Board of Education Meeting, 12.17.19

Schenevus Central School District Board of Education

Minutes for Regular Meeting of the Board of Education, Tuesday, December 17, 2019 6:30 p.m.

Board President, Kelly Gallagher, called the Board of Education meeting to order at 6:33 p.m.

Members present: Kelly Gallagher, Stacie Haynes, Liz Reed, Jay Deitchman

Members absent: NONE

Also present: Theresa Carlin, Superintendent, Nicole Couse, District Clerk, Greg Beall, District Treasurer, Peyton Darling, Senior Class Rep., Hugh Gallagher Jr., Senior Class Rep., Samantha Dixon, Senior Class Rep., Shana Ritton, SUT Co-President, Matt Gregory, Teacher, Erica Ylitalo, Teacher, Montana Kelman, Teacher, Tracy Odell, LTA, Stephanie Lincoln, Teachers Assistant, Paula Darling, Senior Class Co-advisor, Thomas Muscarella, Maintenance Employee, Jason Ritton, Community Member, Les Burton Community Member, Charity Burton, Community Member, Jason Knapp, Community Member, Bev Barnett, Community Member, Luke Spencer, Community Member, Bill Regg, Community Member, Debra Reed, Community Member, Gertie Burke, Community Member, Andy and Chris Odell, Community Member, Jim Odell, Community Member, David Lampron, Community Member, Joan Nason, Community Member, April Neske, Community Member, Joseph Trancho, Community Member, Tom Snyder, Community Member, Tabitha Terrano, Community Member, Christopher DiDonna, Community Member, Tina Brundege, Community Member, Jackie Gleason, Community Member, Kathi Fredette, Community Member, Steve Barton, Community Member, Frank Competiello, Community Member, Michele Competiello, Community Member, William Ellis, Community Member, James Barrett, Community Member, William Fisher, Community Member, Jennifer Fisher, Community Member, Marge French, Community Member

Approve Minutes

Upon recommendation of the Superintendent, RESOLVED that the Board of Education approved the November 12, 2019 and December 10, 2019 Board of Education Meeting Minutes.

Motion: Jay Deitchman; second, Stacie Haynes, vote 4-0

Reports

Montana Kelman presented a report on the combined production of the musical, “Beauty and the Beast”. This was a very successful group effort by students and staff of Schenevus C.S. and Worcester C.S. The student cast members were evenly balanced between the two schools. Auditions and practices were scheduled at both schools. The planning, cost sharing and sharing of resources saved money, time and stress as there were more staff and helpers to share the work involved for each production. Sharing costumes, props and talent, eliminated the need to borrow from other sources or to hire additional staff. Alexandria Lincoln, who played a lead role as Belle, reported that her experience was great and was a wonderful learning experience. She stated she would love to have the opportunity to do it again.

Representatives of the Senior Class, Payton Darling, Hugh Gallagher Jr., and Samantha Dixon, presented the Board with two options under consideration for this year’s senior trip. Option 1 is to travel to Cleveland, Ohio, and also visit Niagara Falls, and Darien Lake. The cost is $725 per person, for a total of $17,400. Option 2 is to travel to New York City and New Jersey. This trip includes visits to Liberty State Park, Ellis Island, the 9/11 Memorial and Six Flags. This would be a total of $16,200, saving $1,200. Since there is no fundraising scheduled at this time, members of the class will need to decide how to pay any additional costs since both options will use most, if not all, of their class funds. The Board has given their approval to the class for either of these options.

Treasurer, Greg Beall, reported that the State has just sent out the notice that we will be receiving $150,000 less in aid for this 19-20 school year. However, we are receiving a return of $130,000 from BOCES. Looking at the revenue, we currently have a positive $34,000 by the end of the 19-20. But, when looking at unexpended expenses, we are currently looking for placements for special education students at BOCES, Springbrook or Pathfinder Village. We have 2 students on the waitlist and currently one student at home. A full year program equals out to be $150,000. During a budget process usually you would cushion for unexpected expenses which we were not able to do.

