ICC board readies budget, mulls options in Vanyo case

KINDERHOOK–At the April 16 special meeting, the Ichabod Crane Board of Education adopted a $41,597,201 schools budget for 2019-20 to be put before voters for final approval next month. The budget will be proposition 1 on the ballot, with proposition 2 asking voters to approve spending $476,020 for five school buses. There are also three open board seats on the May 21 ballot and eight candidates.

Also at the meeting, the board met with the school district’s attorneys from the law firm Girvin & Ferlazzo, PC. Jay Girvin answered board members’ questions about issues the board is dealing with regarding Superintendent Michael Vanyo, who is currently on unpaid leave from the district.

Mr. Vanyo was arrested in Saratoga County April 6 and charged with DWI, operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or greater, leaving the scene of a property damage accident, and an improper right turn. He was in the district on the Monday after his arrest and at work, but on Tuesday, April 9, the board passed a motion approving a request from Mr. Vanyo to be put on unpaid leave and designating Assistant Superintendent Suzanne Guntlow to take over as acting superintendent.

Mr. Girvin said that due to Mr. Vanyo’s employment contract he would have full due process rights. He said that if the board moved forward with a hearing on whether or not to dissolve that contract the board would have to show just cause and Mr. Vanyo would have to be presented with the charges in writing. In that case an arbitrator would preside over the hearing and make a final decision.

Mr. Girvin also pointed out that an employee going through a hearing is normally suspended with pay. He added that the time frame for the arbitration process “optimistically is three months, probably much longer than that.”

An arbitrator and a stenographer for the hearing would have to be paid, with the arbitrator paid for both the hearing and for work outside the hearing on the case. Mr. Girvin said that if the proceedings last 6 days the board is looking at 12 to 18 days of the arbitrator’s time.

Arbitration hearings are closed to the public.

After the hearing the arbitrator would decide whether or not to dissolve the superintendent’s contract.

Board member Tammy Crawford asked whether the board would have a choice to accept or reject the decision and was told that decisions by the arbitrator are binding.

When board member Susan Ramos asked who does the investigation into the employee, Mr. Girvin said they would talk about that in a closed door session. The board went into an executive session at the end of the meeting, saying there was no plan to do any business after the private session.

According to the Times Union, Mr. Vanyo plead not guilty to the charges at the Town of Walton court on Tuesday, April 23. The paper reported that he is due back in court on Monday to address the status of his diver’s license.

As for the school budget, the 2019-20 proposed spending plan includes replacing all but two of the nine teachers retiring this year. The district will not replace a French teacher and a special education teacher. The budget also includes a distance learning program, lunch room monitors in the middle and primary schools, technology upgrades, repairs to physical education equipment and new cafeteria tables for the primary school. It comes with a 2.7% tax levy increase, which is within the state mandated tax cap.

The board seats on the ballot are now held by board President Matthew Nelson, Vice President Anthony Welcome and board member Jeffrey Ouellette.

According to a press release from the district clerk sent on Tuesday, the following people returned petitions to run for the Board of Education: James Antalek, Anne Marie Bertram, Brendan Caluneo, John Chandler, Mr. Nelson, Mr. Ouellette, Elizabeth Phillips and Mr. Welcome. Elected candidates will serve three-year terms beginning July 1 and continuing through June 30, 2022.

Candidate biographies or statements which will be posted on the district website www.ichabodcrane.org. There will be a meet the candidates forum May 7 at 6 p.m. followed by a public hearing on the budget at 7 p.m. in the high school library.

Also at the April 16 meeting the board approved the $6,467,395 Questar III/BOCES payment and voted for Edmund Brooks of Valatie, Lynn Clum of Germantown, Nadine Gazzola of Hudson, Mary Marro-Giroux of Troy and Mary Yurista of Castleton to sit on the Questar III Board.

The next Ichabod Crane Central School District school board meeting will be the budget public hearing May 7.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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