JAMESTOWN SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING
Lawn Avenue School
April 26, 2007
Present: Catherine Kaiser, Chairperson
Present: Dr. Robert Power, Superintendent
Maria Alfred, Business Manager
Kathleen Alamanzor, Principal
The School Committee returned to Open Session after a 6:00 p.m. Executive Session pursuant to RIGL 42-46-5, Exception (a) 1, Personnel and Exception 2, Contract Negotiations. Ms. Kaiser announced that no votes were taken.
Call to Order: Ms. Kaiser called the general meeting to order at 7:06 p.m. and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Ms. Kaiser called the Roll Call.
Members present: All present.
Public Forum: None.
Consent Agenda: Mr. Brennan requested that vote on the Scoreboard, section 2.3, be excluded from the Consent Agenda. Mr. Brennan moved and Mrs. Kallfelz seconded a motion to approve the Consent Agenda: 2.1, Approval of Minutes of February 15 and March 15, 2007; 2.2, Air conditioner for summer school classroom; 2.4, Appointment of Eric Bush as Baseball Coach; 2.5, School Calendar for 2007-2008; and Payment of bills for April 3, 2007. All approved. So moved.
Mr. Brennan asked for further information on the scoreboard. Dr. Power said that Mr. Kitts has been working on this. Coca Cola no longer funds this type of project; however, Mr. Kitts is pursuing discussion with them in order to get a discount. Dr. Power explained that this vote is to allocate funds. Mrs. Alfred added that the money will come from the athletic budget, and the cost is about $2,500.
Mr. Brennan moved and Ms. Held seconded a motion to approve purchase of the scoreboard for Lawn School gymnasium, with the proviso that the dollar amount not exceed $3,000. All approved. So moved.
Correspondence: Mr. Brennan received a message from the North Kingstown PTO listserv regarding middle school math. He thought it was important for Jamestown to offer similar courses. Mrs. Alamanzor explained that Jamestown offers algebra, college prep algebra, and pre-algebra. She thought the North Kingstown information concerned a name change only; however, she will communicate with the Math Chair there to make sure Jamestown’s program is similar. Mr. Brennan will forward to Dr. Power the information for signing on to the North Kingstown listserv.
Ms. Held received the invitations that were in the information packet.
Ms. Kaiser received several pieces of correspondence. 1) Ms. Kaiser referred to an invitation from Senator Gallo and Representative Story to attend a Civic Education Recognition Award ceremony on May 4. Awards are being given to former Governor Bruce Sundlun and to Michael Connelly. 2) Ms. Kaiser received notice of the RIASC Annual Meeting on May 12. She said that usually there is a representative from the School Committee; the district pays the fee and sends registration. Ms. Kaiser will attend. The subject of the meeting is “Found Dollars”. Ms. Kaiser said she was disappointed in the topics because there has been so much discussion of this already. 3) Ms. Kaiser received the Annual Report from The Trust.
Dr. Power received communication from SORICO about House Bill 5637, which concerns closing of all schools on primary day. This bill does not apply to private schools. Dr. Power explained that there is an effort to get this bill rescinded because, for many districts, there is no polling in their schools. School districts and superintendents are trying to get the bill overturned. SORICO is requesting a signature of support. By consensus, the School Committee agreed to sign the letter of support.
Teen Substance Abuse: By consensus, this topic was moved up on the Agenda. Ms. Kaiser opened discussion by saying that the issue was brought up due to issues in Barrington. She distributed a list of liquor law violations in RI cities and towns. Ms. Kaiser said she talked with Laura Hosley at length regarding advocating for state funding for student assistance counselors. Ms. Hosley agreed to form a task force for this effort.
Ms. Hosley explained the history of funding for the student assistance counselor and noted that the task force had to come up with a plan to find it in the future. The bottom line is that the Substance Abuse Task Force will fund the position, but they are not getting much money from the state. She listed other groups have also provided funding for the position.
Stephanie Wordell, the student assistance counselor, brought statistics to show the types of intervention she has done. Ms. Alamanzor gave specific examples of things that Ms. Wordell had done all the students in school.
Ms. Hosley distributed a report that she had derived from the SALT Survey; the report showed the increase in students from 8th -12th Grade who are smoking, using illegal drugs, or drinking alcohol. She explained that the fourteen districts with the worst record get federal funding, and North Kingstown is one of them. Mrs. Kallfelz asked about whether Jamestown’s student assistance counselor was making an impact. Ms. Hosley explained that Ms. Wordell has only been here for 1.5 years. She added that evidence-based numbers should be used to show impact.
