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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: Dec. 15, 2005

Recognized: Beverly Green, for achieving National Board Teacher Certification.


Letters received :

• From two members of the community, asking for the school committee to review and align class enrollment and staffing.

Consent Agenda : The committee approved the minutes of November 17 and December 1, as amended; payment of bills for 11/27/05, 12/07/05 and 12/08/05 and the transfer of Sonya Bieler to the position of grade 5/6 teacher assistant, effective September of 2006.

Old Business

Fields and Facilities Update : Superintendent Sipala shared the letter sent to Acting Town Administrator Chief Tighe and Matt Bolles, Recreation Dept. The school department has already adopted the guidelines outlined in the letter.

Information and Proposals: Superintendent's Report

Enrollment and Revenue : The superintendent provided the latest district enrollment figures and an update on preschool tuition revenue, which will be $3000 less than projected. Pre school tuition fees will increase in 2006-07, as per last year's decision to raise tuition gradually, over several years.

Articulation Conversations with NKHS : Mrs. Sipala reported on recent conversations with the department heads and guidance department at North Kingstown High School about articulation in the areas of math and Spanish. Analysis of data collected from School Max (computerized student reporting system) revealed that Jamestown students performed as well as—or better than--their NK counterparts in Spanish 1 and 2. Similarly, although anecdotally math has been considered a weak area for Jamestown, the data demonstrated that Jamestown students hold their own, performing as well as—or in some cases slightly better than—NK students. The exceptions are two sections of Algebra I with particular students and/or a particular teacher. Mrs. Sipala is working with the NK guidance department to resolve these issues. Another area to be re-examined is student placement in math courses: the NK math department head suggested that Jamestown recommend to students with special math needs a “bridge” version of Algebra 1, taught over two years.

Year-to-Date Fiscal Report : It is anticipated that the district will end the fiscal year with a surplus of $275,000, to be moved to the unreserved fund.

Legislative Changes/Special Education : Special Education Director Beth Pinto reviewed with the committee the recent advisory from the RI Department of Education that re-defines the division of responsibility for services for children with IEPs who are enrolled at private/parochial schools. While recent federal legislation has been interpreted to place the responsibility for these services with the district in which the private/parochial school is located, the Dept. of Ed advisory specified a division of responsibility between that district and the sending district. Ms. Pinto will meet with the Department of Education later this month to seek a clarification.

Follow-up to the 12/1 Workshop on Class Size, Support Services and Middle School Programming : Mrs. Sipala shared her guiding principles for reorganization in the middle school grades:

•  As often as possible, teachers teach at one grade level;

•  Ideally, teachers teaching two subjects should do so at the same grade level; when circumstances require a teacher to teach at different grade levels, as often as possible that teacher should teach only one subject.

Mrs. Sipala stressed that following the guidelines will facilitate better communication and planning in the middle school grades. Within the guidelines, she offered a plan for reorganizing the 7 th grade in three instructional groups, taught by three teachers. She recommended no changes in the 8 th grade staffing for 2006/07 The school committee will discuss the recommended plan at the January 5 workshop.

Committee Reports:

Melrose School Improvement Team : Melrose SIT discussed three school goals – differentiation, community service and communications. SIT will survey families to learn “how the school is doing.” SIT also discussed the need to keep the school committee informed about school programming, activities and needs; the group suggested that a “principals' report” be included as a standing agenda item at school committee meetings.

Lawn School Improvement Team : Lawn SIT discussed middle school models and heard a presentation on student advisory groups.

SELAC : The group commended Beverly Green for achieving National Teacher Board Certification. On Jan. 10, Carol West, director of special education at the high school, will speak to the parents of 8 th grade special needs children about the transition to high school. SELAC discussed inviting the NK SELAC to participate in Education Awareness Day and to share the expense of the speaker, Dr. Edward Hallowell. The group also reviewed the Department of Education's recent advisory on school district responsibility for services for students with special needs enrolled at private/parochial schools.

Facilities Committee : No meeting.

North Kingstown High School : No report.

SORICO : Ms. Kaiser reported that the taskforce conducting the feasibility study on shared services would not meet again until all data has been submitted by the districts.

Health and Wellness : Mrs. Sipala reported that the committee has several new members from the community and at its last meeting discussed policies governing food in the classroom. According to the recently passed state legislation, policies must be approved by school committees by June and implemented by September.

Legislative : Ms. Kaiser reported that the South County school committee/superintendent legislative committee had reviewed four areas in which to put seek legislative change this year: tax reform (education funding), scope of bargaining, out-of-district busing, and group home reimbursement. Southern Rhode Island school committees, superintendents and legislators will meet on January 30.

The monthly work session of the Jamestown School Committee will be on Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. in the Lawn Avenue School Library. The next business meeting will be on Jan 19.