Jamestown Schools: A School-Community Partnership
"SCAN," issued by the Superintendent’s Office in conjunction with the School Committee, is designed to inform staff members and interested others of matters discussed and actions taken by the Jamestown School Committee at its most recent meeting. SCAN does not represent meeting minutes.
Public Forum: Lisa Primiano voiced her concern about tracking (instructional grouping) in the 6th grade, the last-minute notification of parents and the lack of parental input in the decision.
Consent Agenda: The committee approved payment of bills and the minutes of October 21 and November 4.
• From North Kingstown School Department, an invitation to attend a December 6 presentation by Ken O’Connor, internationally known authority on effective grading and reporting strategies.
• From North Kingstown School Department, an announcement of the North Theatre’s performances of Romeo and Juliet.
• From Sodexho, news of the September 16 “All Local Lunch Day” and the first “Local Corn on the Cob Day.”
• From Janet McCarthy, School Liaison Officer, Naval War College, a request to be placed on an agenda to provide an update on the SLO’s first-year activities.
• From Maura Sayre, Washington County Regional Planning Council/Energy Management Program, an update on the narrowing of the ESCO field to two finalists.
Food Service Update: The school committee reviewed Sodexho’s year-to-date -- and three-year -- sales figures. The superintendent reported that Sodexho is addressing decreasing participation at Lawn by forming a focus group of 7th and 8th graders to identify what this group wants. Sodexho is using the results – a preference for “unhealthy” options such as bacon and sausage – by incorporating turkey versions of these meats in the December menu.
Race to the Top Work (RTT) Plan: Superintendent Marcia Lukon shared with the school committee the 58-page document detailing Jamestown’s RTT scope of work and partnership agreement. Dr. Lukon reported on the annual performance benchmarks through 2014, outlining the district’s readiness to implement this reform agenda and the challenges involved. The key challenge is the district’s size: Jamestown lacks the administrative capacity to complete all the tasks/reforms associated with the RTT initiative.
BuyBoard Cooperative Purchasing: Based on a strong recommendation from Director of Finance Jane Littlefield, the committee voted to participate in this national purchasing cooperative. BuyBoard provides a mechanism for local governments to pool their collective purchasing power. Participation does not require the acceptance of bids generated through BuyBoard.
Jamestown Teacher Association Contract: Ms. Kaiser explained that the new contract, ratified by JTA members on November 17, is a two-year agreement: due to the financial uncertainty at both the local and state levels, the parties did not consider it prudent to make commitments for a third year. Ms. Kaiser commended the JTA negotiating team and the broader membership for partnering with the school committee to generate savings in the face of decreases in state aid and increases in the cost of benefits. The key changes are in the areas of heath care, compensation and professional development.
• Health care benefits: Teachers agreed to add a $250 deductible to their health insurance plan and also to increase their co-share. For the remainder of this school year, teachers hired on or before July 1, 1997, will increase their contribution to the cost of their premium from 5% to 10%; teachers hired after July 1, 1997 will continue to contribute 15% of their premium. Effective July 1, 2011, all teachers will contribute 17.5% of the cost of their premiums. If a new or extension contract agreement is reached before the 2012 financial town meeting, all teachers’ contribution will increase to 20% on June 30, 2012 (the expiration date of the newly ratified contract).
• Compensation: Teachers agreed to a zero-percent salary increase for the current contract year and to forgo any advance on the salary scale, i.e., they will not advance a “step.” The school committee will make a one-time payment of $1500 to each teacher in December, an amount that will not be added to the base salary and hence not contribute to future cost escalation. All teachers will receive a 1% salary increase for the 2011-12 school year and will resume step advances. Teachers who do not advance a step (i.e., who are at top step) will receive a one-time payment of $1200, which will not be added to the base salary or contribute to future cost escalation.
• Professional development: Statewide changes to the teacher evaluation system and RI’s commitment to the new national core standards will necessitate additional professional development for Jamestown teachers – beyond the two days currently incorporated into the school year. To minimize the cost to the district, teachers agreed to devote the current parent conference day to professional development and will instead hold parent conferences before and after school during a two-week interval. (Due to the late contract settlement date, this change will go into effect next year.) Also, two additional professional development days will be added to the current school year if Race to the Top (RTT) funds become available for this purpose. In the 2011-2012 contract year, the orientation day will be replaced by a professional development day and one additional day will be incorporated if RTT money is available (for a total of seven PD days).
Information and Proposals:
Superintendent’s Report: The superintendent reported that Education Commissioner Deborah Gist will visit each district over the course of this school year; the Jamestown visit, scheduled for March 8, will include a classroom visit, a meeting with teachers and a community forum that brings together town leadership, district leadership, parents, students and educators to learn more about RI’s education reform agenda. • The superintendent shared Portsmouth School District’s planning grant request for $50,000 from the Newport County Fund to study the formation of the AIM Academy in Newport County. The academy will serve Newport County students who are academically able and motivated in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math. The magnet school will take the form of a school-within-a-school at Portsmouth High School. • The superintendent also reported on the November 2 professional development day.
Principals’ Report: The principals reported on the fifth grade’s use of SMI, a math computer program that allows teachers to tailor homework assignments to student needs. • Kindergarten, first and second grade teachers attended a literacy conference held in Providence. • Principal Almanzor attended an anti-bullying seminar hosted by the RI Department of Education. • The PBIS (positive behavior and in-school support) committee has developed a leadership mission statement governing the 3-5 year rollout of the program.
Lawn School Improvement Team: The group discussed the need to improve the school-to-club afterschool transition; parent communication and the need to update the website; and the opportunity available to chair the 2011 Island Treasures.
Melrose School Improvement Team: The group discussed the results of the Thanksgiving sock drive (381 pairs collected); plans to survey parents about school communication with families; and the infeasibility of plans to create an outdoor classroom (the group is considering focusing on a garden instead).
SELAC: No report.
North Kingstown High School: The NK School Committee updated its policy on districts that tuition students to NK; updated a policy on class rank; and responded to student concerns about the Student Management and Discipline Program.
SORICO: The Board accepted with regret the resignation of Executive Director Mike McKee (as of December 31). The Board will meet on November 29 to map out “next steps.”
Legislative: No report.
Facilities: The committee reviewed the projects in the capital improvement plan and discussed the limited life expectancy of the 20-year-old boilers. It is anticipated that the ESCO energy audit will evaluate these units.
Wellness: No report.
Policy: No meeting.
The next workshop meeting of the Jamestown School Committee will be on December 2. The next business meeting will be on Thursday, December 16. All open meetings begin at 7 p.m. in the Lawn Avenue School Library.