GERMANTOWN—Matters regarding the future of the Germantown Central School District were on the table of the Board of Education at its regular meeting March 13.
The board set the Public Hearing for the 2013-2014 school budget for Wednesday, May 8 prior to that evening’s regular board meeting.
Wednesday, April 3 is when the board plans to approve a budget proposal. This meeting will replace the regular meeting April 10.
On April 10, the board plans to attend the annual meeting and dinner of Questar III BOCES, at which that agency’s budget will be presented. “Our own Don Kline will be retiring from the Questar III board” that night, after 37 years of service on it, said interim Superintendent Patrick Gabriel, “and I think it would be proper to change our meeting and attend.”
From the audience Mr. Kline explained that the Questar III board consists of 11 members, five from Rensselaer County, four from Columbia County and two from Greene County. Serving on the board is “a great opportunity, and a rewarding experience,” he said. Lynn Clum volunteered for the Questar III board, and the Germantown board nominated her unanimously. The Questar III board makes the final appointments.
In a phone interview after the meeting, board President Eric Mortenson discussed the board’s search for a new superintendent. Resumes will be accepted until April 12. The board is developing an advisory committee to assist in the search, consisting of two members of public, one student, one administrator, one person from the district’s Special Education Department and two teachers. The goal is to form the committee at the board’s budget workshop scheduled for Wednesday, March 27 at 6 p.m.
Because of time constraints–Mr. Gabriel will serve only through August–board members approved the recruiting brochure via email on March 18; it will be printed and distributed by BOCES Questar III.
In other business, the board:
•Learned that the tax levy limit on the 2013-14 district budget is 2.5%, noticeably higher than last year’s 1.77%. Board member Ralph DelPozzo, who is also town assessor, noted that assessments in Germantown are “going down,” so residents are “better off” even with a property tax increase for school support
•Learned from high school principal Karol Harlow that David Marzahl is valedictorian and Anastasia Leto is salutatorian of the Class of 2013
•Directed Mr. Gabriel with putting $12,000 into the district budget for the GCS Education 2015 Committee. This volunteer community group seeks to find ways to sustain the district and provide a high-quality education to its students. The board would not provide a “blank check,” said Mr. Gabriel. The committee would bring a proposal to the board for use of the money
•Discussed online learning at the high school with Ms. Harlow and guidance director Amelia Gallagher. At this time nine students are taking 11 courses online, for “credit accrual,” that is, in addition to the usual curriculum. Summers, students often take online courses for “credit recovery,” to make up courses they failed; in this case, the online course is part of the student’s report card and grade point average. In addition to issues of supervision, readiness and motivation–“this is a lot more than just having a child on a computer,” said Ms. Harlow–the board discussed the need for a policy on recognizing online courses taken for additional credit. Three administrators will meet with the board’s Policy Committee to devise a policy
•Discussed revision of the district’s policy manual. This is a labor-intensive process, said Mr. Gabriel, but each school district is required to have a complete, up-to-date policy manual. The goal is to have an updated manual by the time of this year’s organization meeting in July. “The down side of doing it is that it’s a lot of reading and a lot to cover,” said Mr. Gabriel. “The down side of not doing it is that it drags on”
•Learned from Mr. Gabriel that Questar III BOCES is “seriously considering” restarting its continuing education program. The agency will be surveying its districts regarding interest. Mr. Gabriel will follow up on this
•Heard a report on the GCS Education 2015 Committee from Shelly Fiebich. The group continues to meet the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. Committee members attended both region-wide advocacy sessions and “picked up energy and advocacy tips,” she said. They met with representatives of the New Lebanon Central School District to learn about that district’s technology and nanotechnology programs. At their last meeting, they had a presentation on an internal model–“what we think an innovative and forward-looking school would be like.”
All board members except Brittany DuFresne, and an audience of about 20 attended the meeting.