2013-12-05 / Front Page

Tuition agreement reached between school committees

Increase may cost island taxpayers $15,000 more to send students to NKHS
By L.A. Murphy

Following months of negotiations, North Kingstown approved Jamestown’s tuition contract, the School Committee learned at its Nov. 21 meeting. The total annual increase for Jamestown is expected to fall between $4,000 and $15,000.

One reason for the increased expenditure is Jamestown will now share the cost of workers compensation for school professionals at North Kingstown High. School Committee Chairwoman Cathy Kaiser said the cost should have been part of the formula from the beginning, but it was overlooked.

Another reason for the increase is additional legal costs for “routine” contract negotiations. According to Kaiser, since the town of North Kingstown has a history of contentious negotiations with its unions, Jamestown’s share will not include any legal expenses stemming from mediation, arbitration, litigation or any continued legal involvement as a result of arbitration.

In the event North Kingstown incurs legal expenses related to Jamestown students, the two towns will negotiate on a case-bycase basis its level of responsibility for the costs.

In other news, the board agreed with some trepidation to allow the Conanicut Island Art Association to use the stage area in the Melrose School multipurpose room for its holiday craft fair. The committee waived a portion of its buildinguse policy for this year’s event, but suggested the Lawn School gymnasium would be a better fit next year. CIAA President Gail Bolger disagreed, but said she was grateful the School Committee waived a portion of the policy under the circumstances.

The restrictions to the stage area were put in place as a result of damage to the stage following last year’s craft fair. A stipulation in the rental agreement says the CIAA will take financial responsibility for repairs needed that are a direct result of hosting this year’s fair. A new stage curtain and other upgrades were installed as a result of the damage last year, said Superintendent Marcia Lukon.

Also, Lukon reported there was continued work on policies regarding school safety. In light of a recent episode in Providence where an elementary student was released to an unauthorized relative, Lukon said local safeguards for pick-up procedures will be reviewed.

Previously, in a closed-door executive session, committee members discussed procedures to search and seize weapons brought on school grounds. Kaiser said she was “confident that those who took on the responsibility to compile the comprehensive new safety plan had worked in conjunction with both town fire and police chiefs.”

By a 3-0 vote, the committee also approved a revision to the policy regarding school volunteers. School volunteers are required to undergo background checks. Lukon said she spoke with Police Chief Ed Mello and the changes were in compliance with a new state law.

Finally, the committee approved the appointments of Darlene Froberg as yearbook advisor and Kevin Deacon as basketball coach. Lukon also reported that Town Administrator Kevin Paicos has indicated the council is available to meet with the School Committee on Monday, Dec. 16, at Town Hall for its joint meeting to discuss the upcoming budget.

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