School Committee Home Page

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 Budget Work Sessions: Feb. 3 and Feb. 10, 2005

Discussion of School Budget 2005-2006 :

At the February 3 rd work session, Superintendent Katherine Sipala and Principal Kathy Almanzor described the instructional program and budgetary needs at the two schools. Mrs. Sipala reported a planned reassignment of resource personnel to serve the needs of the incoming sixth grade. Special Education Director Beth Pinto presented the special ed portion of the budget and explained personnel changes being made to better serve the needs of the autism program. Committee questions centered on the co-teaching program; the psychologist position (in light of changes in special education evaluation requirements); and the teaching load of physical education teachers. Parents present spoke in support of the special education budget and expressed concern about the planned closure of a sixth grade classroom.

At the February 10 th work session, Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds Lew Kitts presented the maintenance and safety portions of the budget and the capital projects and capital improvement plan. He pointed to interior painting and equipment repair as areas where money is being saved because the work is done in-house. Lisa Casey explained the need for library renovation at Lawn Avenue School, where homemade shelves are buckling and inherited computer lab furniture does not support the multiple uses of the library. As liaison to the facilities committee, Mr. Brennan presented the proposal by William D. Warner Architects & Planners to develop a vision plan to address parking, traffic circulation, and building entrance problems and the development of a school “campus.” In a letter to the committee, Tree Warden Dave Nickerson asked for a $2000 commitment to support development of the wooded area between the two schools as a town forest/park that would serve the recreational needs of Jamestown residents as well as allow science classes to study of forest ecology and forest succession. Mrs. Sipala reported on line item changes since the Feb. 3 rd work session. The final figure from the Interlocal Trust on workman's comp premiums is higher that projected in the budget. In addition, a correction to North Kingstown's tuition calculation rate raises that line item by $4500. In responding to committee questions posed at the Feb. 3 rd meeting, Mrs. Sipala stated that she does not recommend any modifications of the co-teaching model at Melrose School for 2005/2006. Changes to that program, she cautioned, would represent a significant change in the philosophy of the school and could undermine the support system that enables Jamestown Schools to be “high-performing.”

Mrs. Sipala recommended the following adjustments to the budget:

• Reduce on-island transportation by one bus, saving $32,000.

• Reduce the line item for instructional supplies, textbooks and equipment by 10%.

• Reduce the psychologist position to a .6 employee. Mrs. Sipala explained that she will use a federal grant to fund a .4 Differentiated Instructor.

• Reduce one full-time physical education teaching position to a .8 position, with further reductions to be made in the next several budget years as classes with decreased enrollment move up through the system.

Committee discussion focused on the impact of decreased enrollment on the system and on the need to engage in difficult conversations about how best to serve the needs of Jamestown students in coming years. As stated in the committee's 2004-05 goals, this subject will be explored throughout the year as the committee explores options such as regionalization and collaboration of services.

The school committee will vote on the budget on February 17.

The next business meeting of the Jamestown School Committee will be on February 17. All meetings are held at 7 p.m. in the Melrose Multi-Purpose Room.