JAMESTOWN SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING
Melrose Avenue School
September 21, 2006
Present: Catherine Kaiser, Chairperson
Present: Elizabeth Pinto, Director of Pupil Services
Maria Alfred, Business Manager
Kathleen Alamanzor, Principal
Call to Order: Ms. Kaiser called the general meeting to order at 7:15 p.m. after returning from an Executive Session which began at 6:30 p.m. and was pursuant to RIGL 42-46-5 Exception 9, JESPA grievance. She announced that no vote was taken. Ms. Kaiser led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Ms. Kaiser called the Roll Call.
Members present: Kaiser, Brennan, Held, Kallfelz
Members absent: Filkins
Public Forum: None.
Recognition: Several Grade 8 students’ pictures were displayed at the head table. Advisory teachers were asked to submit pictures.
Correspondence: Ms. Kaiser received a letter forwarded from Dr. Halley regarding a meeting to be held in Providence in December. The topic is “Reformed Governments: Roles, Responsibilities, and Relationships. Nationally-recognized Donald McAdams will speak. Ms. Kaiser will attend. Others may attend if they are able.
Consent Agenda: Ms. Held moved and Mrs. Kallfelz seconded a motion to approve the Consent Agenda: A) Approval of Minutes of August 24, 2006; B) Payment of Bills of August 23, 2006; and C) Personnel: Leave of Absence for Christopher Kent, and Appointment of Philip Capaldi to the Extracurricular Position of Technology Coach. All approved. So moved.
Continued Discussion of Tuitioned Students and Possible Vote: Ms. Kaiser explained that the school’s lawyer is in the process of preparing a position paper, and at this point there is nothing to discuss or vote. She distributed an article entitled “Opting Out of Private School”. Mrs. Kallfelz noted that the quality of public education has increased and is now just as competitive as private schools in some places. Mr. Brennan said that he had compared running times for private versus public schools. He noted that some people choose to go to public schools because there is more competition in athletics.
Continued Discussion of Food Service Programs: As a sub-committee, Ms. Kaiser and Mrs. Kallfelz will be meeting to discuss food service with Deborah Pini next week and with a retired DOE person on October 2. Ms. Kaiser noted that the meeting will Mrs. Pini will help them learn how to ask the right questions. She affirmed that there are two viable candidates for consultants for food services. Ms. Kaiser mentioned that food service was explored in the Feasibility Study; however, prior to discussion of regionalization, the study suggested that answers were needed to some questions submitted from vendors. These questions are appropriate for Jamestown’s discussions.
Mrs. Kallfelz reported that she spoke with Karen Vocci at the Rhode Island Foundation. The Foundation is very supportive of Jamestown’s study, but they would probably not fund a pilot lunch program. Ms. Vocci pointed Mrs. Kallfelz to Dorothy Braman, Executive Director of Kids First for Rhode Island. Ms Braman told her that Kids First for Rhode Island was funded by the Rhode Island Foundation to overhaul a lunch program in Pawtucket. Kids First for Rhode Island had good suggestions and had staff who could help. They are willing to send someone to speak in Jamestown. Ms. Kaiser suggested that she and Mrs. Kallfelz meet with Kids First for Rhode Island staff before the School Committee meeting on October 19. She gave a summary of a paper that compared hot lunches in Virginia, Russia, and Japan.
Discussion of Teen Center Hours and Proposed Location: Ms. Kaiser explained that the Town Council asked the School Committee to put this item on the Agenda. Barbara Szepatowski said that Mr. Keiser had asked her about using the space above her shop for a Teen Center for students in grades 5-9. There is a meeting next week to plan what to do with the Teen Center next year. Ms. Szepatowski described potential uses for the upstairs space: a computer room for homework (no Internet, with donated equipment), a separate study room, kitchen with TV/game area, an office for Melissa Minto, and an area where substance abuse or police officers could come to spend time interacting with students. She said that rent is $1,500 per month, and she has already raised three months’ rent. She suggested that this program could run through May and then be extended month by month. Ms. Szepatowski explained that there is noplace on the island where kids can go consistently. She referred to several issues. 1) Cost would be $10,000-15,000 for the time period she suggested. 2) The Jamestown Business Association is writing a letter to explain how downtown businesses feel. 3) Narragansett Café is adjacent to her business, and this is an issue for several reasons. 4) Ms. Szepatowski suggested that hours be 2:30-3 p.m. through 8:30-9:00 p.m. 5) There is no space for students at the Recreation Center right now. Ms. Szepatowski asked the School Committee to please consider both her proposal and support for it.
