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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 Meeting: February 26, 2004
• 4th grader Vincenzo Moretti for a Kenex car invention that will be used by GEMS-NET in teacher training sessions.
• Kate Shuhy for her outstanding contributions as secretary in the Pupil Services Office and as office manager.
• Director of Pupil Services Beth Pinto, by Tony Rafanelli writing for SELAC, for her dedication and exceptional leadership.
• To Representative Bruce Long and Senator Teresa Paiva-Weed requesting legislation to reimburse school districts for the cost of bridge tokens used for the mandated busing of students to out-of-district schools.
• From SELAC, minutes of the December 9 meeting.
• From Jan Hall-Stinson, Resource Development Manager for the NKSD, thanking Superintendent Sipala and Cathy Kaiser for meeting with her to discuss communication between the two districts.
• From the Rhode Island Association of School Committees announcing the date of the annual meeting, April 30.
Consent Agenda: The committee approved the minutes of Jan. 22 and Feb. 5; payment of bills; the after school program appointments of Chris Kent (Computer Lab), Joseph Ucci (Lawn baseball coach) and Nick Alfred (Lawn track coach); the appointment of Kate England as a long-term substitute in the Lawn Planning Center and Kristen DeSantis as substitute for Michele Desrosiers during her maternity leave. The committee also accepted the resignation of Lynn Roach as teacher assistant in the pre-school; accepted Carolyn Sion’s letter of intent to return from leave of absence; and approved requests for a second year of leave by Cara McDermott and MaryJane Moynihan. Teacher Lay Off Notices: The school committee regretfully gave its approval to the following non-renewals due to classroom closings, teachers returning from leave, and replacement by displaced, tenured teachers: Michaela Romano, Joseph Ucci, Holly Langton, Sara Sweetman and Christine Bernardo.
Budget 2004/2005 Discussion and Vote: Upon the recommendation of Superintendent Sipala, the school committee unanimously approved the commitment of an additional $145,000 from the unreserved fund as revenue in the 2004/2005 budget. The funds, which will lower the town contribution, will be offset by an anticipated surplus for the 2003-2004 fiscal year. Mrs. Sipala also discussed the impact of Governor Carcieri’s proposal to cut state aid. (Jamestown is projected to lose only $1000.) In his budget address, the governor also called for higher retirement contributions; it is unclear at this point whether this increase is the same one announced by the retirement board several months ago (and already built into Jamestown’s 2004/2005 budget). Additional areas of concern are the governor’s proposal to lift the cap on the number of charter schools; and his call for legislation that would require contracts negotiated by a school committee to be ratified by the town council.
• Monthly Financial Report: Business manager Maria Alfred shared the monthly/year-to-date figures with the committee.
• Policies—Second Reading of the Kindergarten Admission Policy: Director of Pupil Services Beth Pinto presented a powerpoint overview of the policy revision process. The proposed kindergarten admission policy includes a process for parents of current pre-schoolers to request early admission in September 2004. In addition, Ms. Pinto will prepare a general policy outlining a process of appeal (applicable to any school committee policy). George Zainyeh and council liaison Guy Settipane urged the committee to include wording on the appeal process in the kindergarten admission policy. After discussion, the committee felt that a general policy on the process of appeal was sufficient. A second reading of the kindergarten admission policy prompted the removal of the word "normally" from the first paragraph. A third reading will be scheduled prior to adoption.
• School Calendar: The committee approved the 2004/2005 calendar and an adjustment to the 2003-2004 calendar to make-up snow days.
Information and Proposals:
• Melrose Principal Kathy Almanzor described the AmeriCorps/RI Mentoring Partnership Program and the efforts of AmeriCorps volunteer (and Jamestown School alum) Becky Romano to establish a Jamestown program. The program will be "rolled out" during Community Week with the goal of recruiting mentors for the upcoming school year. Mrs. Almanzor praised the contributions of former teachers Jerry Gorman and Peter Anderson, who are informally mentoring 4th grade students.
• Mrs. Almanzor also provided an update on plans for the fourth grade trip to Ellis Island. A survey sent to parents revealed support for the trip. One parent expressed concern about the lack of safety belts on coach busses. Mrs. Almanzor offered to make available to the committee materials explaining why belts on busses are unnecessary (and can actually diminish safety).
• Betsy Gooding reported on the breakfast meeting of the Rhode Island Healthy Schools Coalition, which highlighted the relationship between physical fitness and academic performance and showcased what other schools are doing to encourage fitness – from scheduling recess before lunch to removing vending machines from the building. Betty Prairie of the North Kingstown Food Service Program will address the school committee at its March 11 meeting.
• Jamestown Education Foundation. Advisor Betsy Gooding and Trustee George Zainyeh described the formation of the Jamestown Education Foundation (JEF). The goal of the foundation is to provide funding outside the regular school budget for areas such as enrichment programs. The foundation is distinct from the school district, school committee and PTO.
Melrose School Improvement Team: SIT discussed the need for a SIT mission statement; pamphlets outlining grade level expectations; the results of the homework survey; and the upcoming Community Week.
Lawn School Improvement Team: SIT continued planning for Education Awareness Day and discussed the school improvement plan, of which the three main goals are to provide a challenging learning environment that values excellence and promotes high levels of performance; to support a culture that fosters the development of all middle school students and encourages their motivation; and to promote citizenship and civic responsibility within the school and the community at large.
SELAC: In place of the regular monthly meeting, SELAC members attended the forum on at-risk behaviors hosted by NKHS.
Facilities Committee: The committee discussed floor surfaces for the Lawn bathrooms. In conjunction with the Jamestown Tree Protection and Preservation Committee, the committee will seek local arborists and landscapers to help remove dead pine trees (on a volunteer basis) from the small forest between Melrose and Lawn in preparation for having students help develop the site. The committee is also researching the origins and details of the archeological restrictions on excavation. Finally, the committee discussed the longer term need for a master plan for all school property.
North Kingstown: The NK school committee approved the adoption of new math texts for the general level math program at the high school. The materials currently in use are not a good match for the targeted students. The new texts have been approved by the NKHS SELAC.
RIASC: Cathy Kaiser and Julie Kallfelz will attend a legislative workshop sponsored by RIASC on Saturday, Feb. 28.
The next work session of the Jamestown School Committee will be on March 11; the next business meeting will be on March 25. All meetings are held at 7 p.m. in the Melrose Multi-Purpose Room.