ICC reviews school security

KINDERHOOK — Ichabod Crane Board of Education President Anthony Welcome opened the December 18 workshop meeting with a moment of silence for the students, teachers and administrators killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14. Mr. Welcome called the shootings “an unspeakable tragedy.”
The board went on to discuss how to show support of the Connecticut school district and look at the safety procedures at the Ichabod Crane Central School District. Middle School Guidance Counselor Dale Tuczinski gave a presentation about the Dignity For All Students Act, a state education law intended to help end harassment in schools. He showed the board videos he uses with students at the middle school that deal with bullying.
Mr. Tuczinski says that ICC is trying to create a positive community for students. “A lot of the work we do is to create a pro-social environment where students feel safe,” he told the board. Part of the law includes staff training, and Mr. Tuczinski said that counselors and administrators are working at keeping good notes when reporting issues in the school and listening to students’ complaints.
He pointed out that cyber-bullying on Facebook and through email is a huge issue now for students and that a higher percentage of students have reported being teased because of their weight or physical appearance. “Kids are connected,” he said of the Internet, “They just are.”
“It’s the culture of this school that everyone has the awareness,” said Interim Superintendent Lee Bordick after Mr. Tuczinski’s presentation.
Mr. Bordick talked about dealing with the aftermath of the school shootings in Newtown, saying that he got a team of counselors and administrators together that Friday to prepare for the opening of school Monday, December 17. He said the district was supported by the county Sheriff’s Office and State Police that day and would continue to be.
Board member Susan Ramos said she called Mr. Bordick to discuss having police in the schools permanently. “When you have buildings full of children that are defenseless, and people are breaking-in, you have to step it up,” she said of security on the buildings.
Mr. Bordick said the district did have a resource officer, a deputy sheriff stationed at the high school at one point, but the position was cut from the budget. He said he assumed that would be more discussion on the issue of school safety.
“I have no doubt it will be coming down from the top,” said board member Regina Rose of the security issues. She asked that the board’s facilities committee meet to discuss the security of the buildings. “I know we have an excellent system,” said Ms. Rose, but she said she, as well as other board members and administrators, had ideas about improvements.
Mr. Bordick said there could be funds from the $7 million capital improvement project approved by voters December 12 that could be used for security upgrades. The facilities committee will meet and then bring ideas to the whole board in the coming months.
Ms. Rose also asked that the board send flowers to the Sandy Hook School to show support form one school district to another. Board members debated whether or not the community has been overwhelmed with flowers and discussed if there was a different way to show support. Board member Bruce Naramore said he would do research to find out what the community is asking be done for to remember the victims.
This was Mr. Bordick’s last board meeting after serving as Interim Superintendent in the district for two and half years. “I’m proud to pass the baton to Mr. Zini,” Mr. Bordick said of incoming Superintendent George Zini, who will run the January 8 regular board meeting.
“It’s been an honor to serve you folks,” Mr. Bordick told the board.
“Thank you for all you’ve done for Ichabod Crane,” said Mr. Welcome.
Also at the meeting, the board:
•Heard that the district’s Annual Professional Performance Review for teachers and administrators has been approved by the state Education Department. Schools that do not have their APPR completed by January could have state funding withheld, but Mr. Bordick announced at the meeting, “We’re done.” The APPR for the district will have to be approved again next year
•Heard that the closing for the sale of the Martin Van Buren School in the Village of Kinderhook is scheduled for Friday December 21. The building is being sold to gallery owner Jack Shainman for $550,000. Mr. Bordick said he hoped to also have the closing on the Martin H. Glynn School in Valatie before the end of the month. That building is being sold for $1 to the Town of Kinderhook and the Village of Valatie to be used as municipal offices  
•Announced that the board will hold the first of several budget forums on Tuesday, January 15 at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium. The topic for this first forum will be the athletic program.
The next regular board meeting will be Tuesday, January 8 at 7 p.m. in the middle school library.

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