JAMESTOWN SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING
Lawn Avenue School
May 15, 2008
Present: Catherine Kaiser, Chairperson
Present: Dr. Marcia Lukon, Superintendent
Kathleen Alamanzor, Principal
Carole Melucci, Aspiring Principal
Michael White, Town Council Liaison
The School Committee returned to Open Session after a 6:00 p.m. Executive Session pursuant to RIGL 42-46-5, Exception 2,Litigation regarding Retirement Benefits; Exception 2, Contract Negotiations; and Exception (a)1, Personnel. Ms. Kaiser announced that no votes were taken.
Call to Order: Ms. Kaiser called the general meeting to order at 7:13 p.m. and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Ms. Kaiser called the Roll Call.
Members present: All present.
Recognition: Mr. White read the Jamestown Town Council proclamation in honor of Jamestown Teacher Appreciation Week for May 4-10, 2008.
Public Forum: None.
Consent Agenda: Ms. Held asked to exclude Minutes of April 24, 2008 from the Consent Agenda vote.
Mrs. Kallfelz moved and Ms. Held seconded a motion to approve the Consent Agenda: Payment of Bills of April 22, 2008 and Personnel. All approved. So moved.
Ms. Held corrected a name on page 4 of the Minutes of April 24, 2008.
Mrs. Kallfelz moved and Ms. Held seconded a motion to approve with corrections the Minutes of April 24, 2008. All approved. So moved.
Dr. Lukon explained that the vote on Personnel was to appoint Carole Melucci as Principal of Lawn School as of July 1st, contingent on receiving her state certification as Principal. Mrs. Alamanzor presented Ms. Melucci with a hydrangea from the teachers at Lawn School.
Mrs. Alamanzor reported that the SALT report for Melrose School is here, but it is not yet available for Lawn School.
Correspondence: Mr. Brennan received from RIDE a report on health care in Rhode Island schools. The report gives information on health coverage in all Rhode Island school districts. Ms. Kaiser asked to have copies of this report put in the next School Committee packet.
Ms. Held reported that she received two pieces of correspondence from RIASC. One email concerned the quarterly Chairs meeting.
Ms. Kaiser reported on several pieces of correspondence. 1) Ms. Kaiser received a copy of a RI House resolution recommending that RIDE re-synchronize April vacation to coincide with the schedule in Massachusetts. She added that this is a recommendation and not a bill. 2) Ms. Kaiser received an advisory from RIDE regarding the staffing policy and plan for special education. 3) Ms. Kaiser received from Pathways a letter of thanks for allowing them to be part of Jamestown School’s family. 4) Ms. Kaiser received an invitation to attend a June 2 retirement party for Pamela Allen, Linda Rezendes, and Beth Weibust.
Mrs. Kallfelz received an invitation from Dorothy Braley to the Healthy Schools Coalition breakfast in September.
Mr. Whitehouse received information about a leadership conference in June.
Food Service Update: Dr. Lukon reported that Sodexho’s data show higher participation than last year’s, but numbers do not account for last year’s a la carte program. Mr. Brennan asked whether revenue is increasing with numbers of participants. Dr. Lukon explained that Mrs. Alfred will be coming to school on Monday, and she will be working on the numbers.
Discussion of FY 2008-09 Budget Process: Ms. Kaiser suggested that the School Committee meet more often with the Town Council. She proposed that Town Council be invited to a retreat with the School Committee in August at RIASC. She suggested that the meeting could concern dynamics and team building. Mrs. Kallfelz suggested quarterly meetings that are very focused on specific topics. She said she is concerned that Council members will think they have a say in school decisions. She suggested that it should be made clear that Council should not participate in School Committee decisions, and vice versa. She added that the story in the Jamestown Press indicates the Council’s lack of understanding regarding the School Committee budget practice. Ms. Kaiser suggested that the structure of the meeting could include discussion in a Keywork format and could include division of responsibilities. Ms. Held suggested that Council members should ask questions and not just sit there.
