The Board is making the transition to paperless meetings via an online system called "BoardDocs." Over the course of the coming meetings, the district will also provide information about how the public can access Board information through the system. Board members participated in a BoardDocs training prior to the meeting.
Board members have attended recent PTO meetings, the Schenectady JCC Gala, sports banquets, strategic planning meetings, the Division I signing ceremony and the Audit Committee meeting. Board member reports also included the following:
U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko visited Niskayuna High School on Tuesday, talking with students about his experiences and answering questions on a variety of issues. It was exciting and informative.
The Board approved the appointment of Lynne Rutnik as the district's special education director, and abolished her previous position of special education administrator. Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra, Jr. said the change is designed to solidify and strengthen the administrative reorganization implemented last year and its strong focus on instruction. The Special Education director position brings needed clarity to the role of leading the department, and aligns with the other K-12 director positions.
This was the first in a series of program presentations that are leading into the 2016-17 budget development process. The purpose of the presentations is to share information, answer questions, and highlight potential priorities well ahead of budget decision-making.
The elementary principals provided an overview of the program for students in grades K-5, including a typical day, ongoing curriculum changes, and a variety of student support and service areas. They said the initiative that began this year to develop a Niskayuna curriculum is exciting. The district is closely monitoring changing learning standards in Science and Social Studies. Increased counselor and social worker staffing has been very helpful, and this remains an area where additional support would provide an opportunity to be even more proactive in meeting student needs. Other potential priority areas include introducing students to more technology and closely reviewing staffing needs associated with English as a New Language requirements, Response to Intervention (RTI) implementation, and adequate recess supervision. View the presentation
In light of recent world events, Dr. Tangorra said he wanted to begin a conversation in the district about school-sponsored trips, especially with student groups scheduled to travel to Italy and France later this year. A meeting with parents of students planning to go on those trips will be held this coming Monday evening. No decisions have been made: The conversation at the Board meeting touched on many areas, including balancing protecting students with the fact that we live in a world with risks and don't want them to be fearful. The district will also be looking more closely at the definition of "school-sponsored" trip. Administrators and Board members are very interested in the views of parents and faculty chaperones on this issue.
The Board of Education appointed Chad Shippee as the district's K-12 director of music education, following the comprehensive search and selection process. Shippee is currently the instrumental music director for the Bolton Landing Central School District in Warren County. The selection process included interviews with three committees comprised of Niskayuna music teachers, parents, students, principals, K-12 academic directors, central office administrators, and Board members. Shippee will begin in the district on January 4. At the meeting, he said he was very excited to join the Niskayuna team.
Earlier in the year, the Board approved a part-time, afterschool security monitor position for Niskayuna High School given the high level of activity there in the later afternoon and early evening. The position will be re-posted soon in the hopes of attracting high-quality candidates.
The Board is reviewing policies at each meeting as it transitions to a new policy manual. The following policies are under review, with action pending: