2010-11-04 / News

Jamestown extends deadline for high school students

By Sam Bari

The Jamestown School Committee approved an extension of the deadline for notifying North Kingstown if Jamestown will be sending additional students to North Kingstown High School. Likewise, North Kingstown will inform Jamestown if it cannot accept additional Jamestown students by the new deadline.

The unanimous vote at the Oct. 21 school committee meeting extended the Nov. 1, 2010 deadline to Jan. 1, 2011 to allow the two communities to complete the tuition contract negotiations.

School Committee Chairman Cathy Kaiser reported that a tentative agreement with the Jamestown Teacher's Association negotiating team had been reached concerning their contract. The committee tabled the agenda item to allow the union time to share the terms with its members and seek contract ratifi cation.

In other business, Superintendent Marcia Lukon reported that she had a meeting with Sodexo representative Solange Morrissette concerning staff feedback about the lunch program and plans to address the ongoing problem of families that owe the district money for lunches charged.

Lukon said that they decided to try allowing students to charge three lunches before giving delinquent payers cheese sandwiches and milk in lieu of the scheduled meals. She urged families that have difficulty in paying to call the school and they will do what they can to help subsidize or make other arrangements for payment.

The superintendent also reported on the district's submission for the Race to the Top (RTT), a federal education program designed to encourage improvements in state and local school districts. She said that it would be a major challenge for the district's limited number of administrators to complete the work required by the four-year RTT plan.

The nine South County school districts constituting Southern Rhode Island Collaborative have agreed to work together to accomplish RTT goals. The hope is that the districts will secure group funding that exceeds anticipated individual district RTT funding.

Additionally, Lukon reported that Jamestown is part of a Portsmouth request for Rhode Island Foundation funding to study the feasibility of a magnet school for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The academy would be an educational choice for academically able and motivated students interested in rigorous STEM studies.

Also, superintendents met with David Abbott from the R.I. Department of Education to discuss a district measure to conform to Best Education Program requirements.

Principals Kathleen Almanzor of Lawn Avenue School and Carole Melucci of Melrose School reported on recent professional development that allowed teachers and teacher assistants to explore Google applications in the computer labs.

At Melrose School, reading consultant Bill Oehlker is continuing to work with grades K-2. Also, Melrose faculty completed two online surveys measuring the current systems in place to support positive behavior in school support systems.

The principals also reported that the Jamestown Education Foundation has funded the district's After School Enrichment Program.

The Lawn Avenue School Improvement Team reported that the group discussed Island Treasures 2011 and the challenge of keeping plants alive in the Lawn corridor planters. Facilities Chairman B.J. Whitehouse said he would discuss the matter with the Director of Buildings and Grounds, Lewis Kitts.

The Melrose School Improvement Team reported that the group discussed the Thanksgiving sock drive, the opening of a new teacher resource room at Melrose, and problems reported with the electronic communication of information to parents.

Kitts introduced the new school custodian, Timothy Vietri, to the committee. The committee approved the appointment of Vietri as maintenance repair technician/custodian.

Wellness Committee Chairwoman Dana Long met with school nurse Renie Sullivan to discuss possible initiatives that included a health and wellness month during which students would track periods of activity and inactivity. They also discussed the need to educate parents on the impact of missed instruction when students are absent from school, particularly for reasons other than illness. Whenever students do not attend class, it affects the school rating, she said.

A letter from Jared L. Rhodes of the R.I. Statewide Planning Program, to Town Planner Lisa Bryer, announced tentative acceptance of Jamestown's Safe Routes to School application for $203,750 in federal funding.

However, Dr. Lukon and Safe Routes committee member Julie Kallfelz reported that expenditure of the grant is contingent on the resolution of Narragansett Indian tribe objections to soil disturbance on portions of the school grounds that have not been previously excavated and found to be free of Indian remains and relics.

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