VALATIE–Two new board members were sworn in at the Ichabod Crane Board of Education meeting this week. Matthew Nelson and Jeffrey Ouellette were the two highest vote-getters in the district’s annual vote in May. The third candidate to win a seat in the election, Anthony Welcome, is already on the board and will take the oath again at the board’s July session.
The board also said goodbye to the student representative on the board, Alexander Mangione-Smith, at the June 7 meeting. Alex, a senior at Ichabod, is the second student to serve as a representative since the board created the non-voting seat. Mr. Welcome, the board president, thanked Alex for his service.
Alex will be graduating with his class June 24 at the campus athletic field. Graduation has been moved up in the evening again this year to 6 p.m. due to an issue with the athletic lights on the field. After cracks were found in the poles supporting the lights the board approved replacing the poles last summer. The project has gone through approvals and officials hope the new lights will be ready before graduation.
Facilities Director Steven Marotta told the board that installing the new lights requires a crane and electricians. “We’re going to try to get [the lights] in in the next two weeks,” he said. But he cautioned that the project would take 7 to 10 days of work on fields that are in use by the district.
Mr. Ouellette said several residents had asked him about a recent track meet that had to be moved because of the issue with the lights.
“We’re looking to get those in before graduation,” said schools Superintendent George Zini.
Mr. Marotta attended the meeting to talk about testing that had been done on the school’s water. He said that since the school gets its water from the Village of Valatie the district is not required to test it, but he had representatives from the St. Peter’s Bender Laboratory take over 300 samples of all the potable water sources in the school buildings to test for the presence of pollutants like perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
Mr. Marotta said the lab tested “every drinking fountain, every faucet in the district.” He said the labs are backed up at this time and they should be getting back to the board this summer with results. He also said the district has been working with the county Department of Health about options if the tests do come back with elevated levels of PFOAs.
Also at the meeting:
• Mr. Zini thanked the community for supporting the 2016-17 school budget, which passed with of 69% approval. He pointed out that for the last three years the budget has passed with over 65% approval. District Business Administrator Michael Brannan thanked Board Clerk Mindy Potts for the work she does for the annual election. He said that this was the first year the district used the electronic ballot scanning machines for the vote
• Board member Regina Rose brought up the issue of recess monitors being cut in the upcoming school district budget; teachers in the lower grades have expressed concern about taking on the duties of those monitors. Primary School Principal Suzanne Guntlow said at the meeting that teachers would only have recess duty every 7 to 8 days and will still have time to meet with each other and students during recess
• The board heard a presentation form Meg Everett about the SmART School program funded last year by the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation through the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation. Last summer 14 teachers in the elementary and primary schools took a three-day training about integrating arts into general education. Throughout the year the teachers worked with local teaching-artists. Ms. Everett said she is applying to the Kelly Foundation again for a grant for the next school year. Mr. Nelson agreed to write a letter in support of the program for the board to approve
• The board heard a report from Tim Stewart, the chair of the Athletic Department, about the participation numbers of students in district sports. Mr. Stewart said that 44% of high school students and about the same amount of middle school students were on sports teams this year. “There’s plenty of teams. If you want to participate we have a sport for you at Ichabod Crane,” he told the board
• Resignations for the purpose of retirement were accepted from Barbara Grott (aide); Darlene Stever (bus driver); Rhoda Conway (bus driver); Dianne Loomis (bus driver); Cindee Mackey (bus attendant); Carolyn Shufelt (head cook); Denise Ebel (food service helper); and Darlene Smith (cleaner).
The next board meeting will be an organizational meeting July 5.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email