KINDERHOOK–The Ichabod Crane Board of Education accepted the resignation APPR Principal Melissa Murray for purpose of retirement at their regular meeting on Tuesday. Ms. Murray has worked in the district since 1983. She had been a teacher in both the Middle and Primary schools, and was the principal at the Primary School before taking over the administrative roll of developing teacher evaluations, or Annual Professional Performance Review. Ms. Murray will retire in June.
The board appointed current Primary School Principal Suzanne Guntlow to the position of APPR principal after some discussion about the position at the February 7 meeting. She will start July 1, which means the board will be looking for a new Primary School principal. Ms. Guntlow was appointed Primary School principal in December 2013.
After a closed-door session during the meeting, the board returned to the public meeting to appoint Ms. Guntlow. Superintendent George Zini said the position of APPR principal has many of the same duties as an assistant superintendent but would cost the district less. The district cut the assistant superintendent position in 2010. Mr. Zini said appointing a new assistant would cost the district another $45,000 in salary. Ms. Guntlow will start in the new position with no change in her current salary.
Mr. Zini stressed that Ms. Guntlow “is the right fit” for the position. He has resigned effective in June and the board will be hiring a new superintendent later this month. “I’m trying to leave this district with a good transition,” he told the board.
Board member Jeffrey Ouellette said he had a just learned about the proposed change in staffing on Friday and had just received the APPR principal’s job description that night. “I’m not prepared to make a decision,” he said. Board member Matthew Nelson also pointed out that the board had not reviewed Ms. Guntlow’s qualifications. And board member Regina Rose was concerned with hiring Ms. Guntlow without consulting the superintendent candidate the board hopes to hire.
Mr. Zini emphasized again that Ms. Guntlow was right for the job. During the public comment period a teacher in the audience who said she represented the views of her colleagues also expressed support for Ms. Guntlow taking the position.
Mr. Ouellette abstained on the appointment. All other board members voted to appoint Ms. Guntlow.
As for Ms. Murray’s retirement, the board thanked her for her years at the district. Board President Anthony Welcome said that when she was a teacher at the Primary School he observed her class, and “she was the best teacher I have every observed.”
The board also accepted the resignation of school psychologist Seymour Balsen. He has been with the district since 1994.
Also at the meeting:
• Board members discussed the appointment of Betsy DeVos as federal education secretary. Mr. Nelson said the district teachers had asked the board to send a letter opposing her nomination. Ms. Rose said now that Ms. DeVos has been confirmed the board’s Communications Committee would draft a letter expressing the board’s “concerns and making suggestions”
• The board approved a plan to spend another $256,000 of the Smart Schools Investment Plan for new desktop computers for some teachers, as well as new keyboards and headphones for iPads in the Primary School, among other equipment upgrades. The plan has to be approved by the state Education Department before the school spends the money, which will be reimbursed by the state. Details of the plan are on the district’s website at www.ichabodcrane.org. The board held a public hearing with no comments from the public
• Mr. Zini presented preliminary state aid numbers for the 2017-18 school budget to the board. He said that state aid is up by about $650,000. “That’s good news,” he told the board. Mr. Zini said the district is looking at a $38.8 million proposed budget for next year, which will be below the state tax levy increase cap of 1.47%.
The next board meeting will be March 7 at 7 p.m. in the high school library.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email