Officer Esposito from the Police Department exhibited the types of materials that are being taken from children in Jamestown; He noted that these are not necessarily Jamestown children but some may be coming from other communities. He said that children are not just using weed and alcohol but are also using other drugs. She suggested that Jamestown should catch this problem when students are young. Officer Esposito said there is no DARE program in Jamestown right now, but he thought it should be considered. He suggested that Chief Tighe is very open to spending money on substance abuse problems. Officer Esposito said that there are low-income families in which children are learning substance abuse from their parents. He added that there have been issues with knives in school here.
Officer Esposito said that in Barrington, the police push arrests, and that could easily be done in Jamestown. Mrs. Kallfelz asked whether it was effective to include parents in this process. Officer Esposito said that any arrest of a juvenile goes to district court in Newport. He suggested that scare tactics there may be effective. Office Esposito said that most parents are receptive. He said children with a second offense should be arrested.
Ms. Hosley said people are talking about a juvenile hearing board in Jamestown. There is also talk about compliance checks in liquor stores. The group is trying to do education, prevention, and enforcement. Officer Esposito said that Jamestown is less lenient with offenses now. Ms. Hosley suggested that Jamestown could have a dedicated tip line like Barrington has, and this would probably go through the Police Department. Ms. Held suggested that perhaps Chief Tighe would be willing to fund a tip line. Dr. Power added that if the students have a place to call, and it is known, it really helps prevent problems. Ms. Hosley said that tip lines work in different areas of the country.
Ms. Wordell distributed the results of the staff satisfaction regarding the implementation of the Student Assistance Program. Mrs. Kallfelz asked about the numbers of Jamestown versus children from other towns that have been caught. Officer Esposito said that it has been about 50% Jamestown children. Mr. Brennan asked for a definition of “liquor law violation”. Officer Esposito said that this includes any violation for youth under age 18, including possession, purchase, fake ID, and intoxication in public.
Mr. Brennan questioned the SALT data. He said it was one thing to say that Jamestown is doing something, but the North Kingstown data is still increased or static. Mr. Brennan said he did not think the responsibility belonged with the public sector but revolved around parents.
Mr. Brennan questioned what Barbara Szepatowski mean by her comment that the “...school committee has money to spend”. Ms. Hosley explained that Ms. Szepatowski is very enthusiastic about this program. When she discovered that Jamestown had to find funding or lose the program, she talked with people about being committed. Mr. Brennan noted that there is $30,000 in the school budget to support this program. Ms. Hosley said that there is also $26,000 from the state and $4,000 from the town. When the Substance Abuse Task Force picked up the cost for the program, it was a big chunk. Ms. Hosley said she is working with Charles Williams from MHRH to get additional funding from the state. She noted that the Task Force budget does not include the money from the school district.
Ms. Hosley said she has heard disturbing things about the high school. She explained that the Task Force’s primary job is to work with Jamestown students. Mr. Brennan questioned whether the funding has produced meaningful results. He reiterated that he had a problem with funding from public programs for things that should be done in the family. Ms. Hosley explained that she is trying to beef up the program; there has to be some backup for areas where parents fall short. Mr. Brennan thought that the message would not get through to children if parents did not support it.
Ms. Held said that the new alcohol education program is vastly better now, and it provided a way for students to talk with parents. Ms. Wordell added that Pam Allen ran that program in Jamestown. With an extra day next year, Ms. Wordell hopes to do the same here and said that this is another way for her to get to know the children. Michaela, reporter from the Jamestown Press added that she had just come from the Middletown Task Force meeting where there had been a presentation; she said she would send it if people wanted it. Ms. Hosley stated that if students make a connection and develop trust, this can make a big difference and can sve some children.
Update on Food Service Bids: Mrs. Kallfelz reported that two vendors sent proposals. These have been evaluated and have been sent to the vendors for questions. Once vendors’ comments have been received, the sub-committee will reconvene, hopefully within the next two weeks.
Pathways Agreement Discussion: Ms. Kaiser announced that this topic was discussed in Executive Session because of contractual commitments. School Committee members have questions, and the Superintendent will get the answers. This issue will be placed on the Agenda for May 17.
