School committee bids farewell to Brennan
The School Committee honored committee member William “Bucky” Brennan’s final meeting with a rousing musical tribute last Thursday. The original song, sung to the alternating tunes of “Candy Man” and “Macho Man,” poked fun at Brennan’s tendency to closely question spending with lines like, “Who can take a policy, and cut two lines or three and over two terms save a nickel and a tree? The Contra-Man can.”
Committee members sang the tune while holding hand-made paddles with Brennan’s picture on them.
Brennan, who did not run for re-election this term, took the good-natured ribbing in stride, but also took the opportunity to mention the reasoning behind his frequently oppositional position.
He said he hoped everyone recognized that although he often took a hard line on issues before the committee, he did it with the good of the community in mind. Committee members acknowledged their awareness of Brennan’s motives, with Superintendent Marcia Lukon even joking that they’d hold on to one of the paddles and raise it whenever budget requests were deemed too high.
After the tribute, the committee moved on to consider other business, voting five to one to accept the transfer of the NASA appropriation by the Jamestown Education Foundation. The transfer will likely occur prior to the Nov. 19 business meeting.
The committee also approved the bid for project management of the SAMS Project to Furhana DiBiase, contingent on the transfer of NASA appropriation funds from the Jamestown Education Foundation to the school department.
In new business:
• Committee Chairperson Cathy Kaiser reported that she, committee member B.J. Whitehouse, Superintendent Lukon and Finance Director Jane Littlefield met with North Kingstown’s Superintendent Phil Thornton, Business Manager Ned Draper and school committee member April Brunelle to review Jamestown’s contract with North Kingstown.
Due to a number of unanswered questions – including the impact of a new state-required accounting system, as well as the outcome of Jamestown’s high school review – the group decided to defer its discussion until those questions are more adequately addressed. The group agreed to recommend to the two respective school committees the addition of a rollover clause to the tuition contract. The addition of this clause would extend the contract with an automatic rollover, while preserving each party’s right to end the contract, according to the contract’s current language.
• Chairperson Kaiser also reported on a meeting she attended with school committee chairs and representatives from Warwick, East Greenwich, Exeter-West Greenwich and Coventry to discuss the possibility of shared services. Kaiser said the group heard from Gary Sasse, R.I. director of administration, who updated the group on the economic outlook of the state.
According to Kaiser, Sasse presented a dire outlook wherein the current $30 million shortfall in revenue will continue to grow over the next several years and in which further cuts to school aid are likely. The group brainstormed possible areas of shared services, including purchasing, special education services, payroll, IT, maintenance, health insurance, sharing of employees, and copier and computer leasing as a potential response to such cuts.
The next business meeting of the Jamestown School Committee will be held on Nov. 19. The next workshop meeting will be held on Dec. 3. All meetings are held at 7 p.m. in the Lawn School Library.