2010-06-10 / News

Roll-over clause approved, high school review continues

By Eileen M. Daly

Jamestown School Committee Chair Cathy Kaiser and committee member Julia Held reported at the June 3 workshop meeting that the North Kingstown School Committee had approved the contract roll-over language during its May 24 meeting.

The so-called roll-over clause was the cause of some contention during the May 11 meeting of the NKSC, when it refused to vote on the clause without further investigation of other contract issues, including tuition costs.

At that time, both Held – who is the Jamestown liaison to the North Kingstown Committee – and Kaiser expressed frustration at North Kingstown’s refusal to vote on the roll-over clause alone.

Both Kaiser and Held stated that their understanding was that the roll-over clause was to be voted on as a condition separate from actual contract negotiations.

“I am perplexed and frustrated that a roll-over proposal originating with N.K. should now be a stumbling block and that the members of the N.K. subcommittee have failed to convey to the broader committee the rationale for tabling discussions of the full contract for a year,” Kaiser told the Press after the May 11 meeting. “If the N.K. School Committee wishes to instead discuss the terms of the full contract now, then Jamestown needs to be notifi ed in a timely manner so that we can discuss and present changes that we deem necessary to any continuing agreement.”

In that regard, the NKSC also indicated during its May 24 meeting its desire to open contract negotiations in September.

North Kingstown Schools attorney Mary Ann Carroll suggested that one of the reasons the current contract is difficult to understand is due to various addendums.

She recommended to the committee that she meet with the attorney representing Jamestown schools to clean up the current contract language and to incorporate the addendum provisions into the main document.

After some discussion, the Jamestown School Committee agreed that making the contract easier to understand is a laudable goal, and Kaiser agreed to contact NKSC Chair Larry Ceresi and to provide contract information for Jamestown’s lawyer, Dan Kinder.

With North Kingstown contract negotiations opening in September, Jamestown does not have the tuition information needed to complete the high school review process.

The committee discussed how each high school under review – North Kingstown High School and Narragansett High School – has strengths that make it an appropriate choice for a segment of the Jamestown student population.

“We recognize that both systems have different things to offer Jamestown’s students and either school could be a viable option,” Kaiser said.

In addition to tuition variables, there are other factors of concern that the Jamestown School Committee will continue to monitor closely.

The most pressing of these concerns may well be the potential for North Kingstown High School to fail to meet the Federal No Child Left Behind mandates by 2012. Should that occur, N.K.H.S. could possibly find itself in the position of being unable to provide Regents-approved diplomas to the 2012 graduating class.

Another area of trepidation facing the Jamestown School Committee regarding the N.K.H.S. option concerns ongoing issues related to leadership that have plagued the high school throughout the 2009-2010 school year.

Long-time N.K.H.S. Principal Gerry Foley has returned to his position as principal of the school, following a disciplinary suspension for inappropriate emails he allegedly sent by listserv following the N.K. School Committee’s Dec. 1 vote not to renew his contract at the end of this school year.

Foley has been returned to active duty as principal of the high school following a Superior Court ruling on the issue. He has resumed his duties for the last few weeks of June and will be allowed to participate in the 2010 graduation ceremonies.

Currently, however, Foley’s non-renewal status remains in place and a new principal for the high school has not yet been named.

During its June 3 meeting, the Jamestown School Committee agreed to continue to closely monitor both high schools, paying particular attention to North Kingstown High School’s ability to meet NCLB mandates, as well as to the leadership of the incoming high school principal.

The Jamestown School Committee will next meet on Thursday, June 17. All meetings are held at 7 p.m. in the Lawn Avenue School library.

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