Mr. Beall would like the Board to approve joining the NYLAF State Comptroller which is an investment company with a 102% no risk. We are also looking at cash flow and will need to take out a RAN of $800,000 to $1,000,000. In addition will need to write our letter to the State in April or May to receive the additional funds we were granted as a 30 year payback.

Superintendent, Theresa Carlin, presented a powerpoint to the Board on tuitioning out. This is a learning process to share with the community. She is unsure if we can sustain another year as a K-12 school without a 15-20% increase in taxes. Last year, the community made it clear that this is not the way to go. If a decision is made to tuition out our students for the 20-21 school year, it must be budgeted for and voted on by April 1st. She estimates a cost savings of $1,980,000 if the decision is made to tuition out our students.

According to the Seneca Falls Formula the maximum amount that Worcester can charge us per student would be $5,500 for 7-12 (156 students) estimated to be $858,000. This brings our total savings to $1,122,000. We will not need a high tax increase and the climate of the community and the school will no longer be negative. For a timeline, if a contract is agreed upon for 1 year, 364 days, there does not need to be a community vote. For a 2-5 year contract, a public vote is necessary and must be publicized 45 days prior to the vote which would then be scheduled sometime between March 1 and March 10, 2020.

Our staff would be placed on a preferred eligibility list for Worcester as they may see the need to hire additional teachers. If we do not tuition out, we will need to cut all non-mandated classes and extracurricular activities. As an example, this would mean no Kindergarten; no Pre-K; no college classes; no clubs and no sports. If the decision is made to tuition out, seniors will continue to receive a diploma from Schenevus CSD and will have a choice of two ceremonies, one at Schenevus or one at Worcester.

We are asking the Board to approve continued discussions with the Worcester Central School District regarding the tuitioning out of all 7-12 District students, effective with the 2020-21 school year.

Approve October 2019 Treasurer’s Reports

Upon recommendation of the Superintendent, RESOLVED that the Board of Education approved the October 2019 Treasurer’s Report.

Motion: Jay Deitchman; second, Liz Reed, vote 4-0

Review

The Board reviewed the Student Accounts for October 2019 and the Unpaid Tax Report, 2019.

Old Business

There was no old Business

New Business

Business Items:

On the recommendation of the superintendent, RESOLVED that the Board of Education approved the following:

  1. Special education program service recommendations from the Committee on Special Education.
  2. Application for Merger of School for Athletic Activity between Schenevus CSD and Worcester CSD for Varsity Track and Field for the 2019-2020 school year.
  3. Resolution of the Schenevus Board of Education, authorizing the execution and delivery of an amended and restated Municipal Cooperation Agreement and related documents by and among the several municipal corporations, school district, fire districts and/or boards of cooperative educational services to provide for the cooperative temporary investment of public funds.WHEREAS, the Participant, pursuant to the provisions of the General Municipal Law and its investment policy, after due investigation, evaluation and deliberation, has determined that it is in the best interest of the Participant to invest a portion of its public funds on a cooperative basis pursuant to the terms of a Municipal Cooperation Agreement dated as of April 29, 2016 (the “Agreement”) among the Red Hook Central School District, as Lead Agent, and various other municipal corporations, under the trade name “New York Liquid Asset Fund” (“NYLAF”);

    NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved by the Board of Education, located in Otsego County, State of New York, as follows:

    Section 1. The terms, conditions and provisions of the Agreement attached hereto are hereby approved. The Title of Chief Fiscal Officer (the “Chief Fiscal Officer”) of the Participant is hereby authorized to execute and deliver the Agreement, and the Chief Fiscal Officer is hereby authorized to affix the seal of the Participant thereto and attest such seal. The Chief Fiscal Officer is hereby authorized to from time to time effect and consent to such changes to the Agreement in the form attached hereto as may be necessary or convenient in order to further carry out the purposes of the Agreement or to clarify or correct the terms thereof. The Chief Fiscal Officer is hereby authorized to delegate the foregoing duties to his or her designees as authorized by the Law (as that term is defined in the Agreement), which designee is an authorized employee officer of the Participant. Upon the execution in full and delivery of the Agreement, the Participant shall become a Participant, as that term is defined in the Agreement.

