BOARD OF EDUCATION

MIDDLETOWN, NEW YORK

JULY 21, 2005


A regular meeting of the Board of Education of the Enlarged City School District of Middletown, New York was held Thursday, July 21, 2005, at the Board of Education Office, 223 Wisner Avenue, Board President Vincent Crescenzo, presiding.

Present: Dr. Best, Mr. Estrada, Mr. Geiger, Mrs. Knapp, Ms. Perkins, Mr. Perrino, Ms. Tobiassen, Mrs. Botti, Mr. Crescenzo – 9.

Absent: None.

Others Present: Kenneth Eastwood, Superintendent
Elizabeth McKean, School Business Administrator
Ellen Kaplan, Director for Personnel Services
Thomas Scott, Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds

Mr. Crescenzo called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m. Mr. Perrino made a motion, seconded by Mrs. Botti, to have an executive session to discuss matters pertaining to the appointment or employment of particular persons. Motion was unanimously approved.

Public session resumed at 7:46. Mr. Crescenzo led the pledge to the flag.

Mr. Perrino made a motion, seconded by Dr. Best, to approve the minutes of June 16, 2005.

Ayes: Best, Estrada, Geiger, Knapp, Perkins, Perrino, Tobiassen, Botti, Crescenzo – 9. Noes: None. Motion was unanimously approved.

Recognitions:
Mr. Crescenzo said that each year at graduation the Martin A. Dlugatz award is presented to an individual or a group for their volunteer efforts on behalf of the School District. Because of their hard work, enthusiasm, and support of our students and staff, the District honored the PTO presidents from each of our schools: Nancy Gonzalez, Bernard Brunning, Robyn Grant, Bill Galvin, Mindy Choros, Patti Turken, Yvette Limerick.

Written Communications:
Mr. Crescenzo said that he had received a letter from Susan Parrotta regarding child safety zones. He referred this letter to Mrs. McKean for follow-up.

Mr. Crescenzo read a letter from Sal Belfiglio, Class of 1955, which thanked the District for the outstanding Golden Grads reception.

Mr. Crescenzo also said that several communications have been written by our local legislators in support of the school resource officers for the District.

No responses to previous questions were required. No visitors asked to address the Board.

Mr. Daniel Lowengard, Superintendent of the Utica School District, said that a lawsuit has been filed which challenges New York State’s method for distributing education funds to local school districts. He said that the State Education Department has characterized many small city school districts as high need/low resource districts, with higher percentages of poor and minority students, children with special education needs, dropouts and children at risk. Small city school districts, however, have received increases in state aid for education which are significantly less than the State average increase. A review of the educational resources provided to children in small city school districts shows that these resources are grossly inadequate to the task of providing all children with a meaningful opportunity to succeed in school. Mr. Lowengard said that the State also has failed to recognize regional costs and the impact of poverty in providing adequate resources.

Mr. Lowengard continued by presenting some of the statistical data: Orange County school districts tax levy per pupil, spending per pupil sorted by wealth, and State aid per pupil sorted by wealth. He noted that Middletown’s wealth is going down while student enrollment is going up, and said that the State aid formula has not adjusted for these changes. He also said that the State has increased its standards to make school more challenging for our students; the resources to fund these increased standards must now come from the community.

Mr. Lowengard said that the lawsuit was originally filed on behalf of 26 city school districts who also contribute toward the legal costs. The suit will ask the New York State Supreme Court to declare the current funding system to be in violation of the New York State Constitution, which requires the State Legislature to maintain a system wherein all children may be educated. The Board unanimously agreed to join the lawsuit and will formally vote on a resolution at its next meeting.

Board Member Reports:
Mr. Estrada thanked the intern who has been working with the Town of Wallkill Planning Board for sending the Board information concerning proposed subdivisions in the Town of Wallkill. He noted that there are 486 new housing units proposed for that portion of the Town of Wallkill within the Middletown School District.

Ms. Perkins thanked Mr. Perrino for sharing the Twin Towers Literary Magazine.

Mr. Geiger was absent during the following.

