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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 Work Session: Jan. 5, 2006


Letters received :

From Albert Honnen, Superintendent of the Narragansett School Department, inviting Superintendent Sipala and the school committee to meet with the Narragansett School Committee to discuss a possible merging of administrative services. The two committees will meet at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 14 at the Narragansett Town Hall.

From Director of Student Services Beth Pinto, a copy of a letter sent to parents addressing the RI Department of Education's advisory on services for special needs children enrolled in private schools.

From Roy Seitsinger, Superintendent of Exeter-West Greenwich, about open meeting law pertaining to public forum at school committee meetings. As per the Attorney General's interpretation, to avoid possible collective discussion of items not posted on the agenda, school committee members should not comment on or respond to statements made during open forum.

From Director of Student Services Beth Pinto, a copy of a letter to Dr. Dan McGregor of the North Kingstown School Department, asking about interest in co-sponsoring the March 11 presentation by Dr. Edward Hallowell, author of Driven to Distraction and Delivered from Distraction .

Continuing Discussion: Reorganization, Restructuring, Shared Services

Middle School Programming, Support Services, Class Size, Administrative Structure

Superintendent Sipala reviewed the guiding principles introduced at the last work session and asked for committee reaction to the proposed reduction in 2006/07 of one 7 th grade classroom teacher. The committee indicated its approval. Reducing the grade to three groups will allow teachers to do additional instruction and Ms. Held reiterated the importance of devoting this time to academic enrichment and differentiation.

Ms. Kaiser proposed an additional guiding principle for committee discussion -- that reductions be considered when low numbers justify such a reduction and when the reduction can be sustained for a minimum of two years. Under this principle, the fifth grade could be reduced to two instructional groups in 2006/07. The majority of the committee objected to the principle, citing its possible negative impact on education, but agreed to review two versions of the upcoming budget (with/without the reduction).

Mr. Brennan raised the question of whether support services such as the school psychologist, social worker, etc., could be contracted out, as was done this year in occupational therapy (while the occupational therapist was on leave). The committee agreed to ask the school's lawyer to clarify the ramifications of contracted services.

Ms. Pinto responded to committee questions about special education staffing.

Mrs. Sipala reiterated the critical need for a principal/instructional leader at Lawn School and restated her reasons for deferring (for now) the proposal for this position.

Facilitator John Pini presented six options for the reorganization of administration for the committee to consider as it moves forward in its discussions with Narragansett and/or efforts to reorganize internally.

The next business meeting of the Jamestown School Committee will beat 7 p.m. on January 19 in the library at Lawn Avenue School; the Jamestown School Committee will meet with the Narragansett School Committee on January 14 at 9 a.m. at the Narragansett Town Hall.