2010-09-02 / Front Page

School bus parking issue finally resolved

By Sam Bari

The perplexing question of where to park the town’s school buses has at long last been answered.

During last Thursday’s School Committee meeting, Jamestown Superintendent Marcia Lukon told committee members that she and Town Administrator Bruce Keiser had attended the July 20 State Properties Committee meeting to discuss the town’s school bus parking request.

The SPC approved the license, which will remain in effect for five years, to provide parking for up to 10 buses at the Park ‘n’ Ride at Routes 1A and 138.

Lukon also reported that Rhode Island was one of nine states – along with the District of Columbia – to be awarded Race to the Top funds.

But the exact amount of funds won, and how those funds will be used, has not yet been determined.

The $4 billion federal Race to the Top grant competition rewards states that embrace dramatic education reforms, Lukon said during last Thursday’s school committee meeting.

Rhode Island has won approximately $75 million, although the exact amount has not been offi- cially announced.

The state requested $75 million over four years. Rhode Island ranked fifth out of the 10 applicants to win financing in the second round of the competition. The winners, in order of ranking, were: Massachusetts, New York, Hawaii, Florida, Rhode Island, District of Columbia, Maryland, Georgia, North Carolina and Ohio.

According to R.I. Governor Donald Carcieri, the money represents the largest single competitive federal grant to flow to Rhode Island.

Jamestown School Committee members also approved the appointment of Ann Dutra and Veronika Neronha as bus monitors; Chris Swistak as math tutor; Phil Capaldi as technology coach at Melrose and Janice Baron as school-based, homebound tutor.

Karin Oatley, representing the University of Rhode Island’s Cancer Prevention Research Center, presented Lukon with an award in recognition of Jamestown’s participation in Project BEST, a program tracking the health behavior of 4,100 R.I. middle-school students over four years.

Through the project, 50 Jamestown students are benefiting from individualized computer-based interventions designed to prevent tobacco and alcohol use in early adolescence.

In other business:

• Lukon informed the committee that she has received two calls from out-of-district families interested in enrolling students in the Jamestown system. She said she discussed the matter with Finance Director Jane Littlefield and they agreed to set tuition at $8,000. They will bring a formal recommendation to the committee at the Sept. 16 meeting, she said.

• Committee member Julia Held questioned Littlefield about a June 29 telephone bill for $445 and a June 30 bill for an additional $440. The June bills were broken down to $293 each for Melrose and Lawn Avenue and $125 each for the two schools. Littlefield explained that the $125 bills from Verizon were for cell phones, and that she would get back to the committee about the status of the other phone bills. Held said that she thought $440 a month was high.

• Held also questioned a bill from language software provider Rosetta Stone. Director of Student Services Gwenn Spence explained that Rosetta Stone was used in the after-school enrichment programs for grades seven and eight. The students can pick a language and experiment with it to see if they like it or not, she said. Rosetta Stone gives them a taste of the language before they decide what they want to study when they enter high school, she added. Spence also mentioned that one student picked Persian, and several were interested in Chinese and German.

• Committee member B.J. Whitehouse questioned a July 23 bill from the Groden Center for $22,412.84. Spence explained that the Groden Center is “...a special education site that offers programs for students with a variety of needs. They have summer programs that we can’t otherwise offer.” She went on to say that the district had two students that attended the summer programs.

• Whitehouse also asked about a bill from St. Andrews School for $10,408.42. Spence explained that the bill was for student tuition that the district was mandated to pay. Whitehouse asked if both bills were for tuition that fell under a federal mandate. Spence verified that they were.

• Lukon also reported that the new Basic Education Plan (BEP) became regulation on July 1 and that the R.I. Dept. of Education is developing BEP performance measures.

• Lukon reported that she attended a recent briefing on RIDE initiatives, including the teacher evaluation system that is being developed. The system will be in place for the 2011-12 school year. It is a redesign of the teacher certifi cation system that will be linked to data and evaluation. RIDE plans to transition to the national common core standards and the accompanying assessment being developed by a consortium of 28 states.

The next meeting of the Jamestown School Committee will be held Thursday, Sept. 16, at 7 p.m. in the Lawn Avenue School library.

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