School board sets levy, acts to reduce sports injuries

GERMANTOWN—The Board of Education of the Germantown Central School District set the tax levy for the 2015–2016 school year at its August 12 meeting. The district’s actual tax cap is 1.37%, and that board agreed on that figure.

Last spring the board had asked to review a few different tax levy scenarios, such as .5% or 0%, but by August the consensus was to go with the maximum allowable. The spending plan shared with district voters assumed a 1.37% tax levy, which results in a $20 tax increase for a house assessed at $100,000.

“The tax cap is a long-term disaster for schools,” said board member Jeremy Smith. Board president Tammi Kellenbenz agreed.

In other business:

  • Superintendent Susan Brown recognized the District Technology Committee for its work on the district’s application for the Smart Schools Bond Act. That act was passed in the 2014-15 state budget and approved by the voters in a statewide referendum held during the 2014 General Election. It authorized $2 billion of general obligation bonds to finance improved educational technology and infrastructure throughout the state. A review board must approve districts’ Smart Schools Investment Plans before any funds are made available.

Germantown’s plan has been “pre-submitted” to the state and will be formally submitted in October. The bond period starts with the 2015-16 school year

  • Greg Fingar of Fingar Insurance presented the board with the 2015-16 insurance proposal for the district. The annual premium is $42,852, an increase of about $2,200, said Mr. Fingar. The increase stems mostly from one major claim for an injury on a Family Fun Night. The building and its contents are insured for $32.5 million. The district is insured through Utica National Insurance Group, which insures over 600 school districts in the state
  • Board member Andrea Provan, a nurse practitioner, described the research she had done at the request of the board on sports-related concussions. In the literature she had read, she said, including the Journal of the American Medical Association, headgear made very little difference in avoiding or incurring a concussion. Headgear protects the face and skin, she said, but not inside the skull.

Ms. Provan said most articles reported that “if players are playing as they should be, and referees are refereeing as they should,” the incidence of concussion in school sports is reduced by 70%.

The Concussion Act of New York State, signed into law in July 2012, gives guidelines for educating adult personnel and assessing student concussions during and after sports events.

Ms. Provan suggested that money would be better spent, not on headgear but on tools to analyze whether a student athlete has a concussion and on additional training for coaches. Even before students start playing for the year, they should take an online test called Impact, which provides a baseline, she said. The board agreed that baseline testing should begin right away for varsity teams, since they start playing at the end of August

  • Board committees and meeting dates were set. Buildings and Grounds—board members Kellenbenz, Ralph DelPozzo and Donald Coons—did a walk-through of the school building August 24, preparing for a report to the board at the September 9 meeting. The Policy Committee—board members Kellenbenz, Provan and Smith—meets Wednesday, September 9 at 5:30 p.m. The Curriculum Committee—board members Kellenbenz, Faydra Geraghty and Theresa Repko—hold an organization meeting Wednesday, October 14 at 5:30 p.m.

Beginning in September, the board meets twice a month, the second Wednesday of the month for the regular meeting, and the fourth Wednesday of the month to oversee the Capital Project. All board and committee meetings are open to the public.

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