GERMANTOWN–The Board of Education of the Germantown Central School District curtailed its January 9 meeting so that board members and the community could join the family of the late Cynthia Smith, a longtime teacher in the district and former school board member, in the celebration of her life that was being held that night.
The meeting could not be cancelled, however, and the board met for 28 minutes to transact two items of business. By unanimous voice vote, Susan Brown, principal of the Germantown Elementary School, was appointed interim superintendent of the district January 9-14, 2013, the first week of the retirement of superintendent Patrick Gabriel.
In another unanimous voice vote, Mr. Gabriel was appointed interim superintendent from January 15 through August 31, 2013.
State law prohibits Mr. Gabriel from working the day after his retirement, and state education law requires that each district have a superintendent; thus the brief shift in titles.
Speaking from the audience, Victor R. Miller of Gallatin asked the board what efforts the district was making to protect children while they are in or near school.
Board President Eric Mortenson replied that school safety was a priority for the board, the administration and the faculty of the district, but specifics are confidential.
Mr. Gabriel said that the front entrance to the school is secure and all other entrances are either locked or monitored. The crisis plan has been reviewed and the Crisis Committee continues to meet.
“We take drilling seriously,” Mr. Gabriel noted; just days before the killings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, Germantown had a lockdown drill.
Since then, “we looked at how our radios were functioning and decided to upgrade a couple of them,” Mr. Gabriel added. Purchase orders have gone out. What could be done immediately was done, he said, and the review of procedures and equipment continues.
In response to additional questions from Mr. Miller, Mr. Mortenson said that the district is saving $8,000 to $10,000 with the retirement of Mr. Gabriel. The district no longer pays into his retirement fund or for his hospitalization coverage.
All board members except Lynn Clum were present.
The board set a special meeting for Wednesday, January 23, at 6 p.m. At that time the board will take up the rest of its January agenda. This includes interim superintendent Gabriel and school business manager Cathy Gomm giving an overview of the budget outlook for the 2013-14 school year and options for the board to consider in developing a proposed budget.