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School Committee Action Notes

" 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.

Jamestown School Committee Business Meeting: Nov. 17, 2005

Consent Agenda : The committee approved the minutes of October 20 and November 3 and payment of bills; the appointment of Maureen McGuirl as grade 8 liaison with the high school and the appointment as Ana Irwin as crossing guard and Albert Bears and Terri Page as bus monitors.

Old Business

Fields and Facilities Update : Superintendent Sipala shared the opinion of town solicitor Larry Parks specifying that the school has the power and duty “to provide for the location, care, control and management of school facilities and equipment.” The operation and management of the recreational fields--not considered a “school facility”--falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Parks and Recreation. The school committee approved by consensus a letter to town administration providing guidelines for Recreation Department oversight of gym use by Rec program participants and outside groups. The school administration will also notify the town that the school has the equipment for a previously planned Fitness Trail and will also make available a copy of the school's comprehensive plan for the property adjoining the two schools.

Information and Proposals:

Health and Wellness Subcommittee Presentation (formerly Healthy Schools! Healthy Kids!) : Renie Sullivan and Eric Bush provided an interim report of the committee's activity. The committee, co-chaired by Ms. Sullivan and school committee member Jim Filkins, is newly mandated by the state and is responsible for recommending goals to be incorporated into the schools strategic plan by May 1. The state is also requiring the school committee to draft a health and wellness policy by the end of June 2006 (to be enacted by November 2006). The health and wellness committee reported that it has made healthy changes to the school lunch offerings and is also discussing possible changes to guidelines for food consumed in the classrooms. The committee is recommending an additional 30 minutes daily of physical activity for all students and the expansion of the physical activities offered after (and perhaps before) school.

Superintendent's Report :

Mrs. Sipala recognized Maureen McGuirl and 8 th grade Project Citizen students, whose contributions to the community are featured in the Holt, Rinehart and Winston book Civics in Practice . Mrs. Sipala also commended the work of Jim Kaczynski, who showcased the work of his students in a presentation entitled “Green Awareness: Connecting Students with Their Community” at the 2005 National Conference on Urban Ecosystems in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The superintendent shared with the school committee the latest enrollment figures and reported that Jamestown and Little Compton will be sharing the services of a student assistance counselor, Stephanie Wordell, MSW, LCSW. Ms. Wordell's work in the Jamestown Schools will be funded this year by grants from the Jamestown Substance Abuse Taskforce and the Rhode Island Foundation (as part of the teen center grant).

Mrs. Sipala also brought the committee up-to-date on the student council desire to change or “update” the school's mascot, the Warrior. The students had written to Sachem Matthew Thomas of the Narragansett Indian Tribe to ask whether the tribe considered the Warrior mascot to be objectionable or offensive. Medicine Man John Brown responded to the students' question, stating that the tribe supported continued use of the name “Warrior” but did not want the mascot to be depicted as an Indian. He proposed instead that the students incorporate one of the tribe's traditional symbols: a raven or a wolf.

Committee Reports:

Melrose School Improvement Team : Melrose SIT discussed possible impact on Melrose School of the ongoing reorganization/restructuring discussions. School committee liaison Jim Filkins stressed that the school committee is looking at all options and has not yet made any decisions. He encouraged SIT members to attend the school committee work sessions devoted to this topic.

Lawn School Improvement Team : Lawn SIT began its meeting with a remembrance of former member Jane Sprague. SIT reviewed the final version of the school action plan for Lawn Avenue School, discussed actions taken as a result of last year's end-of-the-school-year parent survey, and worked on a position statement to be presented at the school committee's December 1 work session.

SELAC : The group commended members for the level of participation at the school committee's Nov. 6 work session (Reorganization/Restructuring). SELAC also discussed possible topic requests for Education Awareness Day speaker Dr. Edward Hallowell; plans to revise and update the SELAC website; the SELAC by-laws to be voted upon at the next meeting; and the impact of proposed changes to the criteria for Katie Beckett eligibility. The special education department chair at North Kingstown High School will present to Jamestown parents in January. The last two RI Parenting Workshops have been cancelled due to low registration numbers, prompting SELAC to examine how these workshops could be better publicized in The Warrior .

Facilities Committee : The group reviewed the guidelines for Rec Department use of the gym and toured Lawn Avenue School to view the improvements made. The committee inspected the trial windows installed and will consider recommending window replacement throughout the building.

North Kingstown High School: Mr. Brennan reported that the NK School Committee discussed fire safety and other renovations needed at Wickford Middle School and (if the town approves a bond for the work) the eventual need to house some students in trailers while renovations are completed. Mr. Brennan proposed that NK consider instead sending these students to Lawn Avenue School, in a “tuition trade” for Jamestown's high school students. Mr. Brennan will offer to make a powerpoint presentation on Lawn School for the NK school committee. He also reported that NKHS has received “high performing and improving” status and that the high school had the highest scores in the state in English language arts.

SORICO : Ms. Kaiser reported that the November 7 Key Work meeting focused on the feasibility study of shared services. Current areas of study include energy, health care, supplies, purchase of private school text books, food services, transportation, insurance and facilities maintenance.

Health and Wellness : Mr. Filkins reported on the statewide meeting he attended with Renie Sullivan.

Legislative : Ms. Kaiser reported that her discussions with Congressman Patrick Kennedy's office, the National Association of Impacted Schools, and the U.S. Department of Education have pointed to the difficulty and impracticality of amending the federal law governing impact aid.

The monthly work session of the Jamestown School Committee will be on Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. in the Lawn Avenue School Library. The next business meeting will be on December 15.