2010-07-22 / News

‘Model Schools’ conference sets new standards and expectations

By Sam Bari

A Jamestown team of administrators, teachers and a School Committee member recently attended this year’s Model Schools Conference at the International Center for Leadership in Education in Wexford, N.Y.

Jamestown Schools Superintendent Dr. Marcia Lukon reported on the experience during the July 15 meeting of the School Committee.

Lukon said the group was excited to learn that the new national common core standards establish rigorous learner expectations that emphasize application and performance, which aligns with Jamestown’s commitment to quadrant B and D learning.

Quadrant B emphasizes application – students doing real-world work – while Quadrant D concentrates on adaptation, which enables students to gain knowledge while developing skills such as inquiry, investigation and experimentation.

Committee member B.J. Whitehouse, an experienced elementary school teacher, said that he has always supported application over knowledge-based programs.

Districts are required to develop a three-year plan to transition to the new standards and accompanying assessments. Jamestown’s plan includes piloting a new English Language Arts curriculum aligned to the core standards, piloting new assessment tools in math, implementing new interventions for struggling students and continuing to implement quadrant D lessons and teaching strategies.

Committee member Dana Long, who attended the conference, said that day one included seminars on effective instruction, differentiated instruction, literacy strategies and essential skills of the adaptive and situational leader.

Days 2 to 4 offered more than 100 concurrent sessions on leadership, effective teaching, intervention and disabilities.

By the end of the year, 41 states are expected to sign on with the new common core standards.

In other business, the committee discussed:

• Food service. Meal counts for the 2009-2010 school year slightly surpassed the previous year’s total of 27,854 meals. The superintendent said that revenues covered all but $17,037 of the expenses. This shortfall is less than last year’s and is particularly noteworthy since last year’s defi- cit was in addition to the $28,000 cost to the district of employing two cook’s assistants. Since Sodexo took over food services, it provided all employees, enabling the district to eliminate the cook assistant salaries.

Dr. Lukon said that a significant number of families were taking advantage of the credit allowances for lunches and were in arrears anywhere from $10 to $35. She said that the administration was discussing the implementation of rules to stop the practice.

• Science and Math Scholars project. Project Manager Furhana DiBiase and Jamestown Education Foundation President Mary Keen provided a year-end update on the NASA-sponsored SAMS project.

They reported that NASA has approved a one-year extension for curriculum for the upcoming year. Principals Kathleen Almanzor and Carole Melucci reported that science notebooks, a systematic approach to writing about science, will be used at both schools.

Long said that SMILE, a Rhode Island program, was designed to bring business professionals into the classroom to facilitate science and math projects.

• Background check policy. Lukon reported that forms authorizing background checks for school volunteers will be made available to all parents at the opening of the school year. Checks will be performed on anyone volunteering for positions where they will be in contact with students. This service is being provided free of charge by the Jamestown Police Dept.

Superintendent’s report

Dr. Lukon reported that the bus-parking license is on the agenda for the State Properties Committee meeting July 20. If the SPC approves the license, it will remain in effect for five years.

The superintendent also reported that the eighth grade at Lawn School has been selected to participate in the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress and the Trends I Mathematics and Science Study.

Lukon also invited committee members to stop by the Melrose School office to see the new panel installation that enables the separation of the school office from the district administrative offices.

Legislative report

School Committee Chair Cathy Kaiser reported on the passage of a bill requiring school committee members to complete six hours of professional development annually, administered by the R.I. Association of School Committees.

She also said that she has been in contact with analyst Will Van Horne concerning details of the funding formula.

Facilities report

Whitehouse reported that the scheduled summer maintenance projects include:

• Refurbishing of the sewer ejection pumps.

• Resurfacing of the playground and parking lot.

• Installation of a new sound system in the Lawn Avenue School gym.

• Exploration of solutions to the insufficient heat in the winter in the Lawn Avenue School gym.

• Refurbishing of lights and replacing lamps with high-efficiency LEDs.

The School Committee will next meet at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 26, in the Lawn School library.

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