Ms. Held asked whether the town solicitor had looked at liability. Ms. Szepatowski explained that electrical service is being replaced on Monday, and there is only a microwave for cooking. The Fire Marshall said that the space is fine for 20 students now, with potential for extra space bringing this number up to 25. Ms. Held noted that the students want to work on the design for the Recreation Center. She asked about the possibility of homework clubs/groups at the Library and was concerned about supervision. Ms. Szepatowski noted that there would be an adult there at all times.
Ms. Kaiser said she has major concerns about the Teen Center being in the middle of the commercial zone, near the Narragansett Café, and in an area with traffic. She noted that the school has offered space in the past and is willing to do so again. She suggested that students be located in a place away from downtown. Ms. Szepatowski said she talked with Chief Tighe, and the police like the idea of having the students downtown. She noted that the students will be at the Recreation Center eventually and said that the students want to get away from school. They also need a place to eat at night. Ms. Szepatowski said she looks at the positives of having students in a central location and said this option is an interim for 8-9 months. She added that she will be responsible for raising money to support this project.
Mrs. Kallfelz said she would like to hear the students’ perspective on this issue. She agreed that there is no perfect location right now. Mr. Brennan said that if the Teen Center had appropriate supervision and the police supported it, he would support it. He thought it was more realistic to figure two years until the Teen Center was relocated. His biggest concern was the Narragansett Café. Ms. Held said she would like to see a letter from the town solicitor regarding liability and insurance. Ms. Szepatowski noted that students must sign in and out when they are there. Mr. Brennan thought that closing at 9 p.m. was too late because of homework issues, and he recommended closing at 8-8:30 p.m.
Ms. Kaiser said she was not comfortable with the location as is, and there s no paperwork from Town council. She noted that the Committee cannot vote tonight. Ms. Szepatowski said she hoped to be able to discuss options and a plan at the meeting next week. Ms. Held suggested that this issue be discussed at the joint meeting with the Town Council. Ms. Kaiser will put it on the Agenda. Mrs. Alamanzor added that people are anxious to find a teen home, and the school will try to help.
Discussion of Joint Session with Town Council: The following items will be placed on the Agenda for the joint Town Council/School Committee meeting: 1) Teen center; 2) Mrs. Alamanzor will present information on InfoWorks; 3)Feasibility Study on shared services; 4) Pre-budget discussion, which will include discussion of reserve funds, food services, and transportation; and 5) grounds/sports fields.
First Reading of Substitute Policy: Ms. Davis read the policy. Ms. Kaiser questioned whether every teacher was part of the union, and Mrs. Alamanzor explained that this is required by law. Mrs. Alfred explained that the main reasons for the change in this policy are to raise the daily rate and to expand the progression from one rate to the next. Ms. Pinto explained that staff compared pay rates with those in neighboring school districts. Mr. Brennan asked how many long-term substitutes Jamestown had per year, and Mrs. Alfred said it two or more. Mr. Brennan asked under what extenuating circumstances would the Superintendent step in to assist with critical shortage areas. Ms. Kaiser explained that this might happen for a math or science substitute. Committee members made several corrections to the policy. The second reading will be heard on October 19. Someone from the audience asked whether pay rates were retroactive. Ms. Kaiser said that this would be discussed on October 19 when the Superintendent was here. Ms. Kaiser asked Mrs. Alfred to prepare figures to show budget impact if the pay rate was made retroactive for September through October 1.
Discussion of Home School Applications: Ms. Pinto explained that she was asked to review this policy because of home school laws. She suggested that parents provide either a birth date or an age. Dr. Power gave her information about a home schooling case in which he was involved. Members made several corrections. Mr. Brennan asked about assessment. Ms. Held noted that there is a requirement for assessment. There have been cases where parents were against assessment for religious reasons, but the school departments’ needs for uniform assessment trumped them. Ms. Held questioned why there was no requirement for science instruction in the policy and asked whether this was typographical or intentional. She thought this was a legislated change. Ms. Kaiser will put further discussion of this issue on the November Agenda.
