Dec 20, 2013 Joe Genco Uncategorized
Two community members addressed the Skaneateles school board on Dec. 17 to express concerns about making students chose between music and science classes in the middle school.
The change, which the board heard a presentation on at its Dec. 2 meeting, would give eight grade students the opportunity to take Regents Earth Science, which is currently only offered in ninth grade. However, due to tight scheduling, some students would have to either give up a study hall or a second music class in order to take the class, because it requires an every-other-day lab period which must be contiguous with the regular class.
The presentation was made without anyone in the music department being talked to about the proposed change, said Amy Sander, vice president of the music boosters club.
“We are concerned that [the accelerated science option] introduction as proposed, especially in the wake of other recent cuts, will be at the expense of the existing music program. Our desire is that in your consideration of this proposal, the board of education and the administration involve the music department and other stakeholders in the analysis of the proposal’s costs versus benefits for all students and programs short and long-term,” Sander said.
Interim Superintendent of Schools Judy Pastel addressed the concerns during the superintendent’s report. Pastel acknowledged that it was an oversight to not discuss the proposed changes with the music department, however she stressed the importance of offering an accelerated science sequence, something that the majority of districts in the state already do.
The district can possibly use its activity period or after-school time to offer music opportunities to students, something it already does in addition to the in-school music classes, Pastel said.
“We’re investigating how we can creatively support the students and the staff,” she said. “We’re trying to support all of our students, and those who don’t take music, who want to have the opportunity to get five science courses.”
–The board confirmed the results of the Dec. 10 public vote on a capital project bond referendum.
Assistant Superintendent of Businesses and Finance Dale Bates counted 25 absentee ballots making the final results 463 votes for and 183 against.
The bond, totaling $2.8 million, will be used for five facility projects including roof replacements and masonry restoration for the high school/middle school building. Work is set to begin in the summer of 2014. The district estimates that the 15-year debt from the project will add about $20 to the tax bill of a house valued at $275,000, starting with the 2015-16 school year budget.
–The board voted to approve an expense of $11,890 for a communications audit through a program with BOCES. The firm that does that audit comes highly recommended from the Fayetteville-Manlius school district, who also uses its services, board member Margaret Usdansky Niebuhr said.
–The board approved the appointment of three new administrators to their new roles, as previously announced. Gary Gerst was appointed as middle school principal with an annual salary of $108,000 and Stephen Widrick was appointed as elementary principal (in charge of both Waterman and State Street schools) with an annual salary of $119,286. Pat Brown was also appointed to be elementary assistant principal and director of professional development, at his current salary of $83,001. The men will start their new roles as of Feb. 1, at which time John Harmon, the interim middle school principal, will retire.
–The board voted to approve five new strategies for the next three years. They are:
Board member Geralyn Huba said she would like the board to consider moving up the timeline for hiring a new superintendent of schools. The board had previously announced that the district will start looking for a new superintendent, again, in September of 2014. Huba suggested they revisit the search in spring 2014 and hire someone to start at the beginning of the next school year.
Board President Kathryn Carlson said they would revisit the idea at the board’s Jan. 7 work session.
Joe Genco is the editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at email@example.com.