KINDERHOOK—The Ichabod Crane Board of Education held a public hearing June 2 on the $42-million proposed budget for the 2020-21 school year. The budget is within the state mandated tax cap and does not include any cuts to services or staff. This year’s ballot includes a bus purchasing proposal and there are five people running for three open board seats.
Voters were mailed ballots on May 26. This year all school districts in the state are voting absentee ballot so that there is no in-person voting due to the pandemic.
On June 7, Governor Cuomo announced that he will issue an Executive Order extending the deadline for school districts to receive school budget ballots. To be counted, school budget ballots can be accepted by hand delivery through 5 p.m. on June 9 but they can be received by mail through June 16 by the school district.
District Clerk Mindy Potts said at the board meeting last week that it was a team effort getting the ballots out. The district is posting information at www.ichabodcrane.org for voters on the absentee ballot process and confidentiality. Ms. Potts said she will be available in the Main Office for people who want to drop off their ballots. She is at the office from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, and can be contacted at and phone 518 758-7575, ext. 3001.
The board held the public hearing and their regular meeting using Zoom. Over 70 people were on the video conference call. Only three people asked questions about the budget. One couple asked about funding for Covid-19 procedures that might be needed when school is open again in September. Superintendent Jason Thomson said that over the summer the district would be coming up with plans for the fall and that there are reserve funds that can be used if there are expenses due to the pandemic.
Another resident asked if the district had plans in the event that state funding is cut. Mr. Thomson said, “We don’t.”
But Board President Matthew Nelson pointed out that District Business Manager Micheal Brennan had discussed state funding a meeting in May and that there is information online.
At a meeting May 19, Mr. Brennan said there is a potential for cuts in state aid as the state set “measurement periods” to review the new state budget, looking at expenses and revenue. Those reviews may lead to cuts in state aid to school districts. The first measurement period has passed and the district has not heard any word on cuts to the $15 million in state aid that is part of the 2020-21 proposed budget.
At that meeting, Mr. Brennan said the district does have a plan if the aid is cut, saying the last resort would be to cut staff and programming. The district can use reserve funds and school district officials can look at reducing some equipment and supply costs.
At that same meeting in May, Superintendent Thomson announced that he was resigning from his position and would leave the district in July. He started as superintendent in February. The board did not discuss plans for a superintendent search or a transition in administration at the meeting June 2.
On June 4, the board released a statement on the district’s website saying they had met to discuss the next steps for filling the role of superintendent. The statement says, “We are considering all of our options, and at this time no final decisions have been reached. In response to an expression of interest received by the board from an interested internal candidate, we have again engaged the services of the Western New York Educational Service Council, the search consultants used for the last superintendent selection process, to aid us in an interview process for this candidate. That interview process is now underway and will take the time necessary to be completed thoroughly and with all due consideration, including input from district level stakeholders who will be engaged by the consultants in the coming days and weeks.”
After the public hearing on the budget, the board held the regular meeting at which board members discussed high school graduation plans, recognized staff members who had recently retired and granted several teachers tenure.
High School Principal Craig Shull announced that the school is working on plans to hold the high school graduation at the Jericho Drive-In in Glenmont.
Mr. Shull made this announcement before the governor said on June 7 that outdoor graduations of up to 150 people will be allowed beginning June 26. 131 students will be graduating from Ichabod this June.
Mr. Shull said he had met with students from the senior class who made it clear they wanted to do some kind of in-person ceremony. He said each student is allowed to bring two cars with guests to the ceremony. Students will walk across the stage at the drive-in, which will be projected on the screen. He said the ceremony will not start until 8:30 p.m. and that they will have limited speeches at the event. Mr. Shull did say they are working on individual websites for each student where they can live-stream the event.
Mr. Shull pointed out that the drive-in has a tent in case of bad weather. He did not mention the date of the event. Graduation was originally scheduled for Friday, June 26.
“Hats off to everybody involved in that,” President Nelson said of the planning.
The district has made plans to have other ceremonies for students in the middle school and primary school. And there will be a parade of cars on campus for students to say goodbye to their teachers.
The school district buildings have been closed since March due to the pandemic.
Also at the meeting:
• The board recognized the retirements of Tamara Rouse, Maria Wuchte, Tim O’Brien, Lori Jeanne Kruger, Tracey Gold, Terry Petroccione, Jo-Ellen Estabrook-Pollack, Laurie Wills, Priscilla Shaw, Harold Hutchiso, Lauralea Ingham and Leslie Sambrook. Administrators spoke about each person who retired—some left earlier in the year or last year, others will be retiring at the end of this year
• The board awarded tenure to: Christine Hamm, Special Education; Britney Firstiun, Special Education; Anna Kemp, English Language Learner; Nicole Canuteson, teaching assistant; Maxine Seaman, teaching assistant; Katherine Johnson, teaching assistant; Eugene Ringwood, teaching assistant; and Michelle Robillard, teaching assistant
• Abatement and other work has started on the middle and high school buildings as part of the major capital improvement project in the district. Work is expected to continue through 2022
•Board President Nelson pointed out that the district received a donation from Hewlett Packard Enterprises of four wireless access points for better access to wifi on the school campus. The board also accepted a donation of installation of the wireless access points from the company PNJ.
The next board meeting will be June 23 at 7 p.m.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email