JAMESTOWN SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING
Melrose Avenue School
September 7, 2006
Present: Catherine Kaiser, Chairperson
Present: Dr. Robert Power, Superintendent
Elizabeth Pinto, Director of Pupil Services
The School Committee returned to Open Session after a 6:30 p.m. Executive Session pursuant to RIGL 42-46-5, Exception 9, JESPA grievance. Ms. Kaiser announced that in Executive Session, a vote was taken on a motion to authorize settlement of the JESPA grievance as presented, subject to modifications suggested by the School Committee. The result of the vote follows: Mr. Brennan, yes; Ms. Held, yes; Ms. Kaiser, yes; Mrs. Kallfelz, yes, Mr. Filkins, yes.
Call to Order: Ms. Kaiser called the work session to order at 7:15 p.m. and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Ms. Kaiser called the Roll Call.
Members present: All present.
Public Forum: Christianne Matley expressed concern regarding buses leaving early and questioned the possibility of leaving regular bus routes as they are, while using smaller buses to pick up students who needed to be there early for breakfast. Ms. Kaiser noted that the School Committee needed a letter from her in order to discuss this issue at tonight’s meeting. Ms. Matley wrote a letter quickly and requested that the School Committee review the school bus policy.
Mr. Brennan moved and Ms. Held seconded a motion to place on the Agenda a review of the school bus policy. All approved. So moved.
Consent Agenda: Ms. Kaiser moved and Mr. Brennan seconded a motion to move the Consent Agenda up on the meeting agenda. All approved. So moved.
Mrs. Kallfelz moved and Mr. Brennan seconded a motion to approve the Consent Agenda - Personnel:
David Pritchard as girls’ basketball coach; Teacher Appointments for Jennifer Kittredge-Clark and Kathleen Allen; Teacher Assistant Appointments for Aba Barcelos-Rosa, Anne Reilly, and Lori Smith; and Leave of Absence for Bruce Engelhard and Holly McMackin. All approved. So moved. Jennifer Kittredge-Clark introduced herself.
Review of School Bus Policy: Ms. Matley stated that some special education students go to North Kingstown early. She wondered if students who needed free/reduced lunch could go on the bus with them. Dr. Power thought there were legal issues with having students declare that they are in the free/reduced lunch program. Mr. Brennan asked what the reason was for the bus schedule change. Dr. Power explained that he spoke with John Lally at North Kingstown regarding the bus schedule. Dr. Power explained the process by which he worked backwards from school start time to the beginning of the bus pickup time. He noted that Bus 3 students get on the bus at about 6:30 a.m. and get to the school at 6:55 a.m. He explained that North Kingstown students get on the bus at 6 a.m. because they have longer runs and more traffic. Dr. Power said that the bus time was published in the paper; then the time had to be changed because Jamestown didn’t know about the time requirement for students in the school lunch program. He was sorry that administration did not know about the lunch time problem in advance.
Ms. Held explained that there was no problem last year and questioned why there is one now. Dr. Power said that there is a rule that all students have to be at school 15 minutes early so that they may have free/reduced meals. North Kingstown has a policy about having 15 minutes for breakfast, and this may not have been followed last year. Mr. Filkins questioned whether someone from North Kingstown could come to talk to Jamestown about the policy. Mr. Brennan asked how many Jamestown students used the program, and Dr. Power said he could get the numbers. Ms. Kaiser added that federal law states that schools must make lunch available to all students. She said that Jamestown could consider asking North Kingstown to take away the 10 minute break between cafeteria and class times. She added that this puts Jamestown against healthy breakfast because of the start time issue.
Mr. Filkins noted that Jamestown is asking for information on how the decision was made so that they can answer parents’ questions. Ms. Kaiser will invite John Lally to speak in Jamestown. Mr. Filkins added that decisions seem to be made unilaterally, but there is no communication of decisions. He suggested that perhaps Mr. Brennan could investigate to determine whether the decision was made by the school committee or by administration. Consensus of the committee was that John Lally be invited to attend the next meeting.
Ms. Matley questioned whether a survey could be done in order to determine how many students would ride early. Dr. Power explained that the bus routes are pretty efficient right now, and rearranging them would create more problems. Ms. Held added that sleep is also part of the Health & Wellness Committee’s charge. She suggested that perhaps they could reconsider this issue if this is a local policy and not a federal one.
Discussion on Exploring Food Service Providers: Ms. Kaiser explained why the School Committee is discussing food service providers. She presented statistics on the percentage of students of ages 6-11 and 12-19 who are overweight or obese. She listed the adverse effects of obesity and said it is a very serious health problem.
Ms. Kaiser said she sent an exploratory letter to local restauranteurs; however, she has had no response yet. There is no program of this type in the country right now. She asked whether committee members were in favor of bagged lunch or a full food program. Mr. Filkins replied that the idea of bagged lunch is the first alternative that begins to address Jamestown’s concerns. He was all for it; however, he thought there may be other avenues that would work.
Ms. Kaiser said that in terms of doing this project for Jamestown, it was probably not financially feasible; however, it might be feasible if one considers creating a market for all of Rhode Island. She wondered whether Jamestown should steer away from traditional vendors. She questioned whether a vendor would be willing to have Jamestown as a satellite program if, for example, they were doing a deli bar for Middletown. She asked whether Jamestown could be absorbed into another district’s food contract. Ms. Kaiser noted that deli bars are pretty healthy, and she thought it was worth doing research about what’s being offered in other communities.
