2005-09-08 / Front Page

School workshops to focus on reorganization

First meeting is tonight at Melrose Ave. school
By Donna K. Drago

On the first Thursday of each month this fall, the Jamestown School Committee will take up the subject of how to reorganize services and possibly personnel within the school district to increase efficiency and cut costs.

In recent months, brainstorming sessions have included the possibility of two or more towns sharing administrators to save money. Also discussed was looking for ways to join with other towns, and/or with the Jamestown town administration to make group purchases.

The workshops will be facilitated, in part, by recently retired Chariho superintendent John Pini, a resident of Jamestown who is volunteering his time to help the district work through what may be some difficult issues.

School Superintendent Kathy Sipala said she knows that the end result of the workshops may be “that I’m talking myself out of a job,” but she said that what needs to be done is “what’s best for the school district.”

On some issues, Sipala will take over the discussions, she said.

During her tenure at the school, the schools have become “more efficient, more responsive,” and the possible restructuring of the administration might be “the final piece,” Sipala said.

If it is determined that restructuring is in the best interest of the district, she hopes the school board will honor the remainder of her two year contract, Sipala said, noting that she will have no regrets about the final decision.

“I like challenge. I like change,” she said.

Pini said that he will not facilitate the sessions “in the traditional sense,” but rather he will just give a different perspective on things based on his past experiences during the round-table discussions.

Pini, a Jamestown resident since 1997, said that he has a total of 17 years’ experience as a school superintendent — four in Massachusetts and 13 at Chariho.

School Committee Chairwoman Cathy Kaiser said that the workshops will offer a chance for “important dialogue” that will mirror discussions going on in many South County school districts.

The Jamestown school board met Aug. 18 for a retreat to hammer out some potential areas to explore.

Kaiser said that she will share that list at tonight’s meeting and the committee will begin the process to “map out an order for discussion and exploration.”

She said, “We are committed as a group to explore all options, even those that may be discomfiting” to factions of the entire school community.

Just because the panel takes up a particular option, like shared administrators, “it does not mean we will act on it,” Kaiser noted.

It is very important that the community attend these workshops, “to be part of the solution,” and that the search for “ways to preserve and support quality education in Jamestown” will be the goal of the talks, she said.

The first re-organization work session will be tonight at 7 p.m. in the Melrose school multi-purpose room. The next workshop is scheduled for Oct. 6, also at 7 p.m.

Return to top