Discussion of Bus and NKHS Breakfast Schedules: Ms. Pinto spoke with Mr. Lawry and Mr. Foley. Mr. Foley can come to the meeting on October 19. Ms. Pinto distributed North Kingstown’s Transportation Policy. Mr. Brennan stated that he asked Maureen Buck about getting students to the door in order to get to the cafeteria. This has always been on their bus schedule. Ms. Kaiser suggested that a sub-committee meet with Mr. Foley. Mr. Brennan and Ms. Held will meet with Mr. Foley.
Information & Proposals:
Superintendent’s Report: None.
Principal’s Report: Mrs. Alamanzor distributed the Principal’s Report. 1) Enrollment figures are attached at the end of the report. 2) Mrs. Alamanzor described the math, reading, and writing programs for grades K-5 and 6-8. 3) Mrs. Onosko is teaching Spanish once a week in Grade 4. 4) Advisories have begun at Lawn School. 5) NECAP testing will be held October 3-5 for grades 3-8, with additional testing days on October 6 and 10 for grades 5-8. She said that the teachers are happy with this schedule. 6) After-school enrichment programs begin the week of October 2. Mary Keen has been very helpful with these programs. 7) Lawn School’s Open House on September 14 was well attended. Melrose School’s Open House will be on September 28. 8) The PTO raised over $13,000 at their recent golf event. 9) Mike Franco is responsible for the middle school athletics program. He has been in touch with South Kingstown regarding rules and regulations, has contacted coaches, and is working out schedules and transportation. 10) Mrs. Alamanzor explained the current school schedule for herself and for Mr. Franco. They meet at the end of every day, and meet weekly with the full administrative team.
Ms. Kaiser noted that enrollment in grades K-8 is down to 491 students. Mr. Brennan questioned how Jamestown knows it is being billed correctly by North Kingstown for high school tuition. Mrs. Alfred said that she and Ms. Pinto both check the school list. They call North Kingstown if they find errors, and North Kingstown re-bills. She explained that they check names and addresses. Ms. Pinto added that they look at special education billing for specific services. They also check student residency. Mrs. Alfred noted that Jamestown receives forms for new students but does not get withdrawal forms and would like to have them. The sub-committee will address this issue with Mr. Foley. Mrs. Alamanzor said that she hoped to present a Principal’s Report on a monthly basis.
SIT/Melrose and SIT/Lawn: Mrs. Kallfelz reported that Lawn and Melrose SITs met jointly today. They looked at the past year and goals for the coming year. The SITs will meet with teachers in late October in order to get their input about where the SITs can be productive within the schools.
SELAC: Ms. Held reported that SELAC met on September 12. Dr. Power attended and described his schedule. The group discussed Teacher Assistant assignments, assessments/alternate assessments, programs offered for adults, and SELAC goals for the coming year. The SELAC website has been updated. Rick Lavoie will be the speaker for Awareness Day. Funding sources for this day were discussed. One member presented an idea about training fire and police to deal with special needs children; privacy is of particular concern. Dr. Power will be attending SELAC on October 10 and will speak about special services at the SELAC Open House that night.
Facilities Committee: None.
North Kingstown School Committee: Mr. Brennan attended 25 minutes of the recent meeting. He left when the Chair called for a recess after an argument.
SORICO: Ms. Kaiser attended the Feasibility Study meeting and will bring information to the October meeting.
Legislative: Ms. Kaiser attended the RIASC Executive Board and strategic planning meetings. RIASC is looking to concentrate on areas where school committees can speak in one voice. She explained that, in the Regents budget, there was a suggestion that towns would get some sort of incentive if they lowered their per-pupil cost to the state average. She noted that Jamestown would get very little money back. Ms. Kaiser explained that the Board of Regents has approved a resolution regarding standards; however, school districts are only held to standards if they have failing schools. Mrs. Kallfelz added that there is a symposium on statewide property tax next week. It is being given by Charlie Fogarty.
Wellness: Mrs. Alamanzor explained that the committee will wait until October to report.
Public Forum: None.
Adjourned: Mrs. Kallfelz moved and Ms. Held seconded a motion to adjourn the meeting at 9:00 p.m. All approved. So moved.
THE AFOREMENTIONED MINUTES ARE HEREBY APPROVED:
Chairperson, Jamestown School Committee Date