Mr. Perrino addressed a recent article in The Times Herald Record concerning a forum that was held regarding the Freedom of Information Law. He noted that two representative from the District – Alicia Olsen, District Clerk and FOIL Officer, and Patricia Popstein, Records Management Clerk – attended as representatives from the School District.

Mr. Perrino also visited our summer school program and congratulated the students for taking charge of their lives. He noted that 605 students are attending the High School summer program. Mr. Perrino also said that students are provided with a free breakfast and lunch.

Responding to a question from Ms. Tobiassen, Mr. Crescenzo said that he has contacted Sheila Esposito, president of the MTA, to set some new meeting dates.

Dr. Best complimented all those involved with making graduation and the Golden Grads program successful.

Mr. Estrada thanked the Middletown Recreation Department for sponsoring the summer sports camp. He said that over 300 children participate in this program.

Responding to a question from Mr. Estrada, Dr. Eastwood said that the final attendance numbers for the summer school program will be reported in September. Dr. Eastwood said that this year’s elementary program targeted at risk students.

Mrs. Botti noted that each year the Board asks our general counsel to make a presentation on the Open Meetings Law and Reporting Child Abuse in an Educational Setting. This presentation was made at the Board’s Reorganization Meeting held July 7. Mrs. Botti also complimented the most recent District Newsletter, noting that it included the honors and accomplishments of our graduating seniors.

Ms. Perkins spoke about the low attendance rate in our summer school program. Dr. Eastwood said that summer school should be a requirement for at-risk students. The District is providing intervention opportunities for students who need these services. However, some parents choose not to have their children participate in summer school. Dr. Eastwood said the District should be held harmless relative to the educational programming of children who do not take advantage of summer school services when they do not meet State requirements. Dr. Eastwood said that he believes that all students can meet State standards, but not with equal effort. He suggested that the Board consider a 12 month calendar which will mandate attendance for students who are at risk of failing or not meeting State standards.

Mr. Geiger returned at this time.

Dr. Eastwood also said that the District will be providing longitudinal reporting on student growth. He said that allocations will be built into some of our federal grants to provide funding for a person to do quality control on student information and testing data. The District needs to watch our students to ensure that they are maximizing their time in our programs. Mr. Estrada said that the Board has an obligation to the community to be removed from the list of districts in need of improvement. However, when students do not take advantage of the programs offered, it will be difficult to lose this designation. Dr. Eastwood said that parents need to understand how significant intervention services are, and if they refuse to have their children participate, they should be required to sign a statement that they will not hold the District responsible for educational malfeasance.

Mr. Perrino said that there are some students who want to have the reinforcement of summer school services, but cannot because they are not identified as at-risk. Dr. Eastwood said that this will cost sufficient District monies. He noted that generally Federal dollars are used for Level 1 students and District funds or AIS monies are for Level 2 students. Dr. Eastwood said the District can run a summer academy program with Federal funds, and if the program is not filled, more children can be invited based on their at-risk status.

Mr. Crescenzo noted that Al Muhlnickel, the District’s Food Service Director, will be leaving the District to pursue other opportunities. He said that Mr. Muhlnickel was a true child advocate who will be sorely missed.

Mr. Crescenzo also reviewed a correspondence from Dr. Robert Hanna, monitor for the School District, to Commissioner Mills. Dr. Hanna indicated that he and Dr. Eastwood communicate on a regular basis on numerous issues and said that Dr. Eastwood, the Board of Education and staff have gone to great lengths to gain the trust of the community subsequent to the Robert Sigler matter. Discussions of a mentoring program and district staff training schedule will be held later this month.

Mrs. Botti made a motion, seconded by Mr. Estrada, to approve Personnel Memorandum #5, copy attached.

Ayes: Best, Estrada, Geiger, Knapp, Perkins, Perrino, Tobiassen, Botti, Crescenzo – 9. Noes: None. Motion was unanimously approved.

Mr. Estrada made a motion, seconded by Mr. Perrino, to approve Personnel Memorandum #6, copy attached.

Ayes: Best, Estrada, Geiger, Knapp, Perkins, Perrino, Tobiassen, Botti, Crescenzo – 9. Noes: None. Motion was unanimously approved.