Update by North Kingstown Liaison: Mr. Brennan referred to the recent unfortunate situation concerning Jamestown’s voice on the North Kingstown School Committee. Their Chair apologized to Mr. Brennan. He said that Jamestown can voice opinions again, but presence on the Committee is largely ceremonial. Mr. Brennan thought that there is a very vocal minority that is interested in taxes but not in the educational system. This group enables a destructive mode, and the School Committee is outnumbered. Mr. Brennan added that he is concerned about the health of their system; people are retiring or being forced out. Mr. Brennan cited lack of community support for the bond issue and noted that there is no support for the School Committee there. Mr. Brennan said he hoped a new superintendent could move things forward.
Ms. Held questioned whether Jamestown should write a letter expressing concerns. She thought this concern should be expressed on public record. She thought that North Kingstown was concerned with other issues than children. Ms. Kaiser said that a letter could be drafted; however, she thought that the whole School Committee is so inflammatory right now, and there is too much negative sentiment against Jamestown. She said what spoke volumes was that there is more site-based management at the high school, and administrators are doing a fabulous job there. Ms. Kaiser agreed philosophically with the idea of Jamestown’s expressing concern.
Ms. Held said that there is a lot of misinformation about Jamestown that is publicized by a small group. Mr. Brennan added that he regularly points out Jamestown’s contributions, and he said that most of the reasonable people know this. He thought that Jamestown needs to stay there and to keep promoting Jamestown’s contributions. Ms. Kaiser added that the only way to correct misconceptions regarding the amount that Jamestown pays is to write a letter. She noted that the formula is very complicated. Mrs. Kallfelz added that if Jamestown answers one complaint, people there come up with another one. She thought a letter would be detrimental in that Jamestown’s opinion of their functionality is irrelevant. Mrs. Kallfelz thought it would be appropriate for Jamestown to write a letter to ask about North Kingstown’s plan for the high school. Ms. Held added that the letter could ask how Jamestown could help. Mr. Dolce said he favored writing a letter, but he didn’t think it would accomplish much. He said he would talk to some people he knows in North Kingstown. Mr. Dolce said he thought that the North Kingstown Town Council shared the same concerns about the School Committee’s dysfunction.
Ms. Kaiser suggested that Jamestown should sit back and watch until such time as North Kingstown’s finances affect the high school. Mrs. Kallfelz added that Jamestown should be prepared to discuss options. Mr. Brennan noted that some people of the North Kingstown School Committee are really trying, but they are outnumbered. He suggested that a 5-member board would be more effective.
Discussion and Vote on Wellness Component of the Strategic Plan: Ms. Held explained that Rennie Sullivan put together the information on the wellness component of the Strategic Plan. Ms. Sullivan distributed copies of the Wellness Committee’s survey of both schools and explained that this is the staff component of the survey. She noted that there was a 40% return, and she described the strengths and weaknesses that the survey found. Ms. Sullivan said she thought most of the goals had been achieved already. She thought the new food vendor should have an area in the Warrior. Ms. Sullivan said the next area for the Wellness Committee to work on is smoking. None of the teachers smoke. Mr. Brennan asked whether the USDA requirements were being revised. Mrs. Kallfelz will ask Dorothy Braley about this.
Ms. Kaiser moved and Mrs. Kallfelz seconded a motion to approve Strategy D of the Strategic Plan to send to RIDE. Mr. Brennan questioned the last piece of the plan, which is implementation. Ms. Held said the evaluation piece, the surveys, was just completed. She noted that this vote approves submission of the document to RIDE as part of Jamestown’s Strategic Plan. All approved. So moved.
Mrs. Kallfelz asked how long students have to eat. Mrs. Alamanzor said that elementary students have 15-18 minutes to eat and 25 minutes for recess, or a total of 45 minutes; middle school students have 30 minutes total for lunch and recess. She suggested that it may be better to have recess before lunch.
Information & Proposals:
Superintendent’s Report: Dr. Power reported on several issues. 1) There have been preliminary discussions regarding JTA contract negotiations. There will be meetings on April 25, 26, and 30. 2) Administration is waiting for a decision from the DOE regarding a staffing issue. 3) The bus contract will be brought to the next meeting for approval. The contract will be sent to the school’s lawyer for review. 4) Dr. Power referred to an attachment from Ms. Pinto regarding summer programs. Ms. Held asked whether the new buses have more safety features. Dr. Power answered that he didn’t know; however, one of the companies would be using new buses, and the prices would go up for these, partly because they are more economical.
