Board of Education Meeting Summary for April 11, 2017
Craig Students First -- The Power of Positivity
The Students First presentation featured Craig third grade students and
teachers sharing how they are using the power of positive psychology in
everyday class activities and fourth grade students sharing their biography
projects, which also focused on character traits such as perseverance,
creativity and hard work.
AP English 11 Research Presentation - Student Anxiety
AP English 11 students Greg George, MJ Lee, and Johanne Friedman
presented their academic research project: "The Prevalence of Academic
Stress in the Niskayuna Central School District and Possible Methods of
Addressing It."" Their presentation identified data about stress levels
based on a student survey, citied factors that contribute to student stress
and outlined possible solutions - including a cultural shift that would make
addressing mental health issues more prominent in our schools.
N-CAP Community Mental Health Needs Assessment
Niskayuna Community Action Program (N-CAP) Board Member Bob Winchester
discussed the Community Mental Health Needs Assessment that was released in
February. The assessment was conducted in response to a series of adult
suicides in the community. Mr. Winchester emphasized the impact that adult
mental health has on the entire community. He called for a community-wide
response that overcomes denial and brings more discussion and resources
related to positive mental health to the forefront.
Capital Project Update
As the district enters a period of capital improvements and continued
planning, Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra, Jr. and Bill McMordie, of Saratoga
Construction Management, shared with the Board a series of policies and
procedures that focus on communication, safety, planning and
decision-making. The Van Antwerp roof replacement and bus garage roof truss
repairs are on track for this summer as planned.
April 26 Student Focus Group Discussion
On the evening of April 26, a special meeting of the High School Student
Forum will be devoted to a focus group discussion with students about school
environment and culture and the Niskayuna educational experience. This is
being organized by the Instructional Program Advisory Council (IPAC) and the
Environment and Culture Advisory Committee (ECAC), in conjunction with
students, to inform the ongoing work of the two advisory groups.
Smart Schools Plan - Security Camera System
Edward Alston III provided information in response to public comment
received on the first phase of the district''s Smart Schools Investment
plan. In this initial phase, the district will be using the state Smart
Schools funding to replace its security camera system. Mr. Alston outlined
plans for ongoing service, the bandwidth and camera specifications, and the
vendor selection process. The Board approved the submission of the Smart
Schools plan to the state. The timeline calls for the camera system to be
replaced this coming fall.
Proposed Budget Adopted
The Board adopted an $81.4 million school budget proposal for the
2017-18 school year. The budget continues all current student programs,
supports many ongoing initiatives, and includes the overall addition of five
teaching positions across the three levels, primarily to help manage class
sizes. Total spending in the budget would increase by about $957,000, or 1.2
percent. The tax levy increase is 2.08 percent, which is the district's
limit based on the state tax cap calculation. The school budget vote is on
Tuesday, May 16. There will also be a bus purchase proposition and two seats
on the Board of Education on the ballot. Information will be shared with
staff and community members at forums in the weeks leading up to the vote.
Dr. Tangorra said that although the revenue was not available to restore all
of the positions that had been identified as priorities, he is pleased that
the district is able to make some modest budget additions. In addition to
ongoing work in the area of mental health, addressing student social and
emotional needs will be a top priority as the 2018-19 budget is developed.
Board Policy Review
As part of its transition to a new policy manual, the Board approved
Policy 7631 Appointment and Training of CSE Members and Policy 7632
Appointment and Training of CPSE Members. A first read of Draft
Policy 7620 Students with Disabilities Participating in District Programs
and Draft Policy 7670 Due Process Complaints was held.
Additional Meeting Highlights
Student representatives said that the "ambassador" program that is
bringing high school and middle school students together to talk about
issues such as bullying and diversity is expanding to both middle
The Patriot Flight group that presented the veterans assembly at
Niskayuna High School earlier this month formally recognized student
John Drazba for winning its essay contest.
The Consent Agenda was approved as presented.
Board members commended the students and staff involved in the
Unified athletics program, the NYSSMA events at Niskayuna High School
and the AP English 11 research presentations.
Next Meeting: The Board meeting on April 25 will be held at 8 a.m.
The purpose of this special meeting is to vote on the annual BOCES budget
and BOCES board members and to conduct routine Board business.