ICC’s bright idea: share light costs, don’t sue

KINDERHOOK–The Ichabod Crane Board of Education approved a project this week to replace light poles on the athletic field at cost to the district of about $55,000. The total cost to replace the four light poles, which cracked and had to be removed last winter, is $92,155. The company that originally installed the poles in 2004 is covering $36,000 of the replacement costs as part of an agreement the company made with the district.

The board also adopted an updated Code of Conduct.

School Superintendent George Zini said at the Tuesday, August 4 regular meeting that he was recommending the board take the deal offered by Valmont Industries, the pole company, to pay part of the cost for the replacement instead of going with the board’s other options of filing insurance claims or taking Valmont to court.

He told the board that insurance would pay only for the pole that fell on the field in February. “We would only get $25,000” from the insurance claim covering that pole, he said. The district decided after the pole fell to remove the other three poles for safety reasons. It turned out that the remaining poles had tiny cracks caused by a phenomenon called harmonic resonance. The 10-year warranty for the poles had just ended and, as Mr. Zini told the board, the resonance issue was not covered by the warranty anyway.

Mr. Zini said that taking the company to court would be expensive for the district and a lengthy process. “And we may not win,” he said.

He stressed the new poles were designed using modern standards and would not be subject to the same harmonic resonance issue that affect the old ones. The new poles will not be up in time for the fall sports season, though Mr. Zini said he hoped they would in place by December.

“We’re trying to absorb this in this year’s budget,” he said of the cost. The district has also rescheduled all fall athletics games for daytime since there is no lighting on field.

The new poles will only have a one-year warranty, but Mr. Zini told the board that that is the industry standard for lighting equipment.

At the start of the meeting, the board held a public hearing to approve the district’s Code of Conduct and Attendance Policies. Mr. Zini told the board that changes in the Code of Conduct have to do with making the language clearer on bullying, discrimination and cyber communications, as well as come discipline measures taken by the district if a student is found with drugs.

He said there is language in the updated code about using breathalyzers at school events at the high school if the administration thinks a student might be under the influence of alcohol. There are also policies about drug sniffing dogs, which are used for school building searches and can now be used for searches in the parking lot of the high school.

Mr. Zini said he had cleared the new language in the policies with the district’s attorney. “We’re trying hard to help our kids make smart choices,” he told the board.

The board approved the Code of Conduct and the Attendance Policies, which will be on the district’s website at www.ichabodcrane.org.

Also at the meeting:

  • The board approved changing the deed the district signed in 1983 giving the Town of Kinderhook ownership of property in Niverville. The original deed gave the Town Board the parkland and building at 4 Church Street but not the land occupied by the building. The former school building in Niverville was the Town Hall until recently, when the Town Board moved to its present offices in Valatie, also a building formerly owned by the school district. The change in the deed allows the Town Board to move forward with its plans to sell the Niverville building
  • Alexander Mangione-Smith was appointed the non-voting student member of the board for the 2015-16 school year. Alexander is a senior at Ichabod Crane High School
  • Starting this fall, residents may pay their school taxes with a credit card. There will be a 2% fee for the transaction by the credit card company.

The next board meeting is Tuesday, August 18 at 7 p.m. in the High School Library.

 To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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