Mr. White said his impression is that the majority of joint meetings between Town Council and School Committee are about the budget. He thought it would be good to have informational sessions, and he suggested that a facilitator might be helpful because it would help the meeting to be less adversarial. Mr. Whitehouse suggested that the joint sessions include four meetings to: 1) discuss School Committee issues, 2) discuss Town Council issues, 3) discuss joint issues with a facilitator that was not a part of either group, and 4) discuss budget issues.
Ms. Kaiser suggested that she would like to see the School Committee task administrators to put together some hypothetical scenarios regarding the unreserved fund. For example, if the unreserved fund is to be used only for one-time expenditures, and if a lightning bolt struck, she asked where the district would get the funding. She thought that this approach would help to strategize for the budget season and said that the goal is not to use the unreserved fund. Dr. Lukon explained that administration did some of these scenarios during the current budget season; they did some prioritizing, and they looked at what cuts would affect students the least. Dr. Lukon asked whether there are any sacred cows, for example, in terms of class size. Ms. Kaiser explained that she sees a joint conversation between administrators and the School Committee. She suggested that there be no sacred cows.
Dr. Lukon said she is very familiar with war games. Ms. Kaiser said that the School Committee does not see this. She suggested that, if there were conversations about where to find $144,000, it would help the School Committee to understand better. Ms. Kaiser suggested that conversations of this type could take place in the summer months. Dr. Lukon explained that administrators do not take much vacation during the school year; she will have to look at her schedule. Dr. Lukon added that the district will have to look at this prior to strategic planning.
Mrs. Kallfelz suggested that zero-based budgeting is a better process. Dr. Lukon explained that she is used to yearly zero-based budgeting. Ms. Held suggested that zero-based budgeting be part of the strategic planning process. Dr. Lukon explained that, if one looks at the discretionary funding in the budget, the amount is very small. Major costs occur in the areas of personnel, changes in programs, etc. Mr. Brennan added that zero-based budgeting assumes that administration looks at state requirements. Dr. Lukon said that administration has to look at state requirements and at mandates, but everything else is on the table. Ms. Kaiser suggested that, if the budget is zero-based, then there may be co-teaching in only one or two grades but not in three. Mrs. Kallfelz added that all sacred cows should be put out to pasture, and there should be no presumptions.
Dr. Lukon said that she could come up with a few scenarios to start the discussion. Mr. Whitehouse suggested that administration go through the budget lines and ask, “Do we have to have this?” Ms. Held commented that, at a RIASC meeting, one participant from Block Island said that their system for Uniform Chart of Accounts cost $9,000. She said she would like to know why Jamestown’s new system will cost $55,000. Ms. Kaiser added that a speaker from RIDE said there is still $1 million set aside for districts. Dr. Lukon has Jamestown set up for the next session.
Mrs. Kallfelz asked Mr. White for his impression regarding the budget. Mr. White said he thought zero-based budgeting was a great idea. He added that the Town Council only sees the final product, but they do not see how much work the School Committee and administration do. He explained that there is extra money every year, and he suggested that those are the areas that should be examined for reductions. Mr. White said he liked the idea of meeting earlier and not just at budget time. He suggested that a meeting with the full Council would be best. He added that he does not think that much needs to be done, except that the Council needs more information; the extra meetings would be a big help.
Consensus of the Committee was that Ms. Kaiser write a letter to the Town Council and invite them to a retreat. Ms. Kaiser summarized by 1) strongly suggesting that administration have a war game scenario, and 2) she will write a letter to the Council. Dr. Lukon will check administrators’ schedules.
Project Citizen Trip: Maureen McGuirl described Project Citizen and explained the process of teaching students how to develop good public policy and how to be good citizens. She answered questions about this program. She explained that she and four students from Jamestown have been selected to represent Rhode Island at the Project Citizen National Meeting in New Orleans in July. Ms. McGuirl said that there will be a meeting on May 23 to describe the three projects that have been done this year: 1) an after-school homework extension, 2) an animal shelter, and 3) the Rhode Island state deficit regarding mentally disabled people.
