Kline recounts change and growth at Questar

GERMANTOWN—If there is a “Germantown” seat on the Questar III BOCES Board of Education, it continues to be held by a resident of the Germantown Central School District.

There is no such seat; nevertheless, as Donald Kline of Livingston retires from the Questar III board June 30, after 38 years of service, Lynn Clum of Germantown was elected to a three-year term on that board in an April 23 vote by the 22 component districts of Questar III BOCES.

Ms. Clum, 53, has served on the Germantown Board of Education for over 20 years “at one time or another” and has decided not to run again this spring.

As for the Questar III board, she wrote in an email, “I am interested in learning the ins and outs of Questar’s policies and its overall operation. I feel that my years of experience on Germantown’s board will allow me to come up to speed quickly.”

Coming from a small district (Germantown has 585 students, K-12), Ms. Clum looks to assist Questar III in developing programs beneficial to small districts, and she appreciates the shared services and educational programs that Questar III already offers.

“I love the impact that Questar III has on its students, from their learning to their making personal breakthroughs,” she said. “Allowing students to succeed on their own strengths and terms has always been important to me.”

At Questar III’s annual meeting on April 10, Mr. Kline received the G. Lucius Cary Service Leadership Award recognizing outstanding leadership and contributions through volunteer service that reflect the values and beliefs of Questar III, according to a press release. It is the organization’s highest honor and a tribute to Mr. Cary, a former Questar III board member.

Mr. Kline retires from the Questar III board as its vice president. Robert Gibson, like Mr. Kline a graduate of the Germantown Central School, is president. He lives near Albany.

Mr. Kline, 77, joined the Questar III board in 1975, after four years on the Germantown board. Two separate BOCES, founded in the 1950s and ‘60s, merged in 1977 to become the Rensselaer-Columbia-Greene BOCES in 1977. With input from its students, BOCES adopted the name Questar III in 1994, emphasizing its cooperative leadership in excellence and innovation, according to the BOCES website.

Mr. Kline recalled an organization that in the 1970s was focused on educating those with disabilities including learning disabilities. Since then BOCES has transformed itself, he said, adding technical education to its special education programs.

For example, the aviation program gives flying lessons in cooperation with Richmor Aviation, based at the Columbia County airport. Through Questar III, students can get a pilot’s license. They can also learn welding, the building trades, computer skills and nursing skills, among others.

BOCES also built new facilities during Mr. Kline’s tenure. At first most Columbia County students traveled to rented space in Troy or Greene County. Then the Rensselaer Educational Center in Troy, now owned and operated by BOCES, was established, and later, the Columbia-Greene Educational Center on Route 66 in Greenport. Both facilities offer career and technical education, and adult and continuing education.

With the Greenport site, “We could educate Columbia County students here and reduce transportation costs,” said Mr. Kline, who knows something about school busing. He ran his own school bus company for about 36 years, selling it at the end of 2011 to Johnson & Pulcher.

One of the problems with districts today, said Mr. Kline, is that they were consolidated in the 1940s and ‘50s, without a master plan. Mr. Kline attended a one-room school on Old Cold Spring Road in Livingston District #4. “We went with Germantown, but we could have gone to Hudson,” he said.

“Today buses travel through the Red Hook district to bring students to Germantown,” he added. “Kids in Ancram go to Germantown, while two miles down the road they go to Pine Plains. The eastern end of Maple Lane in Livingston goes to Red Hook, the western end to Germantown. Blue Stores is in the Red Hook district.

“There is no rhyme or reason to how it’s established. If there had been a master plan from the state—or someone—travel could have been more efficient.”

Looking at the future of local public education, Mr. Kline said, “It’s only natural that something has to happen, to create a more economical way to get education to children. At Questar III we do some remote [online] education, and that might be a way of solving problems in the future.

“It’s very difficult to consolidate districts,” he said, “even though the state tries to encourage it with financing incentives. People hate to lose their school. The future may require something done at the state level, for example a directive as to regional high schools. Though that creates more busing.”

Another idea, he said, would be for Questar III to increase its offerings of “electives and such” so that students in smaller districts could take them. In another area altogether, Questar III offers its districts business services. So, for example, should a business manager retire from a district, Questar III can fulfill that service.

Mr. Kline is confident about Questar III. “This is probably one of the most progressive BOCES in the state,” he said, “with programs that address students’ and districts’ changing needs.” During his long tenure, he saw many board members come and go, and “I am always amazed at the quality of the individuals that serve on that board. They come with diverse backgrounds, and every person has something to offer. I’m proud of the school districts, that they nominate people of such caliber.”

 

 

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