2011-01-27 / News

Melrose, Lawn Avenue school chiefs brief committee

By Geoff Campbell

Prior to hearing reports from the principals of the Melrose and Lawn Avenue Schools, the School Committee briefly discussed food service, the budget for the upcoming school year and the North Kingstown tuition contract at its Jan. 20 meeting.

The committee also approved the appointment of Michelle Philips as bus monitor and approved a leave-of-absence extension for teacher Wendy Mainella.

Food-service usage is down overall in spite of a spike in the number of Melrose Avenue School lunches purchased in December which, committee member Julie Kallfelz posited, was the result of a series of student-inspired menus.

The budget presentation is scheduled for tonight – Thursday, Jan. 27 – and it will not yet reflect the Uniform Chart of Accounts (UCOA) format, which is the staterequired financial-record-keeping system. The system continues to be tweaked, and the new format rollout is planned for February

Chairwoman Cathy Kaiser reported that there were no new developments in the Jamestown tuition contract for North Kingstown High School.

Superintendent Marcia Lukon’s report included an announcement concerning the Rhode Island Department of Education’s teacherevaluation program that is scheduled to be piloted this spring and a detailed description of the process by which a snow day is called.

Lukon answered several questions concerning the snow-day process. As of Jan. 20, only one of the four days built into the calendar as snow days had been used.

Lukon explained that she speaks with the Jamestown chief of police and the Town’s superintendent of roads in order to make an informed call. Lukon said that the Public Works department uses a snowfall rate of an inch an hour as their benchmark for being able to successfully maintain the roads during a storm.

She said that North Kingstown makes their call independently, and she said that only once in her fouryear tenure have the districts made opposite calls on a snow day.

Carrie Melucci, principal at the Melrose Avenue School, described the recent trip that the kindergarten took to the Audubon Society, which included a hike and a scavenger hunt.

Kathy Almanzor, the principal at Lawn Avenue School, presented a video on an interactive white board of the FIRST Lego League held at Roger Williams University on Jan. 15. The league is an offshoot of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics.

The original high school program was designed to bring handson collaborative problem solving into high schools and to rekindle an appreciation of math and science.

The league follows the same competitive problem-solving format but uses Legos as the medium with which the robots are constructed. This year’s challenge was to build a vehicle that could accomplish a series of medicalrelated missions such as inserting a stent into a damaged artery and deliver medicine.

All teams are given the challenge from FIRST headquarters on the same day and mentors whose professional experience pertains directly to mathematics, science, or robotics guide the process of construction.

Jamestowners Jack Hubbard and Joe Logan were league mentors for the Lawn Avenue teams.

Lukon said that the event “represents the problem solving aspects of the curriculum.”

The principals also informed the committee of an ARISA-grantfunded program presented by the Island Moving Company at the Melrose Avenue School, and a National Grid presentation to the seventh-grade class at Lawn Avenue School.

The winter sessions of afterschool offerings at both schools was the final item of the principals’ reports and a detailed list of the scheduled activities was made available to the group and each activity was described. The Jamestown Education Foundation and the Jamestown School Department funds the afterschool offerings and keeps the cost of the programs significantly lower than they would otherwise be.

The Melrose Avenue School programs include karate, cooking class, story-and-stretch yoga, taste of China, drawing class, strings, yoga and hip-hop. Additionally, Melucci described Scratch, a commuter programming class proved to be so popular teacher Phil Capaldi agreed to offer a second section.

The program at Lawn Avenue hosts yoga, science Olympiad, drama club, writer’s club, cooking, animation, yearbook introduction to printmaking and student council.

According to the School Committee Action Notes:

• The Melrose Avenue School Improvement Team discussed proposed changes to the strategic plan/ action plans, and scaled-down options for an outdoor classroom.

• At the Special Education Local Advisory Committee meeting, Gwenn Spence, the director of student services, shared the rationale for eliminating a special education teacher in the proposed upcoming budget. The group also met with school social worker Mark Allard to discuss the upcoming information night and the possibility of offering multi-session parent workshops.

• Committee member B.J. Whitehouse will meet with Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds Lewis Kitts to review the capital improvement budget.

• Committee member Dana Long reported that the Health and Wellness Group discussed upcoming wellness campaigns and both schools will incorporate Lyme disease prevention materials in the health curriculum.

The next meeting of the Jamestown School Committee will concern the 2011-2012 budget and is scheduled for tonight in the Melrose Learning Support Classroom.

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