Mr. Whitehouse moved and Mr. Brennan seconded a motion, for a question, to approve the Jamestown Project Citizen team’s participation at the National Conference in New Orleans. Mr. Brennan asked how students were picked. Ms. McGuirl explained that students had to write two essays: one was about the topic, and one was a reflection about what they learned during the process. She also considered which students she could take. Ms. McGuirl added that she is waiting for School Committee approval before contacting parents. All approved. So moved.
Report on Meeting with Narragansett Town/School Officials: Ms. Kaiser said that Town Council and Mr. Keiser requested that Dr. Lukon and Ms. Kaiser meet with surrounding communities regarding shared services. She explained that she left to Mr. Keiser the decision regarding which community to contact, and he chose to meet with Narragansett. Attendees at the meeting on April 23 from Jamestown included Ms. Kaiser, Dr. Lukon, Town Administrator Bruce Keiser, and Town Council President Julio DiGiando. Attendees from Narragansett included Town Manager Jeff Ceasrine, Superintendent Kathy Sipala, and School Committee Chair Ann Masterson. Mr. Keiser and Mr. Di Giando were interested in asking about sharing central office activities. Narragansett was interested in bringing Jamestown high school or middle school students to Narragansett High School.
Several realistic options for collaboration were discussed. 1) Communities will coordinate if they are looking for half-time FTE positions and will keep each other more informed about their needs. 2) The communities agreed that Jamestown should send a team to Narragansett High School to look at the programs; there have been a lot of changes. Mrs. Kallfelz suggested that, ideally, the team should include some people who participated on the high school committee in the past. 3) Special education administrators will get together to discuss programs in both schools. For example, Narragansett could bring severe/profound students to Jamestown. Dr. Lukon said she has a list of all Narragansett positions that are needed, and there is one possibility of sharing a position.
Mr. Brennan asked Dr. Fricklas to ask North Kingstown regarding the same issues, but he said he didn’t know whether this happened. Dr. Lukon added that this is the time of year to have this kind of discussion. She said that Dr. Fricklas is going to Narragansett tomorrow. Mr. Brennan added that Jamestown has to decide what to charge and how many students Jamestown could accept. He said that Jamestown should make the offer attractive. Mrs. Kallfelz explained why she did not think this would be a windfall profit for Jamestown. Ms. Kaiser added that South County is a small region, and there could be specialty areas. For example, Jamestown could specialize in autism, and North Kingstown could specialize in ADHD.
Mrs. Kallfelz asked how this meeting was initiated, and she said she was uncomfortable with the idea that the Town Council approached the School Committee about calling this meeting. Ms. Kaiser explained that she got a letter from Bruce Keiser who wanted to have a joint meeting with another district. He suggested the names of three districts. The meeting was not done without School Committee willingness to participate. Mrs. Kallfelz added that she is concerned that boundaries are getting fuzzy, and the Town Council thinks that the School Committee is not doing its work. Mr. White added that the letter was initiated by Mr. DiGiando. Ms. Kaiser noted that, because Mr. Keiser picked Narragansett, it became educational for the Town Council. She added that Mrs. Sipala said that every school in Narragansett has a Principal and an Assistant Principal. There is also a Superintendent and an Assistant Superintendent. Ms, Kaiser added that collaboration with Narragansett has not been pursued since four years ago.