    Section 2. Notwithstanding any term or provision of the Agreement to the contrary, the Participant may withdraw from the Agreement at any time upon thirty (30) days written notice to the Governing Board of NYLAF by the Chief Fiscal Officer and thereafter the Participant shall cease to have any rights or obligations under the Agreement.

    Section 3. This resolution shall be effective immediately upon its due adoption by the Finance Board.

  4. The Following Check to be Voided: Dated: 6/23/17, Check #: 00803, to the order of Matthew Hamilton in the mount of $75.00
  5. Addition to the firm of Girvin and Ferlazzo, PC, Attorneys at Law for legal/litigation/labor relations counsel at the rate of $180/hr general education and $195/hr for litigation, special education, construction, and any other matters that lead to arbitrations, hearings, disciplinary matters, etc. to the firms previously appointed.

Motion: Jay Deitchman; second, Stacie Haynes, vote 4-0

Personnel Items:

On the recommendation of the superintendent, RESOLVED that the Board of Education approved the following:

  1. Appoint Trevor Halaquist to the position of Substitute Teacher at the un-certified rate and Substitute Teachers Aide at the contractual hourly rate starting December 18, 2019.
  2. Appoint Maria Hatch to the position of Substitute Teacher at the un-certified rate and Substitute Teachers Aide at the contractual hourly rate starting December 18, 2019.
  3. Appoint Diana Brady to the position of Long Term Substitute as Special Education Teacher starting on January 6, 2020 at the contractual rate for the remainder of the 19-20 school year.
  4. Accept Diana Brady’s unpaid leave of absence from the position as an aide for the purpose of filling the position of long-term sub at Schenevus Central School not to exceed June 30, 2020.

Administrative Items:

NONE

Future of Schenevus Items:

On the recommendation of the superintendent, RESOLVED that the Board of Education approved the following:

  1. RESOLUTION
    WHEREAS, due to increasing costs of education and the declining enrollment of secondary students at Schenevus Schools for the 2020-21 school year, the Board does not find it fiscally reasonable or responsible to maintain a secondary school for the 2020-21 school year;WHEREAS, the Board of Education desires to enter into a contract for the education of all resident 7-12 District students with the Worcester Central School District, commencing with the 2020-21 school year and, should a contract of more than 2 years and less than 5 years be necessary, seek voter approval.

    THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Education of the Schenevus Central School District hereby authorizes the Superintendent of Schools to commence discussions with the Worcester Central School District regarding the tuitioning out of all 7-12 District students, effective with the 2020-21 school year. In the event a public referendum is necessary to approve such agreement, the District shall authorize such referendum at a later date.

Prior to the vote a statement was prepared by Jay Deitchman about the Resolution Regarding “Tuitioning-out” to Worcester Central School.

Good evening. I would first like to thank everyone for coming out to the meeting tonight, despite the weather.

There are times when we find ourselves in places that we would prefer not to be, making decisions that we would prefer not to make. That is where we find ourselves today.

I am not going to spend a great deal of time talking about the school district’s financial situation, as this has been, and will continue to be discussed. Instead, I would like to talk about the fundamental mission of the school district and by extension the Board of Education: to provide our students with the best possible education!

This means delivering a quality educational program, that includes the non-mandated courses, services and programs that enrich students and motivate them to come to school.

Having said this, the only way to remain a K-12 school and maintain – not expand, but maintain – the educational program that we have, which includes the non-mandated courses, services and programs mentioned previously – is to significantly raise taxes, each year for the foreseeable future. While some in the community may truly support this path, I do not believe that most are in a position to do so.

Therefore, we need to find a path that, at a minimum, will enable the district to deliver the quality educational program discussed earlier – and preferably, expand the educational opportunities afforded to our students – bringing us to the matter at hand.

In consideration of what I have said, I firmly believe, that at the present time, based upon our current circumstances and the information that we have available to us, the most viable path that the district can take to make certain that our students are offered educational opportunities that provide them with the best possible education, is to formally explore a tuition-out scenario for our 7th – 12 Students to Worcester Central School.

