2010-09-23 / News

School Committee hears energy presentation

By Eileen M. Daly

The Jamestown School Committee has been asked to consider having the district participate in a proposed program designed to make energy-efficient changes and reduce energy costs in school buildings.

Jeff Broadhead, executive director of the Washington County Regional Planning Council, outlined the program and asked the committee to consider signing a participation agreement during its Sept. 16 meeting.

Broadhead proposed that Jamestown allow engineers to come into the district’s school buildings to assess the current status of energy use.

If engineers determine that signifi cant reductions in energy costs could be realized through recommended improvements, an approved energy services company would then conduct those improvements.

“Instead of spending on energy, the spending would be on improvements,” Broadhead told the committee.

If the engineers determined that there would be no significant cost improvements, then the process would stop at that point with no cost to the district, he said, adding that some buildings could see cost reductions of 40 to 60% after improvements.

Broadhead described a multistep process beginning with engineer evaluations and proceeding through to actual physical improvements. During the process, there are numerous points at which the district can opt out of the process without incurring any penalties, he said.

Superintendent Marcia Lukon asked several questions regarding costs to the district and the points at which the district could choose not to participate. Broadhead finally acknowledged that a “break-up fee” could be incurred if the district chose not to move forward with feasible projects – to which Lukon responded, “Define feasible.”

Broadhead said that feasible projects would be those that would result in significant cost savings to the district. He also said that the “break-up fee” would be covered by grant money from the council.

Lew Kitts, director of buildings and grounds for Jamestown Schools, said that many energyrelated cost-cutting projects in the district have already been completed.

The committee ultimately decided to consider whether to enter into the agreement at a future meeting.

In other business:

• Principals Kathleen Almanzor and Carole Melucci reported on upcoming assessments (Degree of Reading Power in grades 2 to 4 and 5 to 8; NECAP testing in October) and on the Sept. 16 Jamestown alllocal lunch. Melucci also updated the committee on the pre-school and kindergarten orientation and the faculty’s review of emergency drill procedures.

Melucci said that reading consultant Bill Oehlkers is providing early literacy professional development for grades K to 2, and that teacher Phil Capaldi facilitated for the Melrose faculty an introduction to the book “Writing in Science” by Betsy Rupp Fulwiler. Teacher Faith Krause shared her experience in science notebooking, and all teach- ers at Melrose are implementing science notebooking in their classrooms, Melucci said.

Almanzor reported on author Mawi Asgedom’s presentation to Lawn and Thompson Middle School students, on students’ discussions of the presentation during advisory and on plans for ongoing classroom activities related to Asgedom’s book. She also detailed the new language arts curriculum designed for 21st century learners that is being piloted in grades 7 and 8, and said that teachers Nick Alfred, Kristen DeSantis and Christine Bernardo are participating in a beta study to see how teachers use the PBS national media service for teachers. Almanzor also provided the committee with a copy of the Lawn School Learning Compact.

• The Lawn School Improvement Team discussed the use of a Google worksite to provide access to up-to-date minutes and to allow members to collaborate on the creation of documents. The Lawn School Learning Compact, which was to be introduced at the school’s open house, was also discussed.

• Melrose School Improvement Team member Marilyn Hostetler presented a website that allows SIT members to edit documents collaboratively, vote and connect between meetings. Members also discussed funding for an outdoor classroom.

• The North Kingstown School Committee discussed the establishment of a student advisory council, potential consolidation of select school and town functions, wind energy feasibility study results and the new curriculum website initiated by Assistant Superintendent Phil Auger.

• SELAC co-chair Lisa Eastep presented the 2009-2010 annual report, which details the year’s accomplishments.

• RIDE Associate Commissioner David Abbott presented on the fouryear roll-out and implementation of “Race to the Top” initiatives. Districts are required to submit action plans within the next month.

• B.J. Whitehouse will touch base with Lew Kitts on the issue of the color of outside doors.

• Policy sub-committee members will generate a meeting schedule.

The next workshop meeting of the Jamestown School Committee will be held on Thursday, Oct. 7. The next business meeting will be held on Thursday, Oct. 21. All meetings begin at 7 p.m. in the Lawn Avenue School Library.

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