Ed department backlog stalls ICC safety

KINDERHOOK–Ichabod Crane School District Superintendent George Zini told the Board of Education this week that construction to expand the Primary School and create safer entrances to the school buildings will be put off by a year due to holdups at the state.

“It would be months before we will be approved for the project,” he said at the March 3 board meeting. The $2.3-million capital improvement project, which was approved by the voters last May, has already received approval from the state Education Department for the architectural designs but is waiting on engineering approval. Mr. Zini said that there are 400 projects ahead of the ICC project and that the state officials told him they are understaffed. Mr. Zini called it “another state education issue” the district is having.

“This district has done everything we should have done,” said board member John Chandler referring to the project. Funding is coming from money that the board put in reserves to deal with the over-crowding issues in the Primary School and from state aid for school buildings. District officials anticipate state aid will pay for about 73% of the project.

“And now we’re stuck and the kids are suffering for it,” said Mr. Chandler.

The project includes four new classrooms at the Primary School and vestibules in the Primary and Middle schools that visitors would need to pass through before entering the schools. Another part of the project that included locks on the High School entrance and an electric sign announcing school events in front of the schools on Route 9, were separated from the main construction project in an effort to have the main project win faster approval. Mr. Zini said that he is waiting to hear whether plan for locks and the sign also need engineering approval. If they do, he said, those projects will also have to go in the long queue at the state. If not, they may be done this summer.

Mr. Zini also told the board that state aid amounts for the 2015-16 school year are also being held up, this time by the governor, making it hard for the district to start the budgeting process for the upcoming school year. “Right now it’s very hard to calculate anything,” he told the board.

He said the district is supposed to propose the preliminary budget on March 31. “Even March 31 is going to a guess, an estimate,” he said of the draft budget.

The board must approve the 2015-16 budget in April for it to be voted on in May.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting:

  • The board approved the retirements of Mary Ellen Andrews, Cathy Draper, Steven Fielman, Frances Franke, Gail Helfer, Pamela Kelley, Gail Lafferty, Nina Stegman, and DonnaMae Van Allen. Board President Anthony Welcome said, of the years all these teachers had worked in the district, “We are losing 228 years of experience with these individuals, and that’s hard to replace”
  • The portrait of Governor Martin H. Glynn that is hanging outside the Village Hall in Martin H. Glynn Municipal Building in Valatie was discussed. The school board lent the portrait to the Village of Valatie when the village rededicated the Glynn School as the municipal building. Several months ago the school board approved a motion saying that the portrait was on loan to the village and that the district could take it back if necessary.

Members of the Valatie community, including Village Historian Dominic Lizzi, came to the board meeting to urge that the portrait remain at the Glynn Building. Mr. Lizzi read a letter from Valatie Mayor Diane Argyle saying, “After careful consideration of these facts and concerns, it will not be possible for the Village of Valatie to agree to the stipulations and resolution set forth by the ICCSD Board.”

Mr. Welcome and Mr. Zini both stressed they do not plan to take the portrait back. Mr. Welcome said he would reach out to the mayor to resolve the issue.

The next board meeting is Tuesday, March 31 at 7 p.m. in the High School Library.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

 

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