Mrs. Botti was absent during this portion of the meeting.

Mr. Estrada made a motion, seconded by Mr. Perrino, to amend the agenda to consider additional personnel items.

Ayes: Best, Estrada, Geiger, Knapp, Perkins, Perrino, Tobiassen, Crescenzo – 8. Noes: None. Motion was unanimously approved.

Mr. Geiger made a motion, seconded by Dr. Best, to approve the department chair appointments as presented at the June 16, 2005, meeting of the Board.

Ayes: Best, Estrada, Geiger, Knapp, Perkins, Perrino, Tobiassen, Crescenzo – 8. Noes: None. Motion was unanimously approved.

Mr. Estrada made a motion, seconded by Dr. Best, requesting personnel folders for the purpose of conducting personnel business in executive session.

Ayes: Best, Estrada, Geiger, Knapp, Perkins, Perrino, Tobiassen, Crescenzo – 8. Noes: None. Motion was unanimously approved.

Mrs. Botti returned to the meeting at this time.

Mrs. McKean spoke about the possibility of using a lock box collection procedure for collecting taxes. She said that this method of collecting taxes helps to reduce the need for District labor. Tax payments are sent to a processing center with a specific post office box that has been assigned to the School District. The bank picks up the mail, processes the payments and deposits the money directly into the District’s bank accounts on a daily basis. The bank then creates a file that is uploaded into the District tax payment software. Mrs. McKean said that the goal with using this service is to decrease personnel time spent opening mail, checking bills and checks, writing deposits and entering data into District software.

Mrs. McKean said that the Legislature and the Senate have recently passed, and the Governor has approved, the Comptroller’s 5 Point Plan. The purpose of this legislation is to help boards of education in the fiscal oversight of their districts. The five points include: training for school board members taking office after July 1, 2005, focusing on financial oversight, accountability and fiduciary responsibilities; establishment of an audit committee to provide recommendations on the appointment of the internal and external auditor, review the draft audit, oversee the internal audit function, provide recommendation regarding acceptance of the external audit, and review implementation of correction action plans; use of an RFP process every five years to select an auditor who must provide draft audit reports and a final report to the Board of Education; appointment of a claims auditor using inter-municipal or shared services agreements; establish an internal audit function by July 1, 2006. Mrs. McKean also said that the Comptroller’s Office will develop and implement an audit rotation schedule whereby every school district will be audited once in the next five years by the Comptroller’s Office.

Superintendent Budget Transfer #2 was presented for one transfer for the 2004-2005 school year and one transfer for the 2005-2006 school year.

Responding to an inquiry from Mr. Perrino, Dr. Eastwood said that the Board had agreed not to allocate funds for school resource officers at the middle schools at this time. The Board had also agreed to wait until fall to determine the impact student growth will have on the District. At that time it will be determined if there are additional revenues to fund a third SRO. If the revenues are not available, the funding for a third SRO will be included in the spring budget discussions. Mrs. McKean explained that there is no contingency fund available and that reserve funds have been designated for specific purposes. Mr. Perrino requested incident reports for each of our middle schools. Dr. Eastwood said that the police departments will be providing information concerning their calls to each school.

The Board agreed that SRO’s should be placed at both middle schools, as well as the High School. However, budget constraints do not allow for placement of SRO’s in both middle schools at this time. Dr. Eastwood reminded the Board that the 2005-2006 budget is lean and funds for additional SRO’s would have to be taken from monies allocated for other purposes. Dr. Eastwood will search for additional revenue sources and report his findings to the Board in September.

Mr. Geiger suggested that the decision not to release funds to provide for an SRO at Twin Towers be reconsidered now that the full Board is present. He indicated that he would like to call the question and re-cast the vote. Mrs. Botti said that this would be against parliamentary procedures at this time, but perhaps the Board will want to put the item on a future agenda for discussion pending further information from the Superintendent.

Mrs. Botti made a motion, seconded by Mrs. Knapp, to designate an official newspaper for the school district.

