JAMESTOWN SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING
Lawn Avenue School
April 5, 2007
Present: Catherine Kaiser, Chairperson
Present: Dr. Robert Power, Superintendent
Elizabeth Pinto, Director of Pupil Services
Maria Alfred, Business Manager
Kathleen Alamanzor, Principal
Michael Schnack, Town Council Liaison
The School Committee returned from a 6:00 p.m. Executive Session pursuant to RIGL 42-46-5 Exception 2, Collective Bargaining Discussion. Ms. Kaiser announced that no votes were taken.
Call to Order: Ms. Kaiser called the work session to order at 7:12 p.m. and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Ms. Kaiser called the Roll Call.
Members present: All present.
Public Forum: Ms. Kaiser recognized John Ragland for his placement in the spelling bee.
Ms. Held recognized Jamestown’s medal winners at the Science Olympiad held at Rhode Island College.
Consent Agenda: Mrs. Kallfelz moved and Ms. Held seconded a motion to approve the Consent Agenda: Personnel: retirement of Patricia Cook, Susan Haskell, and Deborah Murphy; and resignation of Anne Gorman. All approved. So moved.
Information, Proposals and Action Items:
Pathways Presentation: Ms. Pinto introduced Andre Chaitt of the Pathways Strategic Teaching Center, who explained their proposal for a satellite classroom in Jamestown. She explained the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) intervention that is used with autistic children. Ms. Chaitt said that the classrooms are for children age 12-15, with one lead teacher and a 1:2 ratio of Teacher Assistant to students. She discussed the educational benefits of this programs to the students, discussed staff training by Pathways staff, and the benefits to the community in general of having this expertise and collaboration in place in Jamestown. Ms. Chaitt listed the financial benefits, added that Pathways would pay $3,000 to Jamestown for each child, and estimated a potential savings of $137,000 for the year for Jamestown.
Ms. Held asked about the space needed for the children. Ms. Chaitt explained that there would be six students. Dr. Power added that Jamestown has one definite and one possible student that would attend this program next year. Ms. Chaitt added that the goal is to integrate students into the classroom as much as possible. Ms. Held asked whether the $3,000 per child would cover the cost to Jamestown. Dr. Power said yes; Pathways covers the cost of all services and teachers. Mr. Brennan asked why Pathways wanted to bring their program to Jamestown. Ms. Chaitt answered that Pathways has been looking for an opportunity for inclusion with typical peers. Ms. Kaiser asked whether the age of the students made a difference. Ms. Chaitt answered that it didn’t, but Pathways will be selective about choosing students that could benefit. She added that some space would be reserved for Jamestown students.
Mr. Brennan asked whether Jamestown presently serves children in-house that will become an age that Jamestown can no longer serve. Ms. Pinto said yes. Dr. Power alluded to one student that would benefit. He explained that benefits are two-fold: 1) there is an in-district benefit, and 2) costs are contained. Mr. Brennan asked whether Jamestown had services for children age 10-11. Ms. Pinto said that there are services at Melrose School only, and one child is now of Lawn School age. She added that there are still students that Jamestown could continue to support in-district; however, as students age up, sometimes it becomes more challenging to support them. Dr. Power recommended that this program be put in place for a year and then revisited. Dr. Brennan asked when Pathways needed a response, and Ms. Chaitt said it was needed as soon as possible. Mr. Brennan suggested that the proposal be discussed in Executive Session because of the staffing issue, and said the School Committee needs to vote to approve it.
School Budget - Final Vote: Ms. Kaiser explained that the School Committee needs to vote on the adjustment for the lower Blue Cross rate. Dr. Power added that the rate was reduced from 10% to 7%.
Ms. Held made a motion to approve the 2007-2008 Jamestown School Budget in the amount of $11,277,000. Mr. Brennan seconded the motion for discussion. Mr. Brennan questioned whether the budget should be revised to reflect salary adjustments for replacements for the three long-term retirees. Dr. Power explained that there are payouts for the retirees as well as possible litigation payout and said he thought the money would be needed. Mrs. Alfred added that there is enough money in the budget for payout for one retirement but not for three. All approved the motion. So moved.
School Calendar 2007-2008: Dr. Power explained that the proposed school calendar is essentially the same as last year’s, with dates changed and school vacations coordinated with those in North Kingstown. Ms. Kaiser asked whether professional development days could be coordinated with North Kingstown; Dr. Power will investigate. Ms. Kaiser suggested that the school calendar be held for a vote at the April 26 meeting; she will put it on the agenda.
Ms. Kaiser asked about inclusions for the agenda for the next meeting. Ms. Held will send an email draft of the wellness component and asked to have this put on the agenda. She explained that this plan has to be submitted to the state by May 1. Mr. Brennan asked to include discussion of a letter of concern regarding general school climate and potential changes at North Kingstown. Ms. Kaiser will draft a letter of concern. Mr. Brennan suggested that the letter discuss superintendent and district operations as they affect the high school.
