BOARD OF EDUCATION

MIDDLETOWN, NEW YORK

DECEMBER 17, 2003

 

A regular meeting of the Board of Education of the Enlarged City School District of Middletown, New York was held Wednesday, December 17, 2003, at the Board of Education Office, 223 Wisner Avenue, Board President Robin Markovits, presiding. 

Present: Dr. Best, Mr. Crescenzo, Mrs. Elliott, Mr. Estrada,
                Mr. McCormack, Mr. Perrino, Mrs. Botti, Mrs. Markovits  – 8.

Absent: Mrs. Knapp (arrived at 8:20 p.m.)– 1.

Others Present: Patricia McLeod, Acting Superintendent
                              Timothy Conway, Deputy Superintendent
                              Patricia Reilly, Acting Asst. Supt. for Curriculum & Instruction
                              Selena Fischer, Director for Pupil Personnel & Special Services
                              Ellen Kaplan, Director for Personnel Services
                              Thomas Scott, Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds
                              Peter Ancona, Director of Technology

Mrs. Markovits called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. Mrs. Botti made a motion, seconded by Mr. McCormack, to have an executive session for the discussion of legal matters pertaining to specific personnel issues. Motion was unanimously approved.

Public session resumed at 7:30 p.m.  Mrs. Markovits led the pledge to the flag.

Mrs. McLeod introduced Jonathan Jefferson who presented the High School Girls Varsity Tennis Team.  Mr. Jefferson said that the Team Scholar-Athlete Award is given by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association to teams that earn 90% or higher on the academic average as a team.  The Tennis Team has over a 95% average, which puts it in the running for a State banner.  Coach Anthony DelCoto said that most of the tennis team members are in Honors AP or New Visions programs, and noted that the team has a 12-4 record this year.

Mrs. Markovits congratulated Technology Director Peter Ancona and members of his staff who have been asked to present at the National Technology Convention in Arizona regarding the District’s new data warehouse technology.

Mrs. Markovits also congratulated Bill Ruggles who has been asked to present at the National Conference of the Academy of Finance.  Mrs. Markovits noted that Middletown has 100% job placement with our Academy of Finance students.

Mrs. McLeod announced that winter break begins December 22; school will re-open January 5.  She also noted that SAT exams have been re-scheduled to be held on December 20.

Mr. McCormack made a motion, seconded by Mr. Estrada, to approve the minutes of November 20, 2003.

Ayes:  Best, Crescenzo, Elliott, Estrada, McCormack, Perrino, Botti, Markovits – 8.  Noes:  None.  Motion was unanimously approved.                                                     

Mrs. Markovits introduced Michelle Baptiste, an affiliate with the firm of Rains and Pogrebin, who explained the Section 3020-a process, the legal procedure for disciplining tenured employees. 

The District Clerk read a letter from Sheila Esposito, President of the Middletown Teachers Association, which expressed pleasure of the passage of the referendum supporting the renovations to the High School.  The letter also said the timing of the personnel action recently taken caused considerable alarm and concern.

Response to Previous Questions:

Mrs. McLeod said that she has contacted the State Education Department Office of Programming and School Improvement regarding the status of district leadership teams (DLT).  SED has indicated that there is no need for school districts to continue district leadership teams as long as parental participation is available at the building level.

Mrs. McLeod said that the administrative regulations concerning volunteers in our schools have been developed and were shared with the administrative staff at their monthly meeting.  Mrs. McLeod said that the policy and regulations will be shared with the PTO/A Council.

Mrs. McLeod reported that she has spoken with Sgt. Willard and the parents who expressed concerns regarding the ROTC program.  She said that the students involved are in the program and are on their academic tracks for graduation.

Opportunity to Address the Board:

Marty Harnick noted that the both the boys and girls cross-country teams and the girls swim team have also received scholar athlete awards.  He congratulated the Board on the successful referendum, but also expressed his concerns given the events of the last several months. 

Yvonne Simmons asked that Mr. Cohen be re-instated as principal of the High School.  Mrs. Markovits clarified that Mr. Cohen is still an employee of the School District and that it is not within the Board’s authority to decide his innocence or guilt.

Chris Van Vlack and Roy Paul spoke in support of Mr. Cohen.

Fred Isseks addressed voter apprehension, and urged the Board to say something publicly concerning the investigation of Mr. Cohen. 

Mrs. Markovits said that Board must work within the restrictions imposed by law.  Ms. Baptiste said that the District cannot discuss the allegations because the law protects the employee.  The District may only discuss the allegations when and if the employee informs the District through his attorney that is permissible to do so.  Ms. Baptiste said that the investigation started because of allegations concerning misconduct at the High School, not a specific employee.

