Cramped schools leave pre-school plan hanging

KINDERHOOK — The Ichabod Crane Board of Education held a meeting, September 6, following the first day of school to discuss the issues that have come up this year as the district consolidates its activities at one campus. The board also voted on the Annual Professional Performance Plan (APPR), a set of rules for teacher and principal evaluations that the state is still debating.

Interim Superintendent Lee Bordick thanked the administration for the smooth start of the school year. The district now has the primary, elementary, middle and high schools housed in three buildings on Route 9. The board voted last spring to close the two elementary schools in the villages of Valatie and Kinderhook.

Mr. Bordick reminded the board that the primary school is now at 100% capacity, while the middle school is almost there. Students managed to get to school but getting home was a little trickier. Flooding in local creeks and streams meant that busses ran a little late in the afternoon.

Mr. Bordick said he plans to discuss transportation with the board in future as the district looks for ways to save money. “It’s unique that we pick up every kid at their driveway. We can’t do that,” he said.

Closing the two elementary schools meant the district also had to close the free pre-school program sponsored by the Questar III BOCES. The district hopes to reopen the program if it can lease the Martin H. Glynn elementary school in Valatie to the Town of Kinderhook and use some of the space not needed by the municipalities to house the pre-school program. A board committee was formed to negotiate with the town and the village of Valatie about the deal.

“Our intention was always to have the pre-school,” Mr. Bordick said, adding that the district can still accomplish that if the lease with the town is finalized by October.

“We’re not there yet,” said board member John Antalek, who sits on the lease negotiating committee.

There is no room in the buildings at the district campus for the pre-school, but if enrollment declines in the district, as is predicted, “we’ll have more breathing room,” Mr. Bordick said.

The board also had to vote on the APPR evaluation plan to comply with state educational law and accompanying regulations of the Board of Regents and the commissioner of education. But the final details of the plan await a court ruling and the outcome of discussions with the teachers’ unions, even though school boards have been asked to adopt the proposals.

The controversy around the APPR involves tying test scores to teacher performance. “This is more of a political than an educational model,” said Mr. Bordick.

Board president Andrew Kramarchyk said that when speaking to the new teachers this fall he made it very clear that he had nothing positive to say about the APPR. He and board member Regina Rose voted against adopting the plan.

The board plans to hold one regular meeting each month and a second workshop meeting, as well as several committee meetings throughout the month. The first regular meeting will be Tuesday, September 20 at 6 p.m. in the High School Library. There next regular meeting will be Tuesday, October 4 at 7 p.m. in the Middle School Library. Meetings are posted on the district website, www.ichabodcrane.org.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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