Although this is not my first choice, as that would be to keep Schenevus Central School as a K-12 school, I believe that at the present time, based upon our current circumstances and the information that we have available to us, it is the best choice!

It is for this reason that I will vote “yes” for this resolution. This will enable the district to start working with Worcester Central School on possibilities and is non-binding. At the present time, based upon our current circumstances and the information that we have available to us, I believe that those who live in the school district and are eligible, should have the opportunity to formally weigh-in on the issue by voting on it, thus deciding what path they feel best serves the students while at the same time is responsible to the community.

Motion: Jay Deitchman; second, Stacie Haynes, vote 4-0

Public Comment

Joan Nason asked if it would be feasible for Worcester to tuition out their elementary? Do both schools get equal tax benefits? How much of the available space could be consolidated and rented out for other purposes like offices and are there any restrictions to the building while the students are attending? Jay Deitchman commended Ms. Nason for regularly attending BOE Meetings.

Jean Zachos had several questions such as, how many students we have in 7th and 8th grade and how many 9-12. Ms. Carlin stated there are an estimated 50 students in 7-8th grade and estimated 110 students in 9-12th grade. Ms. Zachos was wondering if this meant that we would be losing half the benefit if we just tuitioned half of the students. Is there anyway we can conduct a pre-vote to see if the community is willing to go ahead with the true vote to tuition out versus just assuming that the public would be willing to do this? Ms. Carlin responded that we can send out surveys but nothing is binding. Mrs. Zachos also wanted to know if Schenevus had any say in the year of the contract so that tuitioning out doesn’t become the normal and the merger is forgotten. Dr. Gallagher responded that is between both schools to negotiate within the contract that both Boards need to approve so if there is something within the contract that one of the schools does not approve, they can vote it down for continuing negotiations.

Steve Barton wanted to know what the additional bussing cost would be prior to the vote to see the total cost with what Worcester is getting paid per student. He also wanted to know who was getting the State Aid credit for our students. Dr. Gallagher responded that due to the fact that the students are still considered Schenevus students, Schenevus would continue to get the State Aid.

Tabatha Torrano officially submitted a complaint on an investigation that was conducted at the school for an appeal. She gave the Board a copy of the investigation and other findings and is requesting a re-investigation. Ms. Torrano said she was advised by the State Education Department to make sure to submit all documents and complaints to the Board as she is doing tonight. She is asking that a particular individual be excluded from the discussion as they are involved in the investigation and it would create a conflict of interest. The Board responded they would look into this.

Tom Snyder asked what tax increases would be necessary to save our K-12 school, stating that this information will assist members of the community to make the right decision. He also asked, if a merger does go through, is it assumed that elementary students would be assigned to the Schenevus building and middle & high school students would be at the Worcester building? And, if the districts merge, would all students fit into one building (Worcester CS) to save on the cost of maintaining the Schenevus building?

Stacie Haynes confirmed with Superintendent Carlin that we will be having forums in every community so that people will have an opportunity to voice their concerns and to have their questions answered. Additionally, members of the community will be invited to serve on committees to present options to the Board. The budget will need to be built on a K-12 school but, if the tuitioning out passes, we will adjust accordingly. The Budget Committee could start as early as February, however we are in need of more community members to participate.

Bill Regg asked, at what point does the State come in and decide what happens with our students and our school? Ms. Carlin responded that, while asking that same question of the State, she was told we would have to show proof that we have done everything possible and show why it didn’t work before they would do anything like that. For example: if Worcester is not an option, we would have to go to district by district to show we did everything. If that doesn’t work than we would have to get down to absolute bare bones, basic mandates, doubling students in each class. It could take up to 10 years before we are at that point. Then the Board would have to meet with the Commissioner to explain how we reached that point.. As an example: that we have 3 students; everyone else has left because Schenevus has nothing to offer and they choose not to attend. The Board would then ask, what would you like us to do? At that point, the State would finally do something.

Having no further business before the Board, Jay Deitchman made a motion to adjourn at 8:01 p.m. second, Stacie Haynes , vote 4-0.

Respectfully submitted, Nicole Couse, District Clerk