2007-07-19 / Front Page

School panel names new superintendent

By Michaela Kennedy

The Jamestown School Committee announced the appointment of Marcia Lukon as the new superintendent of Jamestown Schools at its July 12 meeting. Lukon replaces Robert Power, who leaves the position after a one-year appointment.

School committee chairwoman Cathy Kaiser emphasized that the new appointment was no indication of dissatisfaction with Power. Due to Rhode Island retirement regulations, Power was limited to a one-year contract. "The appointment should not be seen as a vote of no confidence," she commented. Kaiser said that Lukon, a recently retired superintendent from the Berlin-Boylston Regional School District in Massachusetts, was not so restricted. "We are able to offer a multiple-year contract, which will allow us more continuity."

Power agreed to continue work with the school committee until current contract negotiations with the Jamestown Teachers Association were complete. The committee expressed thanks to Power for his work in the last year.

In recognition of her contributions to the district, the school committee and administrators sang a farewell song for departing Director of Pupil Services Beth Pinto. Pinto received high regard for her success in the school system, as reported in the School Assessment for Learning and Teaching (SALT) survey. Kaiser noted the irony of Pinto's departure in echoed comments from the survey, "Whatever you do, don't lay off Beth Pinto." Kaiser said Pinto was "near and dear to our hearts."

Tony Rafanelli, co-chairman of the Special Education Local Advisory Committee (SELAC), praised Pinto, giving his opinion that Jamestown has the best special education program in the state. "This program has come a long way because of Beth's leadership." He said many students have been successful through Pinto's help, and called her a true "Island Treasure."

In a discussion about the school food service, the committee decided to mail an announcement for parents and students about the new Sodexho lunch program, which features healthy food choices. Committee members brainstormed on ways to promote the premium lunch program, since the numbers of students purchasing meals is critical to its success. Ideas for promotion include:

• A taste test lunch on teacher orientation day.

• A taste test table at the parent open house.

• A nutrition resource shelf in the libraries.

• Continuation of the healthy snack suggestions campaign in the Warrior newsletter.

• Celebration of National School Lunch Week, Oct. 15-19.

• Meeting with the Health and Wellness Committee to discuss a classroom snack policy.

In other business, the committee

reviewed a draft policy on retention and promotion. Administrators discussed with committee members the steps that lead to a decision to retain a student to the same grade. They noted the need to add to the policy language that shows a desire to reach the decision together with parents on retention. The policy sub-committee agreed to revise the policy and will bring it back to the school committee for a first reading at one of the fall meetings.

Committee member William "Bucky" Brennan was absent.

No votes were taken during executive session.

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