Board Member Reports:

Mr. Perrino congratulated Fred Isseks for his work on the Masada issue and for raising the political awareness of our students.  Mr. Perrino also noted the following: the good attendance at the fundraising dinner sponsored by the Key Club; the 480 students on the honor roll who participated in the Renaissance breakfast; the progress of the Mechanicstown renovation project.  He concluded by thanking the staff of Buildings and Grounds for maintaining the cleanliness of our buildings and the staff of Channel 20 for their work on the naturalization program.

Mr. Crescenzo spoke about the success of the Key Club dinner and the Renaissance breakfast, saying that more than $1,000 in prizes were given out at the breakfast.  He said the production of Santa Claus – the Musical was outstanding.  Mr. Crescenzo also attended the New York State School Boards Association workshop entitled “Student Rights and Discipline.”

Mrs. Knapp arrived at 8:20 p.m.

Dr. Best noted the diversity of the students who achieved honor roll distinction.

Mrs. Knapp said that the Key Club raised approximately $1100 through its recent dinner.  Proceeds will benefit a pediatric trauma center.

Mr. Estrada said he also attended a performance of Santa Claus – the Musical, and thanked the many people who worked so hard to make such a successful production.  Mr. Estrada said that the girls and boys basketball teams will be hosting some New York City teams over the next two weeks.

Mrs. Markovits attended a workshop at the Teacher Center on peer review training.  She noted the professionalism and level of instruction of this workshop.

Mr. McCormack made a motion, seconded by Dr. Best, to approve Personnel Memorandum #10, copy attached.

Ayes:  Best, Crescenzo, Elliott, Estrada, Knapp, McCormack, Perrino, Botti, Markovits – 9.  Noes:  None.  Motion was unanimously approved. 

Mrs. Botti made a motion, seconded by Mr. McCormack, to amend the agenda to consider a resolution pertaining to a personnel matter.

Ayes:  Best, Crescenzo, Elliott, Estrada, Knapp, McCormack, Perrino, Botti, Markovits – 9.  Noes:  None.  Motion was unanimously approved.                 

Mrs. Botti made a motion, seconded by Mrs. Elliott, as follows:

Resolved, the services of a probationary administrator are hereby terminated effective January 23, 2004.

Ayes:  Best, Crescenzo, Elliott, Estrada, Knapp, McCormack, Perrino, Botti, Markovits – 9.  Noes:  None.  Motion was unanimously approved.

Mr. Crescenzo made a motion, seconded by Mr. Estrada, to request personnel folders for the purpose of conducting personnel business in executive session.

Ayes:  Crescenzo, Estrada – 2.  Noes:  Best, Elliott, Knapp, McCormack, Perrino, Botti, Markovits – 7.  Motion was defeated

Mrs. McLeod introduced George Vanderzell, Interim High School Principal, and Patricia Simmons, Interim Assistant Principal at the High School.

Mrs. McLeod reviewed the information provided by Mrs. Case concerning the budget for 2004-2005.  Based on the latest data available and taking current contracts and debt service obligations into consideration, the increase over last year’s budget will be approximately 5% in order to maintain status quo.  Less than a 5% increase will probably necessitate staff reductions.  The Board agreed to maintain at least the status quo.  Mr. Perrino recommended that the District look at existing programs to determine if funds can be reallocated to other or new programs.  Mrs. Markovits said that Mrs. McLeod will begin program evaluation in January.  Mrs. Elliott requested some budget historical data and further explanation of re-financing and debt consolidation. 

The Board agreed to continue the established budget process.  Mr. Conway said that it is important to remember the relationship between the budget increase and the tax levy, which is impacted by the State aid given in the Governor’s budget which is not presented until January.  Mrs. Markovits requested that information be presented on how the budget is impacted by State aid.

Mrs. McLeod addressed the Professional Development/Goals for Administrative Summary that have been sent to the Board.

Mr. Conway said that at Mechanicstown School there are four areas of oversight:  the construction manager, the District’s architect; School District representatives, and independent certified laboratory representatives who are conducting testing on all building materials.  Mr. Scott presented portions of the executive summary of the Mechanicstown project, which includes copies of project pictures, bid summary, daily reports, and job meeting agenda.

Mr. Conway reported that the architect will be meeting with staff at the High School to go over the details of the construction so that the project will reflect the needs of the staff and students in the building.  Once the details have been formalized, the architect will go into the construction document phase.  When the documents are completed, they must be sent to the State Education Department for approval.  Upon receipt of SED approval, bids will be solicited.  Construction is anticipated to begin in the Spring of 2005, with completion by the Fall of 2007. 

Mr. Conway said that the architect will present a more thorough timeline at one of the Board’s January meetings.

Mrs. McLeod said that the January Board meeting dates are January 8 and January 22.

Mr. Estrada made a motion, seconded by Mr. McCormack, to approve  Special Services Memorandum #10, copy attached.

Ayes:  Best, Crescenzo, Elliott, Estrada, Knapp, McCormack, Perrino, Botti, Markovits – 9.  Noes:  None.  Motion was unanimously approved.                       

