School Board discusses rental of buildingsThe Jamestown Public School Board will consider a change in its rental of buildings policy after a religiously affiliated conference recently rented the Jamestown High School theater during school hours. Some parents disagreed such a program should be allowed at the school at all or at least while classes were in session. One addressed the board at its regular meeting Monday.
The Jamestown Public School Board will consider a change in its rental of buildings policy after a religiously affiliated conference recently rented the Jamestown High School theater during school hours.
Some parents disagreed such a program should be allowed at the school at all or at least while classes were in session. One addressed the board at its regular meeting Monday.
The Rev. Susan Lester, pastor at First Congregational United Church of Christ, said she was speaking as a parent of two students.
Lester said religious education in public schools is inappropriate. Students should learn religious education in their homes and churches, she said. Bringing “God language” into schools crosses the line, she said.
“I am anti-church-and-state mingling at all,” she said.
Lester said the conference interfered with the students’ education.
The conference, called Jamestown Worldview Conference, rented the facility on April 9-10. Students were admitted free to its “Restoring America Through the Next Generation” session held at 1 p.m. that Friday. Classes were in session that day.
Superintendent Bob Toso said students were only permitted to attend with parental permission.
“No matter how we feel about an organization, we can’t say, ‘no, you can’t be in our gym,’” he said.
The board considered banning all organizations from renting high school space during school hours. Toso said some rentals are secular and for the students, like athletic tournaments for example.
The board also considered banning religious and political groups from renting school facilities during the school day. Toso said that leaves a gray area because it may sometimes be difficult to determine which groups are politically or religiously based and which are not.
The board tabled the decision for an upcoming meeting.
In other business, JHS Assistant Principal John Conway presented his vision on Jamestown North. Jamestown North is an alternative program for students older than age 16 who drop out of Jamestown High School. The board approved hiring Conway to oversee the program beginning next year at a previous meeting.
Conway said Jamestown North is in need of something similar to a school within a school for students struggling with their classes but aren’t 16 years old yet. To legally drop out from high school, a student must be at least 16 years of age.
Jamestown North should develop a program for 14- to 15-year olds, he said.
Jamestown Public School Board president Roy Musland questioned if Conway had the time to take on the responsibilities at Jamestown North. He said he believed Conway was qualified, but said he was concerned that Conway already had a full plate of job duties.
“As far as time, I don’t have enough time to do the work I have right now,” Conway said, saying he’d find a way to manage it.
Toso said keeping Conway as administrator at Jamestown North may not be a long-term solution.
Also, the Jamestown Public School Board approved hiring an eighth kindergarten teacher for the 2011-2012 school year. Administration had considered reducing the number of kindergartens to seven as a means to reduce staff through attrition, said Dave Saxberg, principal at Washington Elementary and director of elementary education.
Already, 126 students have registered for kindergarten, Saxberg said, meaning enrollment is on par with this school year. More students are expected to enroll throughout the summer.
Now, Jamestown Public Schools has 160 students and eight sections. The ideal class size for kindergarten is about 18 students, Saxberg said.
The Jamestown Public School Board has a community forum set for 7 p.m. April 27 at Jamestown Middle School. The board’s next regularly scheduled meeting is at 5:15 p.m. May 3.
Sun reporter Katie Ryan can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by e-mail at email@example.com