ICC school board fills top administrative posts

KINDERHOOK–The Ichabod Crane Board of Education appointed Peg Warner the district’s director of education this week. With the appointment, Superintendent George Zini told the board, “That rounds out your administrative team.”

The Tuesday night, June 6, board meeting was Mr. Zini’s last in the district. He is leaving at the end of the month after four and half years in the position. The board appointed a new superintendent, Michael Vanyo, in March. In February, the board appointed current Primary School Principal Suzanne Guntlow to serve in the central office as principal for the APPR, a position that Mr. Zini said is like an assistant superintendent. She replaced Melissa Murray, who retired. And last month the board hired a new Primary School principal, Andrea Williams.

“I feel comfortable leaving with such a solid team,” Mr. Zini told the board.

Ms. Warner is coming to the Shenendehowa Central School District, where she was a special education director for 9th through 12th grades. Mr. Zini said she came “highly recommended.”

“I think we’ll see a lot of positive things in our Special Education Department,” he said of hiring Ms. Warner. The district had an interim special education director since April.

The board also recognized the work of its student representative, senior Alexis Hoffman. She has been a non-voting member of the board for the past year. And they thanked outgoing board members Michael Stead and Cheryl Trefzger, though neither of them attended the meeting. Recently elected board members Tammy Crawford and Brendan Caluneo were sworn in.

During the meeting the board discussed the new state learning standards and the effect it will have on future state testing. They also looked at the possibility of a mental health clinic in the district.

As for the standards, Ms. Murray gave her last report to the board about a state sponsored survey taken by teachers about the new state learning standards. Ms. Murray said that generally the survey takers saw “the good” in the changes but think more work is needed, especially in math. She said that the state Education Department (NYSED) only “came out with the revisions last month.”

The state asked for comments on the new standards until June 2. According the NYSED website, the Board of Regents plans to adopt the new standards this month.

“My understanding is that it is going to be pushed back,” said Elementary/Middle School Principal Tim Farley of the adoption.

The state plans to visit local BOCES “to develop and provide guidance on professional development for teachers to implement the new standards,” according a state press release. Mr. Farley said he will be at a meeting at Questar III, the BOCES that serves Columbia County school districts, for a meeting on June 15.

He and Ms. Guntlow both told the board that any changes to the state testing due to the new standards would not be seen until the 2018-19 school year.

Ms. Murray said that in terms of the new tests, ICC administrators would be “waiting to see if people are buying back into that or opting out of it.” Over 60% of students in the district opted not to take the state tests this year.

The new standards are available on the NYSED website at http://www.nysed.gov.

Board member Matthew Nelson asked that there be some sort of informational meeting to inform parents and board members about the state testing in the fall.

The other big issue for the board this fall involves plans for mental health clinics for students in the middle school and high school buildings. Ms. Guntlow, who was presenting to the board about programs for students’ health and wellbeing, said, “We are at the really preliminary stages,” of looking into some space for students to go who are seeking help with mental illness. She said it’s been very helpful to look at other districts that already have clinics in their schools.

Ms. Farley told the board the he saw a “dramatic need for more mental health providers,” in the district.

Board member John Antalek asked that administrators present a plan to the board. He said the board’s job is to look at ways to find the space and funds in the budget.

High School Principal Craig Shull said that they would have a plan to present the board in September.

The next board meeting will be the organization meeting on Tuesday, July 11 at 7 p.m. in the high school library.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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