Mr. Crescenzo said that the Office of Counsel of the NYS Comptroller has opined that to be designated an official newspaper, a publication must (1) be in general circulation; (2) be established and ordinarily printed and distributed not less than on a weekly basis for at least one year; (3) contain news, editorials and other matters of “current interests;” (4) have a paid circulation; and (5) be entered as second class mail matter. Mr. Crescenzo said that while there is no statute mandating the designation of an official newspaper, school districts are obligated to publish facts required by law in a newspaper designated for such purpose provided that such newspaper meets the criteria of an official newspaper.

Discussion followed regarding the newspapers that meet the criteria to be designated an official newspaper, and the purpose for such designation. It was noted that even without designating a newspaper as the official paper, legal notices can continue to be placed. It was also noted that the community needs to know where our legal notices will be placed.

Vote on the motion to designate an official newspaper was taken.

Ayes: Geiger, Knapp, Perkins, Perrino, Tobiassen, Botti, Crescenzo – 7. Noes: Best, Estrada – 2. Motion was declared approved.

Mr. Perrino made a motion, seconded by Mrs. Botti, to designate the Times Herald Record as the official newspaper for the Middletown School District.

Mr. Estrada offered the name of an additional publication that the District may wish to consider.

Ms. Tobiassen made a motion, seconded by Dr. Best, to postpone action on the vote to designate the official newspaper until the August 4, 2005, Board meeting, pending further information.

Ayes: Best, Estrada, Geiger, Knapp, Perkins, Perrino, Tobiassen, Botti, Crescenzo – 9. Noes: None. Motion was unanimously approved.

Mr. Perrino made a motion, seconded by Mr. Geiger to accept Alternate 9B – Electrical Contract – MHS Project – Harry Rotolo & Son, $6,750.00.

Mr. Scott said that Alternate 9B includes electrical work required for removal of the existing bleachers and the installation of new bleachers.

Ayes: Best, Estrada, Geiger, Knapp, Perkins, Perrino, Tobiassen, Botti, Crescenzo – 9. Noes: None. Motion was unanimously approved.

Mrs. Botti made a motion, seconded by Mrs. Knapp to approve an agreement with New Beginnings Montessori School for universal prekindergarten services.

Dr. Eastwood said in the past the District has had a targeted pre-K program, held within our facilities with our staff. The agreement with New Beginnings will take advantage of universal pre-k money and the services will be provided by a third party agency. Universal pre-k funds will also be used for the District to provide supervision and consultation to the third party agency to ensure that the program is conforming to our educational requirements as a school district.

Discussion followed regarding the qualifications to attend both the targeted and the universal pre-k programs, philosophical concerns with using State funds for programs outside of the District, the ability to expand pre-k opportunities, and parity of programs.

Mr. Perrino made a motion, seconded by Mr. Geiger, to call the question.

Vote on the motion to approve the agreement with the New Beginnings Montessori School was taken.

Ayes: Best, Estrada, Geiger, Knapp, Perrino, Tobiassen, Botti, Crescenzo – 8. Noes: Perkins – 1. Motion was declared approved.

Mr. Estrada made a motion, seconded by Ms. Tobiassen, to approve Special Services Memorandum #2, copy attached.

Ayes: Best, Estrada, Geiger, Knapp, Perkins, Perrino, Tobiassen, Botti, Crescenzo – 9. Noes: None. Motion was unanimously approved.

Ms. Tobiassen made a motion, seconded by Mr. Perrino, to approve Financial Memorandum #3, copy attached.

Ayes: Best, Estrada, Geiger, Knapp, Perkins, Perrino, Tobiassen, Botti, Crescenzo – 9. Noes: None. Motion was unanimously approved.

No visitors asked to address the Board.

Roundtable:
Mrs. Botti said that the Board norms will be reviewed at the Board retreat.

It was noted that the High School summer graduation ceremony will be held at Monhagen Middle School on August 18.

Responding to a question from Ms. Tobiassen, Dr. Eastwood said that positions for summer employment are posted.

