2010-02-18 / News

School panel approves smaller budget

By Eileen M. Daly

The Jamestown School Committee voted 4-0 to approve the FY 11 budget during last Thursday’s budget workshop meeting. The $11,606,867 operating budget represents a 1.37% decrease from FY 10.

Projected total expenditures – including capital improvements – are $11,835,397, a 2.28% decrease from FY 10. The new budget assumes a reduction in state aid and a town contribution of $11,178,034 – a 0.78% decrease, or $88,339 less than the town’s FY 10 contribution.

The committee thanked school administrators for presenting such a lean budget while also maintaining services. Committee members also reiterated their appreciation of the administration’s willingness to forgo raises for a second year.

In other business:

• The committee voted 4-0 to approve Superintendent Marcia Lukon’s recommendation for the non-renewal of 13 staff members. Lukon said that the renewals are part of the statutory process and that she hopes to be able to rescind all 13 non-renewals.

Committee member B.J. Whitehouse stated his disapproval of the process.

“Having been through this both personally and professionally, I just want to say the process stinks and I hope that we can hire all 13 back,” he said.

Positions recommended for nonrenewal included one speech and language pathologist; one teacher and one special education teacher each from grades 2,3, 4 and 6; one kindergarten teacher; one physical education teacher; one music teacher and one school psychologist.

• The committee agreed that the Elizabeth Stone Scholarship Fund would once again award as many as four $1,000 scholarships for the upcoming school year. The fund was established through a bequest from the estate of Jamestown resident Elizabeth Stone.

Scholarship awards are for expenses associated with freshman year at an accredited four-year institution of higher learning. The committee agreed to add wording to the application form that welcomes submissions of student work with the applications. The applications will be available on April 1, with a deadline of May 15 for submissions.

• The committee also discussed the high school review schedule and timetable. Committee Chairperson Cathy Kaiser expressed the need to meet with Narragansett’s administration to learn the specifics of that community’s tuition proposal.

Finance Director Jane Littlefield confirmed that North Kingstown’s administration has provided a tuition rate for next year based on the existing formula, and that further formula discussions must be deferred for approximately one year until the impact of the new accounting system can be assessed.

Whitehouse suggested that the committee invite the North Kingstown administration and – at the administration’s discretion – representative school committee members and high school leadership to address areas not included in the Jamestown High School Review Committee’s report.

Kaiser said that the Narragansett School Committee requested its meeting held last month to present benefits that it fealt were not readily evident in the report; the North Kingstown School Committee has not requested a similar opportunity, she said.

After some discussion, Whitehouse made a motion to invite the North Kingstown School Committee and administrators to present. The motion was defeated by a 4-1 vote.

The Feb. 25 business meeting of the Jamestown School Committee has been cancelled. A workshop meeting will be held on March 4. All meetings are held at 7 p.m. in the Lawn School Library.

The committee will hold a joint meeting with the Town Council and Jamestown’s legislative representatives on March 1 at 5 p.m. at Town Hall.

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