SORICO - Strategic Planning Draft: Mrs. Kallfelz explained that SORICO had a strategic planning session on February 5; Lizann Gibson was the facilitator, and there was also a consultant. Ms. Gibson is looking for feedback on the draft goals and plan, and she questioned whether there were additional needs that were not being filled. Mrs. Kallfelz explained that there are two approaches: increase SORICO staff or have SORICO be a broker for services. There is a fundamental difference in these approaches. Ms. Kaiser added that the draft is impressive and gives substance to SORICO’s mission. Mrs. Kallfelz will attend a follow-up meeting on April 30. She requested that members email any comments to her, and she will create a consolidated list. The full council will vote to adopt the plan on May 24.
Legislative Update: Ms. Kaiser said she attended a budget hearing at the statehouse today, There were lots of people testifying, and they did good job. She said that everyone recognizes that the state is in dire straits, so it may not be useful to cry out for funding now. People talked about longer term things that could be done, the need for mandate relief, and additional efficiencies that could be implemented at the state level. She thought Jamestown was represented well by speakers from other communities.
Ms. Kaiser explained that Bruce Long has submitted a bill asking the state to go to the Massachusetts model for smaller buses. There were people attending from the governor’s office, DOT, and DOE; there was agreement among everyone that Rhode Island has to make a change. Ms. Kaiser said it seems as if the final bill language will be to have small buses that are not special education-sized mini-buses but are larger than a van and safer in rollovers. These vans could be purchased for about $30,000 each. Dr. Power said he was amazed that Massachusetts has used smaller vehicles for years, and Rhode Island still can’t do it. Ms. Kaiser noted that there were some people that were adamant that a big bus is the safest. She said she thought this bill was on the right path, and she hoped to see some legislation on it this year.
Regarding charter schools, Ms. Kaiser said it seems as if there has been lots of sentiment about lifting the moratorium at least in the urban centers. She added that there are proposals for a Native American school in Coventry, a science/technical high school, and a school focusing on wellness. Ms. Kaiser said she testified regarding lifting the moratorium in urban centers but not in rural or suburban areas. She took down as many numbers as she could on all performing schools. She noted that Providence schools’ proficiency is very low. Of the two charter schools, one was close to the top and one was close to the bottom.
Regarding funding of mandates, Ms. Kaiser said she testified on this issue; one of the requests calls for beginning funding immediately. There are several bills with no teeth that have been put in to placate.
Regarding the funding formula, Ms. Kaiser said she attended a legislative session at RIASC, and Gary Sasse spoke about the funding formula. There will be an official presentation on the funding formula on Monday, and Ms. Kaiser will attend. She explained that Jamestown will not benefit but also will not be hurt. She explained the difference between minimum state funding versus tax equity funding. She said that what would change would be the minimum foundation amount of 25%. The state said that everyone would benefit except for Middletown, regional schools, and Jamestown. She added that she will be interested to hear the entire presentation on Monday. Ms. Kaiser said that the funding people who did the legislation said that it would cost about $90 million to do nothing, and $190 million to put the funding formula into effect. She explained that there was broad-based support for a funding formula. She explained what this means concerning the money the government couldn’t raise if the funding formula was in place.
Ms. Held asked whether there was discussion about use of sales tax for supporting the funding formula. Ms. Kaiser said there has been no discussion of specifics yet. She said she has been appointed to the Foundation Aid Technical Advisory Group by William Murphy. Ms Kaiser said that the foundation amount is the cost of providing an adequate education and is an average of costs among high and low-funding communities; it covers instructional and administrative costs but not transportation. She said that if the adequate education cost is defined as $10,000, then Jamestown’s cost is higher than the average. Mr. Dolce asked whether there was discussion about how they would fund this change. Ms. Kaiser said no; the legislature is tasked with creating a formula. The ad hoc group brought together all stakeholders that are not normally at the table together; this group has come up with the formula that will be presented on Monday. She added that Gary Sasse said there would be no funding formula this year and perhaps not next year.
Food Service Bids: Ms. Kaiser explained that there are two bids, and the sub-committee will meet on April 17 to discuss them. Dr. Power added that the RFPs will be sent to advisors for their input. Ms. Kaiser said there will be a vote on bids at the school committee next meeting.
Public Forum: Mr. Brennan asked whether there will be an opportunity to recognize the three teachers who are retiring. Ms. Kaiser said this will be done.
Kevin Barrett asked whether administration knows what Jamestown’s losses are for special education at North Kingstown. Ms. Kaiser said Jamestown pays tuition and it is not Jamestown’s loss; she said the issue is with federal funds. Dr. Power explained that North Kingstown has to realign funding. He added that money did not leave the school system; it was just placed in different areas. Mr. Brennan said that, ultimately, if they have to pay anything back, this may affect Jamestown; however, some of this can be ameliorated by finding where the funds are located.
Adjourned: Mr. Brennan moved and Ms. Held seconded a motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:10 p.m. So moved.
THE AFOREMENTIONED MINUTES ARE HEREBY APPROVED:
Chairperson, Jamestown School Committee Date