2009-05-28 / Front Page

School Committee votes against job fair

Administration placements worked last year, panel says
By Eileen M. Daly

School committee members voted unanimously last week to deny the teacher's union request for a job fair.

A job fair would allow teachers to select from available vacancies in order of seniority.

School Committee Chairperson Cathy Kaiser began the job fair discussion at the May 21 school committee meeting by stating that the committee held extensive discussions regarding this matter last year. "Everything we heard and everything we observed last year indicated that not having a job fair worked very well," Kaiser said. Committee members agreed that the administration will continue to place teachers where they would like to be as much as possible.

Committee members said a job fair would not guarantee teacher placement based on the needs of the students. "We need to make sure that we have solid teams and that the children's needs are met by placing teachers based on their talent and expertise," Superintendent Marcia Lukon said.

Committee member Bucky Brennan said that under similar circumstances last year the administration was flexible and thoughtful when placing teachers. As evidence of this he pointed to the various job splits that were approved by the administration.

The school committee also accepted the retirement of two employees. Fifth grade teacher Robin Sweet and Director of Student Services Robert Fricklas will retire at the end of this school year. "Both of these retirements are a result of apprehension regarding pension reforms," Lukon said.

The committee had kind words for Sweet, who has taught fifth grade in Jamestown for the past 32 years. "Two of my kids had her for fifth grade and her enthusiasm was really contagious. She did a great deal to bring life to her classroom and she will be greatly missed," committee member Julia Held said.

"As will Bob Fricklas," added Kaiser.

In other business:

Superintendent Lukon provided a food service update indicating that the current trend of food sales being up at Melrose School and down at Lawn School continues with a slight overall decrease in food sales from last year.

The committee conducted a first reading of the special education staffing policy and second readings of the employee illegal harassment policy, the kindergarten admission policy and the student

dating violence and sexual harassment policy.

Committee member Bucky Brennan made a motion to include the statement, "The Jamestown School Department does not encourage or condone dating," as the first line of the rationale for the student dating violence and sexual harassment policy. The remaining committee members voted unanimously against Brennan's motion.

Chairperson Kaiser gave an update on the Elizabeth Stone Scholarship Fund Committee. The three-member panel, comprised of Julie Kallfelz, Fran Gorman and Nara Santamour are currently reviewing applications and the school committee will consider the panelists' recommendations at the Thursday, June 4, committee meeting, Kaiser said.

In the superintendent's report, Dr. Lukon said that the strategic plan would be ready for school committee consideration at the June 4 meeting. After approval, the plan will be disseminated and work will begin on action plans and timelines. Lukon also stressed the importance of keeping the original strategic planning committee involved in the process and indicated that the committee will reconvene in one year to review the status of the plan.

Principals Kathy Almanzor and Carole Melucci shared enrollment figures and a calendar of upcoming events for the remainder of the school year. The number and variety of island businesses and individuals who plan to share their expertise with students during Island Treasures Day on Friday, May 29, especially impressed the committee.

The next workshop meeting of the Jamestown School Committee will be held on Thursday, June 4. The next business meeting will be held on Thursday, June 18. All meetings are held at 7 p.m. in the Melrose school multi-purpose room.

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