Principal’s Report: Mrs. Alamanzor reported on several issues. 1) The 4th Grade production of Amazing Bones was a big success. 2) 8th Grade graduation is at 7:00 p.m. on June 21 in the Lawn gymnasium. 3) The Student Council walk in Bruce Engelhard’s memory was held on April 14. Over $350 was raised; this money will purchase a plaque which will be placed hear the tree planted tomorrow on school property in Bruce’s memory. 4) John Reis, a retired Providence policeman, will be working with Jamestown students in May and June on the issues of violence prevention, bullying and promotion of empathy. Students and parents from Grades 4-8 will be invited to a dinner to discuss these issues. The 8th Grade will have classes on these themes on June 4-8. 8th Grade students will participate in team building activities at Camp Fuller. Mrs. Alamanzor said she thought it was important to work with the 8th Grade students before they leave Jamestown School. 5) Laura Hosley has been instrumental in gathering people to form a Safe School Alliance. It is hoped that there will be a School Committee representative on this committee. The first meeting is May 3. Mrs. Alamanzor added that she thought a police officer as a community relations person was important, and the school has not had one for a few years. Dr. Power added that he talked to the Chief regarding emergency situations, and they also discussed having a liaison. 6) There is a new walking/running club at Melrose School, and parent volunteers are helping. 7) The number of military families will be about the same as last year. Dr. Power said he had a conversation with someone in Newport, and students that would have gone to parochial schools there are choosing to come to Jamestown instead. 8) The number of incoming Kindergarten students will be about what was expected. 9) The Service Learning SIT yard sale will be May 12. The students are also adding raffles to the yard sale offerings. 10) The 8th Grade lock-in will be on May 11, and a few more chaperones are needed. 11) The Lawn School SIT project, Island Treasures, will be held on May 24. Among other speakers, Mrs. Kallfelz will discuss beekeeping at this event.
Mr. Dolce asked whether the parent/student dinner on May 22 for 4th-8th Grades is voluntary. Mrs. Alamanzor explained that they are trying to do an RSVP with the letter and will be offering homework credit for attending. Mr. Dolce thought this was a great program, but he questioned whether at-risk students and parents would participate. Mrs. Alamanzor said the school will do as much outreach as possible.
SIT/Melrose: Mrs. Kallfelz explained that this report was covered by Mrs. Alamanzor.
SIT/Lawn: Mrs. Kallfelz explained that this report was covered by Mrs. Alamanzor.
SELAC: Ms. Held reported that the group had major discussion of the volunteer registry with EMS; key issues included privacy and access to data. Turnout for Education Awareness Day was somewhat disappointing. The committee is considering other formats for the event. Additional discussions included updating the SELAC web page, strategies of parental support for each other, and the Annual Report.
Facilities Committee: Mr. Brennan reported that there has been no meeting. He asked Mrs. Alfred about when the next water bill will be sent. Mrs. Alfred said it would come in July. Mr. Brennan suggested that this committee meet after that time in order to evaluate the impact of the new water-saving equipment.
North Kingstown School Committee: Discussed previously.
SORICO: Mrs. Kallfelz reported that the next meeting is the strategic planning meeting on April 30.
Legislative: Ms. Kaiser reported that she is a member of two committees: one concerns the funding formula, and the other is considering tax to support the funding formula. She explained that there are four meetings initially, and then the two committees will join for further discussion. Ms. Kaiser explained the possible weight for special education severity. She added that Jamestown will not get less but will also not be a big winner. Mr. Dolce asked why couldn’t cities and towns that could not show financial need be given a certain amount for per-pupil cost. Ms. Kaiser explained how the formula was formed. She described income versus property wealth in Jamestown. Ms. Kaiser said the formula is based on an adequate amount, and then additional may be added to it. Right now, that minimum is 25%. Ms. Held asked about reimbursement for special education. Ms. Kaiser explained that there would be double weight for special education, ELL, and poverty. She added that there must be accountability.
Wellness: Discussed previously.
Public Forum: None.
Adjourned: Mr. Brennan moved and Ms. Held seconded a motion to adjourn the meeting at 9:09 p.m. So moved.
THE AFOREMENTIONED MINUTES ARE HEREBY APPROVED:
Chairperson, Jamestown School Committee Date