2011-04-14 / News

Calendar for upcoming school year approved

By Geoff Campbell

The Jamestown School Committee unanimously approved the 2010-11 school-year calendar during its April 7 meeting and also unanimously adopted a resolution asking for legislative support to help establish a local magnet school.

Superintendent Marcia Lukon began the calendar conversation by recommending an Aug. 31 start date for the upcoming school year calendar. She said that the earlier start, by one day, was supported by the majority of the faculty. The Aug. 31 date was also seen as favorable by the military liaison, who confirmed that students in military families are more likely to be in place in August than later in June.

Lukon explained that special education teachers will have an in-service day on Aug. 29 and all teachers will report on Aug. 30. The last day of the school will be June 15 barring the use of five snow days that will be included in the calendar.

Lukon explained that the district will use a new approach regarding professional development days. Lukon said that development days were attached to “traditional vacations” in an effort to provide an extra day for children. She also noted that there has been a problem with parents keeping their kids out beyond the school-sanctioned vacations and that the federal No Child Left Behind legislation holds the school district accountable for a student’s attendance as well as their achievement.

Lukon said that in addition to coupling vacations and development days, snow days that occur on a development day will result in pushing the development day activities to the next day, giving the students another day off.

She explained that to postpone professional development days to the end of the year is not in the best interest of either the teachers or the students. She also explained that snow days are called in light of the advisability of school buses getting on the road. She said that canceling a development day is unlikely, given the typical 8 a.m. start and the difference between a teacher’s ability to travel in their cars to work versus bus transportation. Lukon said that parents will be made aware of this procedural change regarding development days and snow days. The calendar was unanimously accepted.

Regarding personnel, Lukon recommended approval of Courtney Hancur as the district’s child outreach coordinator, a part-time position that was made available due to a resignation. Lukon also recommended the approval of Theresa Colantuono as occupational therapist, a part-time position that was previously filled by a contracted service, and Marilyn Hill as bus monitor.

The energy audit update revealed that the Washington County Regional Planning Commission is dropping Northeast Energy Services Company, the firm that conducted an energy audit at Lawn and Melrose Avenue Schools, according to Lukon.

Lukon expressed disappointment regarding the level of detail of the audit, which was funded by a grant. When asked for an evaluation of the heating system at Lawn Avenue School, the firm said simply, replace the furnace. Lukon added that she didn’t realize other districts were also unhappy.

The School Committee was expecting a report on next steps at the April 7 meeting, but instead the Washington County Regional Planning Commission postponed its scheduled attendance.

The next step would include deciding whether or not begin work that the audit indicated was necessary. Lukon also said that the Washington County Regional Planning Commission has replaced NORESCO with Johnson Controls, “expecting a higher quality of work.”

The final agenda item was the consideration of a resolution in support of forming a science, technology, engineering and math academy. The resolution speaks to the need in Rhode Island to improve math performance and to encourage students to pursue science, math and engineering careers. It also addresses the potential for corporate partners already present as part of the “largest cluster of defense-related companies in the state.”

The resolution asks for legislative support, both in terms of enabling legislation and approval to establish a magnet academy that would serve “the communities of Aquidneck Island, Jamestown and the East Bay.”

The resolution was unanimously adopted. Kaiser said that formal study of the project has yet to begin so potential enrollment is at least a year off.

The next meeting of the Jamestown School Committee is Thursday, April 28, at 7 p.m. at the Melrose Avenue School.

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