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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: April 6, 2006

Consent Agenda : The committee approved the minutes of March 16 and payment of bills.

Old Business

Vote on Revised School Budget 2006-2007 : The committee approved the revised $10,677,358 school budget by a majority vote. The budget was revised to reflect lower-than-anticipated Blue Cross rates. At the request of the town administrator, revenues were amended to include the $78,000 increase in state aid proposed by the governor. The committee made the recommended change but expressed concern that the recently reported possibility of a partial tobacco settlement might negatively affect total state aid. The committee will send a letter to the town administrator and town council expressing this concern and the understanding that in the event of unrealized state aid, funds will provided from town reserves.

Vote on Resolution to Support Federal Legislation for Teacher Tax Deduction for Classroom Expenses : The committee voted to send a letter to Rhode Island's congressional and senate representatives urging passage of bills HR 2989 and S1621 to raise the allowable tax deduction for public school teachers from $250 to $400.

Vote on Resolution Asking the Legislature to Repeal State Special Education Laws Deemed More Restrictive Than Federal Legislation : Section 608(a)(3) of the federal law IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004) asks states to minimize the number of special education rules, regulations, and policies to which the local educational agencies and schools are subject. To raise awareness of this directive and to start a dialogue on the state level, the school committee unanimously voted to endorse a resolution asking the Rhode Island legislature to repeal state special education laws deemed more restrictive than federal legislation. The committee will send the resolution to all Rhode Island school committees to seek endorsement.

New Business

Request to Allocate Reserved Fund Monies for Middle School Baseball Field Improvements : The town administrator requested a contribution from the school to pay for the new backstop on the baseball field. Superintendent Sipala reported that she was prepared to recommend that the school committee collaborate on this acquisition; however, she is concerned about the quality of the backstop purchased and about the inadequate preparation and resultant poor state of the fields. The school committee asked the superintendent to confer with the town administrator in light of the town's recent commitment to maintain the fields in exchange for the school's maintenance and oversight of the gym facilities.

Vote on SORICO Legislation : The committee endorsed a resolution by member school committees in the Southern Rhode Island Educational Collaborative (SORICO) proposing that financial support for group homes be increased (a minimum of $25,000 per bed/ or average cost per group home student) and that group homes be better defined (number of beds and clinical need). The committee did not endorse a resolution on a statewide healthcare plan because of unclear wording.

Information and Proposals:

Discussion of the Lawn School Survey : Survey subcommittee members Julie Kallfelz and Julia Held shared a proposal by local company Survey Advantage to distribute a survey via email to Lawn and Melrose parents and if a list of email addresses becomes available to the parents of Jamestown's high school students. The school department will mail surveys to parents whose email addresses are not known. The committee reiterated that this survey represents a first step an effort to gauge feelings about where/how Lawn students would be best served. Depending on the results of this survey, future steps may include a survey of the broader community. The committee scheduled a meeting on Friday, April 21 at 8 a.m. to review the questions to be used in the survey.

The next business meeting of the Jamestown School Committee will be on April 27. The May work session will be on the 4th. All meetings are held at 7 p.m. in the Lawn Avenue School Library.