Can school board function without paper in hand?

CHATHAM–The school board this week discussed the next step toward a proposed $5-million capital improvements project. The plan calls for repairs or upgrades at the district’s buildings and would be paid for with capital reserve funds and federal economic stimulus money, with no additional tax burden placed on district taxpayers.

The board also talked about sharing the position of treasurer with another district, future professional development days for teachers, which would add two half-days to the school calendar, and moving to paperless board communications.

 

The board accepted the resignation of Laura Rafferty, the district treasurer, at its Tuesday, October 13, meeting. Schools Superintendent Cheryl Nuciforo said that the administration is already advertising the job, but she thought the board might be interested in considering whether to share the position with another district. “It is a model that is used in other parts of the state,” said Ms. Nuciforo.

There is a deputy treasurer already in the district and, if the position becomes a shared one, Ms. Nuciforo said other daily responsibilities could be taken over by business office employees.

Board member Denise Dapice said the board is open to the idea.

But other board members worried about overburdening the business staff and whether there would be real savings from sharing the position with another district. “I don’t want a situation where making a shared position [ends] up resulting in overtime,” said board member Francis Iaconetti.

Ms. Nuciforo said that more research would be done before the board needs to make a final decision.

The board also looked at estimated costs in each building for the proposed $$5,087,282 capital project. Ms. Nuciforo said the project focuses on Americans with Disabilities Act compliance issues, energy efficiency and programming. About $2 million of the project would be spent on the Chatham High School for renovations in the bathrooms to be ADA compliant, energy efficient lights in the gym and cafeteria, and expansion of the weight room to meet new physical fitness programming standards.

There is similar work planned at the elementary and middle schools. And board members hope to include work on the bus garage and gutter work on the Public Library.

The numbers at the meeting were not itemized but shown to the board as estimated totals, with a list of work on each building. “When you would [see] the individual costs is when you are in the design phase,” said Ms. Nuciforo.

The board discussed setting priorities for work and possibly adding projects if they come up as part of a five-year facilities plan now under consideration by the design firm SEI. The firm is also working on the capital project. Voters must approve the use of the capital funds and the federal stimulus money to pay for the project.

The board plans to hold a special meeting Tuesday, October 22, at which members will vote to place the capital project on a December 8 special election ballot.

Before this week’s meeting began, board member Fred Hutchinson said, “SEI needs to articulate where we are, where we need to be so we can articulate that to the voters.” The October 22 meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. in the High School Library.

In other business, the board’s Policy Committee is looking into moving to paperless communications for the board, and the administration will determine how best to provide technical support for that initiative.

Ms. Nuciforo talked about having staff devolvement workshops on teaching economically challenged students and working with high achieving students. The board supported the plan, and Ms. Nuciforo said she would look at the calendar for dates when the training sessions could be held. If the board approves the schedule, it would result in two half-days of school for students.

Updates on the district and board meetings are on the district website, www.chathamcentralschools.com.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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