Information & Proposals:
Superintendent’s Report: Dr. Lukon reported on several items. 1) Dr. Lukon recognized Renie Sullivan for her work on wellness activities and programs. She will receive the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce’s Achievement Worksite Health Award on behalf of Jamestown on May 28. Congratulations! 2) Dr. Lukon reported that she has received a request from a student that she be permitted to attend Narragansett High School for specialization in agriscience, because North Kingstown does not have this program. She explained the School Committee policy on permitting students to attend a high school other than at the school of record, providing the opportunity does not exist there. Kathy Sipala will be sending information about the Agriscience Program at Narragansett High School. She added that the financial impact will be no more than for North Kingstown, and the student will provide her own transportation. Dr. Lukon will put this topic on the Agenda for a vote at the next meeting. 3) Dr. Lukon suggested that a subcommittee be formed to look at where Jamestown’s policies are coded under the National School Boards Association’s classification system and to suggest changes in the coding for School Committee approval. She called attention to a particular policy that could be classified in more than one place. Mr. Whitehouse suggested that there may be a low-cost program that would permit searches of the policy classification; he will look into possible software. Ms. Davis added that an index is needed, and she is willing to assist. Ms. Held, Mr. Whitehouse, and Dr. Lukon will meet to discuss this issue. 4) The SALT report for Melrose School is complete; however, the report for Lawn School has not been approved yet. Ms. Held commented that School Report Night is on May 28. Mrs. Kallfelz added that she would like to have a School Committee workshop presentation on SALT findings for both schools.
Principal’s Report: Previously reported.
SIT/Melrose: Mrs. Kallfelz reported that the group continued planning for Island Treasures, which will be held during two sessions on June 6.
SIT/Lawn: No report. Mr. Whitehouse will contact the Chair for information.
SELAC: Ms. Held reported on a number of items. 1) The group commended Anne Reilly for her work on parent forums, which are being alternated with business meetings. Parents appreciate this new format. 2) The group discussed summer school options and how the program will work. There will be a program review in the fall. 3) Jill Ball will be SELAC’s Chair for the coming year. 4) Dr. Fricklas reported on a statewide longitudinal study of special education students after they leave high school. 5) The special education program in North Kingstown was discussed; the North Kingstown Superintendent has requested that a new standing committee be formed for special education parents from North Kingstown and Jamestown. Tony Rafanelli reported that, in elementary and middle schools, there is no consistency regarding who is in charge; however, the high school has Carole West. North Kingstown has had lots of turnover, and the district is trying to get a handle on it.
Facilities Committee: No report. Mr. Brennan commented that the committee needs to go over the 5-year capital plan.
North Kingstown School Committee: No report.
SORICO: Mrs. Kallfelz reported on two items. 1) She attended a Keywork presentation by the South Kingstown School Committee on how to institutionalize good behavior in school committees. 2) The SORICO annual meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. on June 2, which is the same night as the Financial Town Meeting. Ms. Held commented that SORICO needs validation that people are behind their plan.
Legislative: Ms. Kaiser reported that she sent written testimony regarding a house bill that concerns a funding formula which would give no aid to Jamestown and eight other communities.
Policy: Ms. Held reported that Mr. Whitehouse will also be a member of this committee. No editing on policies has been done yet.
Wellness: Ms. Held reported that the group had a short meeting. They discussed the School Committee’s request for input on the tobacco and substance abuse policies. The consensus of the committee was that these should be separate policies. Members are not interested in drafting the policy, but they will help.
Mrs. Kallfelz reported that it is National Bike Day tomorrow, and Rolling Agenda will be distributing brochures. Mrs. Kallfelz reported that the consultant is putting together the final draft of the Rolling Agenda Best Use Plan. She suggested that the School Committee meet jointly with the Town Council at their meeting on June 9 to hear about the plan so that work may begin during the summer. Mrs. Kallfelz will send a request to Bruce Keiser.
Ms. Held suggested that there be a discussion of SALT before the end of the school year so that improvements may be in place by the beginning of school in September.
Public Forum: None.
Adjourned: Mrs. Kallfelz moved and Ms. Held seconded a motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:47 p.m. All approved. So moved.
THE AFOREMENTIONED MINUTES ARE HEREBY APPROVED:
Chairperson, Jamestown School Committee Date