ICC board gives standardized tests low grade

KINDERHOOK–The Ichabod Crane Board approved a motion at the regular meeting Tuesday, May 7 asking state and federal lawmakers to reassess the need for extensive standardized testing.

Superintendent George Zini also talked about the Facilities Committee decision to move the district’s the central office from the middle school to the high school, which would free three rooms to be used by students. Mr. Zini also said that at the high school, the central office could have its own entrance, which would be better for security reasons. Currently anyone going to the central office has to walk through the middle school, which houses grades 4 through 8.

“The high school has more room than any school right now,” he said. Mr. Zini estimates adding the separate entrance for central office would cost about $100,000. He also commented on moving the offices to the Martin H. Glynn School, which is now owned by the Town of Kinderhook and Village of Valatie. The agreement transferring ownership from the district to the municipalities allows the district to use two rooms in the building. He said moving the central office to the old school in Valatie would be more expensive than moving to the high school based on the cost of needed upgrades plus heating costs and Internet service at the Glynn building.

He also discussed adding a trailer or building two new classrooms at the primary school. Both projects would cost about $150,000, but Mr. Zini said that the board is waiting to hear back from the state Education Department to see whether the proposal to add classrooms would be eligible for state aid. The trailer, which would cost $140,000 and house two 3rd-grade classrooms, would receive no state aid, but there is money to cover the expense in the 2013-14 budget if it is approved by voters May 21.

The district closed two elementary schools two years ago due to declining enrollment and moved all the students into three buildings at the Route 9 campus. The superintendent said the district didn’t need the two older buildings–the Glynn School and the Martin Van Buren School in the Village of Kinderhook, but, he added, “We can use two or three classrooms.”

The board also heard from representatives from the Kinderhook Central School Arts and Humanities Endowment Fund about raising money for arts and enrichment grants for the district. The fund receives about $45,000 from the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation, which is now asking the school endowment board to match the amount to continue receiving the money.

Karen Hummel, from the Kinderhook endowment fund, said her group is reaching out to local individuals and businesses to raise the money. She also announced that Jack Shainmen, the owner of the Martin Van Buren School building in Kinderhook, has offered to have the endowment use of the space where he now stores major artwork that he sells for a fundraiser in the fall.

“We are dreaming big,” Ms. Hummel told the board of fundraising idea.

In their motion to deal with the statewide extensive testing, the Ichabod Crane Board urged lawmakers to “reexamine public school accountability systems in our state, and to develop a system based on multiple forms of assessment which does not require extensive standardized testing.” The motion also asked Congress to overhaul the No Child Left Behind Act.

Board member John Chandler talked about the “over reliance and abundance of high stakes exams.” And board Vice President Regina Rose said of the company that creates the exams and also sells the curriculum to the schools, “I believe there is a profit model here.”

Ms. Rose also said, “We are going to send [the resolution] to everybody, including the President of the United States.”

The next board meeting will be the budget hearing on Tuesday May 14 at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium. The candidates running for the board will also be introduced at that meeting.

To contract reporter Emilia Teasdale email .


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