Mr. Filkins questioned whether it was possible to contact Healthy Schools/ Healthy Kids to call a meeting to discuss this issue as a state and to find a solution. He thought that if the state-level DOE found out this type of program could work, they might be willing to reimburse costs.
Mr. Brennan noted that this is a 3-tiered problem: 1) product, 2) administrative, and 3) cost; a problem in any tier affects the others. He thought Jamestown needs to develop an appropriate menu and send it out to bid to the larger vendors, such as SODEXO and Arrowmart, as well as to local restaurants. Mr. Filkins added that Mr. Pini’s wife is a food manager at a district-level, and she has offered to help. Mr. Brennan noted that there is money in the budget for help in creating a menu. The Committee could get cost estimates from the created menu, and then find out who is interested. Mrs. Kallfelz thought that Jamestown has more potential, as a small district, for having this kind of program be cost-effective. She added that many other districts are facing this problem.
Dr. Power said that the idea of bagged lunches is not new. He noted that it takes time to transition students to new foods. He questioned how this program could be funded and wondered if the Rhode Island Foundation would fund a pilot in Jamestown for a year for transition. He also thought that Jamestown would get very good information if they brought food vendors together and asked them what was possible. He noted that Jamestown is a great place for the Rhode Island Foundation to fund. He suggested that large vendors not be eliminated and added that these vendors could answer a lot of questions. He also noted that there are lots of rules, guidelines, and audits. Dr. Power said this is the time to gather information. He noted that sometimes profit margin becomes the driver, and he suggested that a grant for the first year of a new food program would help to work out the problems. Dr. Power suggested that bagged lunches include a sandwich and fruit. He explained that there were no hot lunches in another school system where he worked. Mr. Brennan added that there is a way to present it; however, Jamestown may not like the cost. Dr. Power said that Jamestown could tell vendors what Jamestown is looking for, tell them that you want them to help, and ask how they can help.
Ms. Kaiser asked about steps to be taken in this process, and she suggested that vendors be invited to the next workshop. She thought it was important to articulate clearly what Jamestown wants for a menu and goals, and ask vendors to give options. Mr. Brennan suggested that Jamestown could offer an RFP for an appropriate menu.
Dr. Power suggested that Jamestown could work with a consultant to create a bid spec, then go to bid, ask questions, get bids back, and have the consultant assess whether the bids compare apples to apples. He thought it was valuable to put the bid spec together with a consultant, then to bring in vendors one-on-one and ask each vendor how he could do it. He added that vendors appreciate well crafted big specs and noted that it wasn’t unheard of to take a loss the first year.
Dr. Power recommended that someone be in the room during vendor meetings to translate what is heard. For example, he noted that, prior to Steve Carey, there was someone who retired from DOE who knew hot lunch programs, and advised another school district. Dr. Power suggested that cost would not be more than $1,000 for consulting service.
Ms. Kaiser wanted to clarify the fact that there is no endorsement yet by the Wellness Committee for this type of program. Mr. Filkins suggested that Dr. Power ocntact the Wellness Committee. He added that the Wellness Committee was interested in the concept of bagged lunch, but there was no pressure to make a decision. Ms. Kaiser suggested that Wellness Committee members be present during discussions with vendors.
Mr. Filkins asked Dr. Power to find the name of the retired person at the DOE. He thought it was good to look into grant potential with the Rhode Island Foundation. Mrs. Kallfelz said she would be happy to contact the Rhode Island Foundation to get an initial sense of whether this type of grant is possible. She also thought RIASC or the listserv could be contacted and invited to the vendor meetings. Mr. Filkins thought maybe it wasn’t a good idea to have so many people at the vendor meetings. He thought it was important to identify a list of vendors.
Ms. Kaiser summarized the steps: 1) find a consultant or form a sub-committee; 2) send an email to the Rhode Island Foundation; 3) meet with various vendors; and 4) take the program to the consultant.
Mr. Filkins recommended forming a sub-committee before hiring a consultant. Consensus was to aim for the October 26 workshop to meet with the consultant. Dr. Power said that his understanding is that he will find the consultant. Mrs. Kallfelz and Ms. Kaiser agreed to serve on the sub-committee. Dr. Power added that the person they used in a previous district was very familiar with food contracts and was worth the cost. Ms. Kaiser noted that the sub-committee will work with Dr. Power to aim for discussion with the consultant by October 19 (potentially) and then discussions with vendors at the November workshop.
Mr. Filkins asked for someone to cover both Melrose SIT and the Wellness Committee meetings during his 2-month absence. Ms. Held is willing to attend Wellness meetings if they are not held on Tuesdays or Thursdays. Mrs. Kallfelz will attend Melrose SIT.
Discussion and Possible Vote on Meeting Schedule Change: Dr. Power explained that he will not be present at the September 21 meeting because he will be attending a conference of New England superintendents. Ms. Kaiser noted that she already has a potential agenda. She read a list of topics, and said she was inclined to keep the meeting as scheduled. Ms. Held added that discussion of particular topics could be postponed to the following meeting, if that became necessary. Consensus of the committee was to hold the meeting as scheduled.
Dr. Power reported that a letter will be coming from the Town Council regarding topics to be discussed at the joint Town Council/School Committee meeting. Mrs. Alamanzor will give a brief explanation of InfoWorks. Mr. Brennan asked that Dr. Power brief the committee in advance about these topics.
Public Forum: None.
Adjourned: Mr. Filkins moved and Mrs. Kallfelz seconded a motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:30 p.m. All approved. So moved.
THE AFOREMENTIONED MINUTES ARE HEREBY APPROVED:
Chairperson, Jamestown School Committee Date