ICC board interviews 3 for open seat

KINDERHOOK–Ichabod Crane school board members interviewed three candidates this week for the open seat on the board. Afterward board members discussed the appointment in a closed-door session They hope to fill the seat before the next board meeting on September 20.

The seat was left open when John Chandler resigned from the board last month. Branden Caluneo, Daniel Cohn and Michael Stead have applied for the one-year term. At the Tuesday, September 6 meeting board members asked each of the candidates why they want to be on the board and what they can bring to the Board of Education.

Mr. Stead served on board last year after being appointed to fill a vacancy at that time. He also ran for election in May but did not win a seat. He said he applied to fill this newest vacancy to have a chance to continue the work started while on the board. Mr. Stead is a teacher in the Chatham School District and has three children at ICC.

Mr. Caluneo is a recent graduate of the district and said he could bring a new perspective to the board. “Students are the most important thing about this district,” he said. He is currently attending Hudson Valley Community College and was involved in many activities at ICC, including Boy’s State.

Mr. Cohn works for the IRS locally and is a pastor at a church in Stuyvesant. His children attend school in the district. He said serving on the board is an “opportunity to give back to the community.” He said that as a pastor he looks at “proactive approaches” to issues and that he can be flexible.

The board expects to announce its decision on the appointment before the September 20 meeting because at that special session the board will meet with officials from Questar III BOCES about the search process for a new school superintendent. Current District Superintendent George Zini has notified the board that he will leave the district when his contract is up in June 2017.

This week’s board meeting happened to fall on the first day of school, and Mr. Zini addressed an issue affecting bus transportation earlier that day. Buses were running about 30 minutes late for afternoon drop-offs. Mr. Zini said that transportation disruptions often happen on the first day and that problems should be worked out by the end of the week.

The board appointed Daniel Doyle head bus driver effective August 22. Mr. Doyle, who was at the meeting, told the board, “I think today was unacceptable.” Phone messages and emails did go out to parents warning of the late arrival of buses.

The board discussed hiring a transportation consultant at $50 an hour to look for efficiencies in the department. Mr. Doyle said that the consultant, who is already working with the department, has found areas that need improvement and that she works two to four hours at a time.

Board member Jeffrey Ouellette voted against hiring the consultant. The hire was effective August 24.

Also at the meeting:

• Several high school students spoke out about the new backpack policy in the district. Students are not allowed to carry backpacks or large bags in the hallways between classes. They can carry smaller bags, like purses.

“I think taking this away from us is just not fair,” said one student. She said that it shows the administration does not trust the students. “It’s not the backpacks, it’s us,” she said.

The school’s resident Sheriff’s Office Deputy Toby VanAlstyne attended the meeting to talk to the board about his work in the school. He said of the policy, “I felt it needed to be done”

• Facilities Director Steven Marotta reported on the district’s water testing saying that of 297 samples taken some came back with evidence of lead and copper. He said he was talking to the Village of Valatie and to the county and the state Health Departments about the copper issue. One water fountain has been shut down due to lead levels and some sinks have warnings that the water is not for drinking.

“As of right now everything is safe,” Mr. Zini said of the water.

The next board meeting is at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, September 20 in the High School Library.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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