JAMESTOWN SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING
Lawn Avenue School
May 3, 2007
Present: Catherine Kaiser, Chairperson
Present: Dr. Robert Power, Superintendent
Elizabeth Pinto, Director of Pupil Services
Kathleen Alamanzor, Principal
Michael Franco, Assistant 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 work session to order at 7:07 p.m. and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Ms. Kaiser called the Roll Call.
Members present: All present.
Public Forum: Owen White read citations from the R.I. Senate, the R.I. House of Representatives, and the Jamestown Town Council in recognition of Teacher Appreciation Week during May 7-11, 2007. Dr. Power will display these citations on the bulletin board.
Information & Proposals:
Virtual Classroom - Presentation by Michael Franco: Mr. Franco gave a presentation on the Virtual High School, which is an online opportunity available for higher-level middle school students through SORICO. He explained that the program involves one school period per day plus one hour at night. Mr. Franco discussed the types of learning experiences students would gain. The process includes an application by the student, a set of selection criteria, teacher recommendations, and an application essay. Mr. Franco said administration hopes to have 6-7 students participating in the program next year. He explained that the Virtual Classroom started at the high school level and is now available for middle schools. A number of communities already participate in this program. Mr. Franco said that students will be identified in the next couple of weeks; about a dozen students will be invited to apply. Linda Casey, Jamestown’s Library Media Specialist will facilitate. Mr. Franco said that each virtual class will include 20-25 students from all over the world. Jamestown will probably have all students enrol in the same course for the first class.
Ms. Kaiser asked what class is exempted out. Mr. Franco answered that this class takes the place of one of the student’s electives rather than one of the core subjects. Ms. Held asked whether students in the program want to do the extra homework. Mr. Franco said his information was that they were. Mrs. Kallfelz said there was an option for teachers to take on a teaching role, and she questioned whether Jamestown teachers would be expected to do so. Mr. Franco said that there are no Jamestown teachers teaching this course, but they certainly could. Mrs. Kallfelz asked whether a grade would be incorporated into the student’s report card. Mr. Franco said yes, the online classroom will be graded as a course; this will be additional exposure to a study area but will not take the place, for example, of high school biology. Mr. Franco said he was attracted to the biology and physics piece because the physics piece included large language arts and math components. Mrs. Kallfelz commented that language classes seemed to be missing. Mr. Franco thought it was harder to learn languages in this type of online environment rather than in a more traditional dialogue-type classroom.
Ms. Held asked about whether the courses would be selected before students were selected. Mr. Franco explained that the students will have a say in which class was offered. Ms. Held asked whether students pay the cost, and Dr. Power answered that the district will pay for this course. Mr. Franco added that SORICO acts as an organizer for the class. He added that he has spoken with eleven people who participated, and they were all very happy with the course. Ms. Held asked who the designated Jamestown contact would be. Mr. Franco explained that he is the contact right now, but Lisa Casey would probably be the student contact person.
Mr. Dolce asked whether the program is pushing schools toward offering classes. Mr. Franco said this is true in larger districts. He added that the program would like someone trained on-site if there are more that 20 students participating in one school. If this were true, there would be costs for 25 seats, the cost for training a teacher, and a school joining fee; however, this will not happen in Jamestown right now. Mr. Dolce asked about computer interactions. Mr. Franco explained that this could be characterized as online chat; groups would work on projects, and all students would receive the submissions so that they could be discussed as a group.
Mr. Dolce thought that this program could be used for average students, and said he wouldn’t limit it to only gifted and talented students. Dr. Power explained that this first class in Jamestown will be focused on gifted and talented students. This satisfies Jamestown’s commitment to working with high-level students. Mr. Franco said he has heard the overriding thing is the selection criteria is the most important piece, because students have to be committed to that level of work. Ms. Kaiser added that one of the schools developed a prerequisite course. Dr. Power said that the Hudson, MA school district has done this program for over 15 years.
Ms. Held asked whether all students have an elective piece in their schedules. Mr. Franco said that they do; elective periods may include robotics or writing, among other subjects. All students have four 1/2-year electives. Mr. Brennan asked where the money for this program would be found. Dr. Power said that part of the cost will be paid from grant money, and Mrs. Alfred has found an appropriate place in the budget for the rest of the funding. Dr. Power added that he wanted the Jamestown Press to know about the district’s participation in this program.
Reschedule School Committee Meeting of June 21, 2007: June 21st is graduation. By consensus, it was decided that the June 21, 2007 School Committee meeting will be moved to June 28, 2007.
Continued Discussion of the Food Service Bids: Dr. Power explained that administration is waiting for vendors to answer a couple of questions, and Mr. Carey from the DOE has not yet responded. Based on the answers, decisions will be made. Dr. Power said that vendors were asked for some figures, and now costs for both companies are closer together. He added that the drivers of cost are the menu selections and their frequency. Dr. Power noted that the district also has to decide on the vendor who best “fits” operationally in terms of cooperation with the school and customer service. Mrs. Kallfelz added that there is a tentative meeting of the sub-committee with Mrs. Braley tomorrow afternoon. There will be a possible vote on the food service vendor at the meeting on May 17, 2007.
Public Forum: None.
Adjourned: Mrs. Kallfelz moved and Ms. Held seconded a motion to adjourn the meeting at 7:40 p.m. So moved.
THE AFOREMENTIONED MINUTES ARE HEREBY APPROVED:
Chairperson, Jamestown School Committee Date