2007-12-13 / News

School Committee tackles district policies

By Michaela Kennedy

The School Committee reviewed and edited a list of policies within the district at a Dec. 6 work session. Revisions to newly drafted policies and updates to established guidelines were considered.

In a reading of the policy on tutor reimbursement, committee members agreed that fee structures for tutors should be regulated. Robert Fricklas, director of Pupil Services and Special Education, told the panel that he found several agreements that were made verbally between tutors and students. Sometimes the agreements involved students with an individual education plan (IEP), and with tutors in specialty areas. "The fees are all over the place," he said. "I think we need a policy to clean it up, and certain procedures that we always enforce."

Fricklas suggested a fee structure that considers teaching credentials be included, especially since some teachers hold more qualifications than private tutors, but are restricted to contracts. He also suggested requiring tutors to sign letters of agreement that they are pursuing proper certification. "There's an endorsed rate in the contract, and I would like to hold the rates to that," he added.

Superintendent Marsha Lukon noted that background checks were critical for all tutors. Checks should be standard procedure within the policy, since private instructors spend one-on-one time with students.

The committee went on to review the policy on bullying. An addendum was added to address cyber-bullying, which includes text-messages and e-mails. Chairwoman Cathy Kaiser said that the addition would establish a legal right for the district to take action when cyber-bullying affects a student or staff member. Lukon noted that a policy existed directed to soliciting, but not for bullying.

Protocols for summer school, use of school facilities by nonschool based organizations, and in-school distribution of materials from outside groups were also discussed. The committee agreed to continue readings of policy updates at next month's workshop.

Committee member Julia Held mentioned possible revisions to the tobacco policy. Kaiser suggested that the wellness committee review the policy and offer changes for the board to consider.

In liaison appointments, William C. Brennan continues to serve as liaison to the Facilities Committee and as Jamestown representative on the North Kingstown School Committee. Held continues as liaison to the Special Education Local Advisory Committee (SELAC) and the Health and Wellness Committee. Julie Kallfelz was appointed as liaison to the Southern Rhode Island Collaborative (SORICO) and the Lawn School Improvement Team. B.J. Whitehouse will be the liaison to the Melrose School Improvement Team.

In other business, the school committee:

• Approved the 2008 school committee calendar.

• Approved an application for home schooling.

• Elected officers. Cathy Keiser was voted in as chairwoman, Julie Kallfelz as vice chairwoman, and newly appointed B.J. Whitehouse as clerk.

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