Enrollment drops but no job losses planned
CRARYVILLE–Taconic Hills Central School District will see a reconfiguration following the current school year, after the Board of Education voted last week to approve closing the Middle School.
The Middle School dissolution will mean that the Elementary School will consist of grades pre-K through 6, while the High School will be grades 7 through 12. The current configuration has grades 6 through 8 in the Middle School. The new groupings will take effect July 1, 2013.
In a phone interview schools Superintendent Neil Howard said that it was a long process to get state approval for the move, which was adopted due to declining enrollment. He says that it is more of a reorganization of the district rather than the closing of a school.
“No physical building is going down,” said Mr. Howard. He added that staff will be reassigned, not let go.
Mr. Howard was the Middle School principal before being named superintendent last summer. No replacement was hired to fill his vacated post. Rather, Director of Instruction and Staff Development Sandra Gardner took on extra duties and is filling in as the interim Middle School principal until the school is dissolved at the end of the school year.
At the January 23 board meeting, healthy snacks were a hot topic. Physical education teacher Colleen Romero gave a presentation introducing the school’s new “TUFF on Snacks” Program. TUFF stands for Titans Unified for Fitness.
Ms. Romero said the school secured a $2,500 grant to start the program to “encourage students to make healthier choices with their snacks.” She said letters are being sent home to parents and a list of suggested healthy snacks are being provided. She displayed a list to the board, and said this information can be found on her page on the schools district’s website, www.taconichills.k12.ny.us/index.html.
Later in the meeting, the board had a discussion about food policy, with questions about whether a policy was needed to outline what snacks school staff members were allowed to give students. Supervisor of Transportation Richard Viebrock wanted to know what bus drivers would be allowed to hand out to student passengers on Valentine’s Day.
Board member Steve Argus said that he wouldn’t have an issue with bus drivers handing out candy on special occasions, but believed some kind of policy needed to be in place. “We have administrators doing their own thing here,” he said. “This needs to be set as a policy, one way or the other.”
Mr. Howard said that the district’s liability should be considered. He said that in cases where students may have medical conditions such as diabetes, the children won’t always make the right decisions when being offered candy from staff.
Mr. Argus suggested that the board choose a healthy snack item from Ms. Romero’s suggestion list for Valentine’s Day, but other board members argued that it could be too expensive for bus drivers.
Board member Donald McComb wanted to know why this was a board decision.
“Our job is to protect the children,” Mr. Argus replied.
After discussion, Mr. Howard said he would call on the Wellness Committee to meet before Valentine’s Day to discuss the issues further.
In other business:
*Board President Kevin Maisenbacher announced that an agreement was reached with the Taconic Hills Faculty Association. There has been no contract since the 2007-08 school year. The new contract would run through June of this year
*Nick Smith, superintendent of buildings and grounds, said that the pool will now be super-chlorinated every Saturday evening and will be closed Sundays. He said this is to cut down on “unscheduled downtime”
*The board approved the Inter-Municipal Cooperation Agreement between the Town of Copake Highway Department and the Towns and Villages of Columbia County and the Taconic Hills School District to “share resources in the undertaking of public works and other municipal improvement projects and services”
*The board approved a resolution to assume the duties of the internal claims auditor from February 13 to 25, 2013 in the absence of Susan McNamee.
The next board meeting will be February 27 at 6:30 p.m.