Mrs. Fischer said that a Board member will review Special Education CSE and CPSE recommendations prior to each Board meeting.  She noted that the recommendations of the committees cannot be changed.

Mr. Estrada made a motion, seconded by Mrs. Knapp, to approve Financial Memorandum #10, copy attached.

Ayes:  Best, Crescenzo, Elliott, Estrada, Knapp, McCormack, Perrino, Botti, Markovits – 9.  Noes:  None.  Motion was unanimously approved. 

Mr. McCormack made a motion, seconded by Dr. Best, to approve the adoption of the K-5 Science textbook series as presented at the last meeting of the Board.

Ayes:  Best, Crescenzo, Elliott, Estrada, Knapp, McCormack, Perrino, Botti, Markovits – 9.  Noes:  None.  Motion was unanimously approved.                 

Mr. McCormack made a motion, seconded by Mrs. Elliott, to approve the 55/64 Low Pass Option.

Ayes:  Best, Crescenzo, Elliott, Estrada, Knapp, McCormack, Perrino, Botti, Markovits – 9.  Noes:  None.  Motion was unanimously approved.                 

Mr. McCormack made a motion, seconded by Mrs. Botti, to accept the December 16, 2003 vote results as presented on the attached.

Ayes:  Best, Crescenzo, Elliott, Estrada, Knapp, McCormack, Perrino, Botti, Markovits – 9.  Noes:  None.  Motion was unanimously approved.                

Mr. McCormack thanked the community for their support of the bond referendum.  He asked to be provided with voter turnout information from other referendums.

Mrs. Botti made a motion, seconded by Dr. Best, to adopt the attached policy entitled Staff Substance Abuse.

Ayes:  Best, Crescenzo, Estrada, Knapp, McCormack, Perrino, Botti, Markovits – 8.  Noes:  Elliott - 1.  Motion was declared approved.                       

Mrs. Elliott said she had concerns about the phrase “reasonable individualized suspicion.”

Mrs. Botti made a motion, seconded by Mr. McCormack, to adopt the attached policy entitled Comprehensive Alcohol/Chemical Substance Policy.

Ayes:  Best, Crescenzo, Elliott, Estrada, Knapp, McCormack, Perrino, Botti, Markovits – 9.  Noes:  None.  Motion was unanimously approved.     

Visitors:

Lee Babcock, teacher on special assignment, thanked the Board for their support of the K-5 Science textbook. 

Roundtable:

Mr. McCormack thanked Mrs. Botti and Mr. Crescenzo for their work on the policies that have been presented to the Board for consideration; noted that many school districts across the country are mandating training for school board members; suggested that the Marching Middies go to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.  Mr. McCormack noted that our local newspaper, the Times Herald Record, devoted very little space to publicizing our bond referendum. 

Mr. Crescenzo suggested that Board members be provided with District identification badges.  He also said that he had written a rebuttal to an article printed in October in the Times Herald Record; this rebuttal was never printed.  He said that the Record needs to either give this district fair representation, unbiased, whole truths, or give the District the opportunity to state its point of view.

Mr. Estrada acknowledged Coach Anthony DelCotto’s years of service to the District.  He said that in the past the Marching Middies have taken part in Thanksgiving Parade.  He concluded by thanking the community, the MTA and our PTA/O’s for the support of the bond referendum.

Mrs. Botti said that Erie BOCES will be presenting information on their policy service at the Board’s January 8 meeting.  She also encouraged people to view the District’s new website, saying that it is constantly being updated with new information. 

Responding to a question from Mrs. Botti, Mrs. McLeod said that payment for presenting at conferences varies depending on the conference, the sponsors, etc. 

Mrs. Elliott addressed mandated training for school board members.  She said mandates typically involve money.  She also said that the community is aware that the School District does not get a fair shake from the Times Herald Record. 

Dr. Best thanked the voters for their support of the bond referendum and the people who worked so hard for the field lighting project.

Mr. Perrino noted that the Times Herald Record provided no coverage of the field lighting project.  He thanked the Buildings and Grounds crew for their hard work during snow storms, and the Food Services staff for providing nutritious meals for our students and for maintaining very clean kitchens.  Mr. Perrino also acknowledged all those who work toward publicizing our Board meetings.  Mr. Perrino said that the funding received from Masada is not sufficient; he asked what mechanism is in place in the District to watch out for our interests in these kinds of projects.

Mrs. Markovits spoke about two articles that were given to her by Marty Harnick.  One concerned a program that supplies computers to low income students and the other was an article about the communities in schools program.  She said that these are programs that will be referred to the community coordinator position.

Mrs. Markovits concluded by again thanking the voters for their support of the bond referendum and our educational institution.

At 10:15 p.m., Dr. Best made a motion, seconded by Mrs. Botti, to have an executive session for the discussion of specific personnel matters.

Motion was unanimously approved.  Public session resumed at 11:00 p.m.  There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at this time.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Alicia E. Olsen

School District Clerk