JAMESTOWN SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING
Lawn Avenue School
September 4, 2008
Present: Catherine Kaiser, Chairperson
Present: Dr. Marcia Lukon, Superintendent
Dr. Robert Fricklas, Director of Pupil Services
Maria Alfred, Business Manager
Jane Littlefield, Interim Business Manager
Kathleen Alamanzor, Principal
Carole Melucci, Principal
Michael White, Town Council Liaison
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: None.
Personnel: Mrs. Kallfelz moved and Ms. Held seconded a motion to approve appointment of Personnel: Sean McAdam as Boy’s Soccer Coach for the 2009-09 school year, and Deborah L. Gaucher and Laurie Pike as bus monitors. All approved. So moved.
Workshop Discussion Topics:
Business Office Transition Plan: Mrs. Alfred gave a quick summary of the transition plan. 1) Mrs. Alfred recommended that Ms. Littlefield be appointed to the Business Manager position, and Ms. Littlefield’s present position be filled. She recommended that this appointment occur in October to allow training and work on transition projects. 2) Uniform Chart of Accounts needs to be running by July 1, 2009. There are presently 900 accounts for all of the district. Mrs. Alfred explained that new Chart of Accounts may double or triple this number because of the way it is arranged, and she explained why. She pointed to the 500-page manual and said directions are very specific. She added that the state will now have to approve any new accounts. Mrs. Alfred commented that it is very time-consuming to convert to the new system, but it will be good when it gets going. 3) The district will be choosing a new accounting system. Mrs. Alfred explained that there are two systems: Unifund, which is used most frequently in the state, and Efinaince, which is web-based. She visited Narragansett last week to observe their Unifund system. Once the system is installed, it will take three months to get it running. 4) Ms. Littlefield explained that the burden for 403Bs will switch to the school districts. Gateway will be the gatekeeper and will review contracts. The system has to be up by January 1, 2009. Gateway is requesting information on payroll and salaries. 5) Mrs. Alfred explained that they proposed to bring Ms. Littlefield into the Business Manager position early to allow time for training and also for building the coming budget with the new accounting program.
Dr. Lukon added that projected costs for this plan will be within the current budgeted amount, with a little left over. The consensus of the School Committee was that the plan met approval. Vote on the plan will be placed on September 18th’s agenda.
Mr. Brennan questioned whether the salaries for business office positions will remain the same or be lower than the present positions. Dr. Lukon said that the plan proposes lower salaries. Ms. Littlefield’s position is administrative right now, and the plan is proposing that this not be the case. She added that the cost analysis is based on the salaries that administration is recommending. Ms. Kaiser suggested that mean salaries for business managers in the state be examined in time for the next meeting.
Mr. Brennan asked whether the Uniform Chart of Accounts is a state system. Mrs. Alfred explained that is is a state system that is based on a federal one. Dr. Lukon added that the state is saying that town chart of accounts is the next project. Mrs. Alfred noted that the district got a small grant to pay for the system.
Dr. Lukon explained that she met with Mr. Keiser and Tina regarding sharing business office positions. They told her that there are not enough people to go around now. Mr. Keiser suggested that a consultant from the state’s finance agency be brought in to look at town and district business office staffing and efficiencies. Cost for the consultant would be $10,000 and would be split between the town and the school. She added that they will be writing up a joint memo describing this option.
Model School Philosophy: Dr. Lukon showed a video of a presentation that was given at the International Center for Leadership in Education conference that Jamestown staff and administration attended this summer. She added that staff have already seen the video and received it very well. She explained that the video was an overview; the rest of the conference discussed more fully why there is need for change in education.
Dr. Lukon said that someone from the International Center will be giving professional development on the program on Tuesday. She added that, when Jamestown attendees went to see what other model were doing, they could see that Jamestown is doing good things. Mr. Whitehouse commented that, in the case of special learners, he could see that Jamestown was doing a number of things that exceeded what other model schools were doing.
Mrs. Kallfelz asked how teachers would meet all the state standards. Dr. Lukon explained that teachers feel they have to do all the standards. She shared Rhode Island’s standards with the Center staff, who will help weed standards and then take the existing curriculum and raise it to a higher level. She added that she thinks Jamestown has a good core, but there is not much stretching for students. Dr. Lukon said that Jamestown team is excited about this program. They want to take what the district is doing well and build on it. Mr. Whitehouse added that the amount of actual information to be taught will be reduced in order to teach children to learn how to think.
Ms. Held said that a lot of countries require more and earlier science and math. She asked whether any curricula would be raised to a higher level. She added that the speaker made the point about thinking outside the box in using applications as well. Mr. Whitehouse said he thought there should be more rigor in math, science and the arts. This program is a way to start the process.
Mrs. Kallfelz asked whether there is a team of teachers here to help with the program. Dr. Lukon explained that Jamestown has a team of eight teachers; however, the team needs to be supported by administration in order to help School Committee, town and parents understand the program. She added that parent education is starting with SITs, SELAC, and Town Council. Dr. Lukon commented that this program isn’t just about schools but requires cooperation across the board.
Mrs. Kallfelz asked about budget impact for this program. Dr. Lukon said that Article 31 money will be used for professional development. Mrs. Hostetler’s position is .5 FTE, and she hopes that this can become full-time as people come onboard. She added that relationships are the other piece of the program, and Dr. Fricklas will work with the social worker and psychologist on this part. Dr. Lukon said the stretch piece of the curriculum will cost. The budget can’t be raised, so the district will have to prioritize. She added that she did not see a huge expense except for technology. The Technology Committee will be re-forming. Mr. Whitehouse commented that the district needs to look five years ahead and see what is needed. Dr. Lukon said the district could lease equipment, and it comes with a 3-year service contract.
Dr. Lukon added that the Warrior will be going online. She said the district uses about 2 million copies per year, and she needs to get a handle on where the copies are going.
Mr. Whitehouse gave a letter of complaint to Dr. Lukon regarding traffic on Lawn Avenue. Dr. Lukon said she was aware of this complaint.
Ms. Kaiser will place on the agenda for the September 18 meeting the following items: business office transition, joint memo from the Town Administrator and the Superintendent regarding sharing business office personnel, and policies on bullying and medical leave verification.
Public Forum: None.
Adjourned: Ms. Held moved and Mrs. Kallfelz seconded a motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:55 p.m. All approved. So moved.
THE AFOREMENTIONED MINUTES ARE HEREBY APPROVED:
Chairperson, Jamestown School Committee Date