ICC submits teacher review plan for state approval

KINDERHOOK–The Ichabod Crane Board of Education swore in Anthony Welcome as board president at the board’s organizational meeting this week. Mr. Welcome was also sworn in for his fourth term on the board.

There were three seats open on board in the May election–in addition to the expiration of Mr. Welcome’s term two board members resigned during the school year. In the election Matthew Nelson and Jeffrey Ouellette received more votes that Mr. Welcome so they were sworn in immediately after the election. Mr. Welcome was the third highest vote getter in the four-candidate race.

Mr. Welcome thanked the board for their support but said, “This will be my last year as president of the Board of Education.” He said the board needed to think about who should be nominated for president next year.

John Chandler was sworn in again as vice-president of the board. Board members Regina Rose and Mr. Ouellette voted against his appointment, though they did not nominate anyone else for the position. Ms. Rose told Mr. Chandler, “It’s not personal.” She said she didn’t like how he handled some issues.

The board’s regular meeting followed the organization session on July 5, with the board hearing several reports.

Melissa Murray, the principal in charge of APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review) for the district’s teachers and principals, said that the new profession review plan has been drafted and is being sent to the state for review after receiving board approval. Everything in the plan, she said, is the result of the collective bargaining process with the teachers’ union. She said once the state reviews it, the district will post the document on the district website, www.ichabodcrane.org.

Board members asked about student assessments, which have been an issue in the district. Ms. Murray said there is a moratorium until 2019 on using the state’s testing of students in grades 3 through 8 to evaluate the performance of teachers. She said a lot can change during the period of the moratorium, but for now the district can use in-house assessments to advise teachers as part of their performance reviews. She said there will not be more testing but administrators will look at the local testing results that the district already uses.

“We don’t want to do any more assessments, we have a huge opt-out rate here in the district,” she said of students in grades 3 through 8 whose parents refused to allow them to take the state tests.

“The opt-out movement said a lot to the Board of Regents,” she said.

The state has also given school districts more time to hand in their APPR plans, but Ms. Murray said Ichabod Crane would be one of about 190 schools getting its plan in for September.

The board also heard an audit report from Business Manager Michael Brennan and from the internal claims auditor Rich Phillips. Mr. Brennan said the district conducts several audits during the year, including two internal audits and one external audit. He said the audit process “creates transparency” and “provides insight in areas of improvement.” He also said that the district has not had a state audit in about five years and may be due for one.

As for the claims audit, Mr. Phillips says the district continues to improve its process of paying for and receiving products.

“This school has a lot of checks and balance in place for a school of its size,” said Board member Cheryl Trefzger after the report.

The board also heard a facilities report from Steven Marotta, the facilities director, who said that the foundations had been poured for the four new classrooms at the Primary School and work on the secure vestibules had started at both Primary and Middle School building entrances. This is part of capital project approved last year. Mr. Marotta also said the lights for the athletic field should be up by mid-July.

The Questar III pre-k program will also be moved from the High School to the Primary School this summer.

Schools Superintendent George Zini talked about the Smart Schools Investment Plan, saying it is moving forward with upgraded internet speed and new iPads and computers in most of the schools in the district. Of the $1.3 million in state funds, which the school district spends and is then reimbursed for, Mr. Zini said the district plans to spend about $690,000 in the first phase and will start planning how to spend the other $619,000.

The next school board meeting will be Tuesday, August 2 at 7 p.m. in the High School Library.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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