JAMESTOWN SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING
Lawn Avenue School
March 6, 2008
Present: Catherine Kaiser, Chairperson
Present: Dr. Marcia Lukon, Superintendent
Dr. Robert Fricklas, Director of Pupil Services
Jane Littlefield, Interim Business Manager
Carole Melucci, Aspiring Principal
Michael White, Town Council Liaison
Bruce Keiser, Town Administrator
Call to Order: Ms. Kaiser called the work session to order at 7:10 p.m. and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Ms. Kaiser called the Roll Call.
Members present: All present.
Public Forum: None.
New Business: Vote on Acceptance of the 2007-2008 Membership Roster of the Jamestown Special Education Local Advisory Committee (SELAC): By consensus, this item was moved up on the agenda.
Mr. Whitehouse moved and Mrs. Kallfelz seconded a motion to accept the 2007-08 membership roster for SELAC. Mrs. Kallfelz asked whether the state lays out requirements for membership. Dr. Fricklas explained that the regulations state that the majority of members must be parents of students with disabilities. There also needs to be an administrator of the special education department of the school district, a community representative, an individual with a disability; however, the committee does not have a member with a disability. Mr. Whitehouse suggested that SELAC be encouraged to find a member with a disability. All approved. So moved.
Dr. Fricklas added that there is nothing in the regulations regarding who can vote, but a majority of members have to be parents. There are members who are not voting members. He added that there may be something in SELAC’s bylaws, and he will get clarification.
Unfinished Business: First Reading: Summer School Policy: Ms. Davis read the proposed policy. Members suggested several changes.
1) Ms. Held suggested that attendance rate be stated as “at least 90% attendance”.
2) Ms. Kaiser suggested that tuition rate be placed on the March business meeting agenda.
3) Mrs. Kallfelz asked that the second paragraph include that the summer school program would be under the direction of either the Director of Pupil Services or the building principals.
4) Members discussed the issue of not having guaranteed student advancement and gave rationale for their reasoning. By consensus, members agreed that wording be added: “Without successful completion of summer school, advancement to the next grade is not guaranteed and is at the discretion of administration”.
5) Ms. Held questioned whether there should be a statement about the number of days per week and the number of weeks of summer school. Dr. Lukon suggested that this not be specified so that the district would not be tied down to a particular schedule if the regulations changed. She said she thought attendance was better if there were more days for fewer weeks. Ms. Kaiser explained that the Summer School Policy will be read for the second time at the meeting on March 20.
Workshop Discussion: Discussion of a Policy of Capping the Unreserved Fund of the Jamestown School Department: Mr. Brennan distributed a draft of a policy that he had written regarding capping the unreserved fund of the school department. Ms. Davis read the draft. Ms. Kaiser suggested that there be general discussion about how the fund balance cap would work, followed by discussion of the draft policy.
Ms. Kaiser said that, at the last Town Council meeting, Mr. Keiser explained that, in his explanation regarding returning funding above the cap, he used the previous year’s audited figures for determining the cap. She added that she thought his way makes more sense. The committee discussed several options for determining the amount to be returned to the town. Mr. Keiser determined that the 5% cap on the audited 2006-07 budget school budget would be $533,868. Ms. Littlefield completed calculations. The formula for the coming year was determined to be
$835,725 (audited school fund balance)
-129,800 (the proposed amount for this year’s transfer from the fund balance for capital expenditures)
- 533,868 (the 5% cap of the audited school fund balance)
$172,000 (approximate total to be returned to the town)
Mr. Keiser explained that the town is also considering capping its own fund balance. The audited figures as of December 2007 show a town fund balance of 17.8%, and 15% is what is suggested. Ms. Kaiser added that she and Mr. Keiser had talked before the meeting this evening. She thought that if there were a policy, it would give peace of mind so that if there were some catastrophic event, the school could look to the town for assistance. Mr. Keiser added that he thought the town and school could develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to describe this arrangement.
Ms. Kaiser opened discussion for the committee to look at the language of the draft policy. Several suggestions were made.
1) Ms. Held thought that extraordinary areas that are not funded should include the topics that Mr. Brennan suggested but should not be limited to them. These might include legal settlements. Dr. Lukon suggested that wording also include “one-time, unanticipated expenses”. Mr. Whitehouse added that the intention of the policy is to use the unreserved fund for unanticipated expenses and not as a slush fund.
2) Mrs. Kallfelz suggested that wording be included to specify how the money is returned to the town. Mr. Keiser explained that the money would go into the Town of Jamestown General Fund.
3) Mr. Brennan asked about allocating funds to particular needs. Ms. Kaiser suggested wording that funding would be expected not to be applied to operating expenses.
4) Ms. Kaiser suggested wording to show that not more than 5% of the audited school department operating budget be used as a cap for the unreserved fund balance.
5) Ms. Kaiser asked Mr. Brennan whether he had written in an override. Mr. Brennan said yes; if a need was identified, it would be approved by the School Committee.
6) Ms. Kaiser suggested wording to explain that money would be returned to the town following final budget adoption at the Financial Town Meeting.
7) Mrs. Kallfelz suggested wording to show from which budget the figures would be taken. Ms. Kaiser added that the School Committee does the policy, and the Town Council does regulation.
8) Dr. Lukon added wording to state that the cap be no more than 5% of the most recently audited School Department operating budget .
9) Members discussed specific wording concerning how the amount to be refunded to the town would be calculated.
10) Mr. Keiser suggested wording regarding exclusion of capital projects in the succeeding year.
11) Mrs. Kallfelz questioned whether school committees in the future would understand the policy. Ms. Littlefield said she thought the policy will lead by example.
12) Mr. Keiser suggested the following wording: “...excluding any funds allocated for capital projects in the budget to be voted upon at the next Financial Town Meeting”. He added that the town does not get audited budget figures until well after the current budget begins.
Mr. Brennan noted that, in North Kingstown, all unused school district money is returned to the town. Mrs. Kallfelz asked if administration looked at other school committees to see what they did with their excess funding. Ms. Kaiser said yes, other school committees were consulted, and many were not giving back any money.
Ms. Held will make changes to this draft policy and will email the policy to Dr. Lukon so it will be ready for a first reading at the meeting on March 20.
Public Forum: None.
Dr. Lukon distributed a handout showing the history of changes in administrative positions.
Ms. Kaiser solicited items for the coming meeting’s agenda, which will include a second reading of the summer school policy, a first reading of capping the unreserved fund, nd discussion of tuition rates. Meeting time will be changed to 7:30 p.m. on March 20 to allow time for members to attend the Town Council budget meeting on the same evening.
Adjourned: Mr. Brennan moved and Ms. Held seconded a motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:15 p.m. So moved.
THE AFOREMENTIONED MINUTES ARE HEREBY APPROVED:
Chairperson, Jamestown School Committee Date