Noting tonight’s attendance of a full Board, Mr. Geiger suggested that the Board revisit the decision that was made at the July 7 meeting not to release funds for a school resource officer at Twin Towers. He noted that the July 7 decision was not an official resolution, but a straw vote. Mrs. Botti said that Dr. Eastwood had recommended that the District wait until September to see if the growth money that has been reserved will be needed, and to give him time to research possible other funding sources. If there is not significant growth in our enrollment, these funds may be re-allocated so that each middle school will have an SRO. Mr. Crescenzo cautioned against setting a precedent of changing votes, and recommended that the Board wait for the additional information regarding possible funding sources.

Responding to a question from Mr. Geiger, Dr. Eastwood said that the District is looking at biology program offerings.

Ms. Perkins spoke about the agreement with the Montessori school. She said that although it is found money that will help disadvantaged children, the issue should be what strengthens the Middletown School District. She said that the agreement should be a pilot program for a specific purpose for this year rather than a precedent for an on-going program where taxpayer funds are going to a private program. Dr. Eastwood said that the agreement is for a one-year period and the District must also apply for the funds each year and go through an RFP process each year.

Mr. Estrada noted that it would be cost prohibitive to make Memorial handicapped accessible.

Dr. Eastwood updated the community on the status of his search for a home in the Middletown area that will fit his family’s requirements.

At 11:40 p.m., Dr. Best made a motion, seconded by Mrs. Knapp, to have an executive session for the discussion of personnel issues regarding the employment of specific personnel. Motion was unanimously approved.

Public session resumed at 11:56 p.m. There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at this time.


Respectfully submitted,
Alicia E. Olsen
School District Clerk


ENLARGED CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT

OF MIDDLETOWN, NEW YORK

PUPIL PERSONNEL/SPECIAL SERVICES

MEMORANDUM #2


TO: Board of Education
FROM: Selena Fischer, Director for Pupil Personnel & Special Services
DATE: July 21, 2005
RE: Committee on Special Education/Committee on Preschool Special Education


Resolved, that the special programs and services required by the recommendations in the Pupil Personnel/Special Services Memorandum No. 2 dated July 21, 2005, shall be implemented by the Board of Education within the time period provided by law, and

Be it further resolved, that the proposed appointments set forth below to the CSE and CPSE are hereby confirmed.

1. COMMITTEE ON SPECIAL EDUCATION RECOMMENDATIONS REACHED AT THE FOLLOWING MEETING(S):

May 11, 17, 18, 19, 25, 31, June 1, 2, 7, 9, 15, 16, July 6, 2005

2. COMMITTEE ON PRESCHOOL RECOMMENDATIONS REACHED AT THE FOLLOWING MEETING(S):

July 12, 2005

3. APPOINTMENTS TO COMMITTEE ON SPECIAL EDUCATION:
MEMBER NAME POSITION EFFECTIVE

4. APPOINTMENTS TO COMMITTEE ON PRESCHOOL SPECIAL EDUCATION:
MEMBER NAME POSITION EFFECTIVE

5. APPOINTMENTS OF SURROGATE PARENTS:
MEMBER NAME POSITION EFFECTIVE

 

 

ENLARGED CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT

OF MIDDLETOWN, NEW YORK

FINANCIAL MEMORANDUM #3


TO: Board of Education
FROM: Elizabeth McKean
DATE: July 21, 2005
RE: Financial Memorandum #3


1. Revenue and Expense Reports Approved

Resolved, that the Middletown Board of Education accepts the following reports for the month of May 2005:

Treasurer’s Report
Expense Report

2. Energy Bids Awarded

Whereas, the Middletown City School District is participating, with other Rockland and Orange County school districts, in a cooperative bid for the purchase of electricity and natural gas sponsored by the Rockland County BOCES; and

Whereas, the bidding procedures comply in every respect with the requirements established by the general Municipal Law; and

Whereas, the electricity and natural gas markets are highly volatile and prompt action is required to secure the benefit of the lowest possible rates; and

Whereas, the delay in waiting for formal action by this Board may result in the loss of the bid prices;
Now, therefore, be it resolved that this Board hereby delegates to the Superintendent of Schools the authority to accept bids for electricity and natural gas submitted pursuant to the cooperative bid.