2011-02-10 / News

Committee continues to discuss proposed budget

The School Committee unanimously voted not to renew the contracts of eight non-tenured teachers and one teacher in a job-share position at last week’s business meeting. The 4-0 vote to approve the non-renewal during the Feb. 3 meeting came on a recommendation from Dr. Marcia Lukon, superintendent of the Jamestown School Department.

Also discussed at the meeting was Lukon’s $11.89-million budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year, which was put forward in a presentation at the Jan. 27 School Committee meeting. This week the administration answered questions from the committee and also expanded on some of the budget goals of the proposed 2011-2012 operating budget.

Director of Finances Jane Littlefi eld corrected the salary-line item increase that was reported during the Jan. 27 meeting. At the Jan. 27 meeting, Lukon said that the budget represented a 2.4-percent increase over last year, resulting in a 1-percent change in the totals over two years. Littlefi eld corrected the initial report, and said the number would be reduced from a 2.4-percent increase to 1.9 percent.

Littlefied also provided a fiveyear history of retiree benefits. In fiscal year 2007, the retiree benefi ts packages totaled $257,928. The proposed budget would see an increase of nearly 58 percent over five years, to $406,277.

According to the School Committee Action Notes, “The committee noted the need to meet with individuals who retired with full health care coverage – under the terms of earlier contracts – to present the case for moving to a medigap plan.”

Medigap plans are private supplemental health insurance plans. The plans are sold to Medicare recipients and provide coverage for the “gap” in expenses such as co-payments and deductibles that aren’t covered under Medicare.

Littlefield said she will contact the insurer to see whether or not retirees can participate in a trial period and, if dissatisfied with the coverage, if they would be allowed to return to full coverage.

Committee member Julie Kallfelz raised concerns about the addition of a third classroom teacher at the fifth-grade level at Lawn Avenue School, and Principal Kathleen Almanzor said the recommendation was based on curricular needs. Also, committee Chairwoman Catherine Kaiser asked the administration if curriculum concerns could be addressed by using the same system used for seventh and eighth graders – where subject teachers have the same students for both years – for the fifth and sixth grades. According to the notes, the administration agreed to “examine the feasibility of this plan and report back at the next budget meeting.”

Lukon also told the committee that health care costs and the North Kingstown High School tuition figures would be revised and presented at the next School Committee budget meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 15.

The meeting will start at 7 p.m. at the Melrose Avenue School.

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