Voorheesville elementary school gets new start time

Voorheesville Central School District

Voorheesville Elementary School’s start time this fall will be pushed back an hour, from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., though there will be no change in dismissal time. 

NEW SCOTLAND — About 20 percent of Voorheesville students have requested the district’s remote-learning option to start the school year, according to Superintendent Frank Macri. 

Macri told The Enterprise this week that approximately 225 students have opted for the remote-learning model 

At the elementary school, about 150 students requested remote learning for the upcoming school year; at the middle school, 53 students have asked for the option; and at the high school, approximately 24 students — about six students per grade — have asked for remote learning. 

The district enrolls approximately 1,180 students

Macri said that elementary students who have made a remote-learning request will be asked to stay remote for the first trimester of the school year. Secondary students who have chosen the remote-learning option will be asked to stay home for the first semester.

Voorheesville’s remote learning will be taught by its own teachers. 

It had been discussed at a previous board meeting that the Capital Region Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) was creating a kindergarten through sixth-grade distance-learning option that school districts could use, but the board favored a Voorheesville-only model, which Macri said he would explore at the district level.

Other announcements made last week were that elementary school start time this fall will be pushed back an hour, from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., though there’ll be no change in dismissal time.

The fifth grade will once again be housed in the elementary school — the reopening plan originally had fifth-graders at the secondary campus this year — due to the number of remote-learning requests from fifth-grade families, about 25, the school board was told during its Aug. 10 meeting.

By moving the elementary-school starting time forward an hour, the district will save on having to hire staff. With elementary school classes starting an hour later, teachers can get all of their prep time in for the day, negating the need to hire 16 additional staffers.


His kingdom for a copy editor

Voorheesville continues to work out the kinks of state reopening guidance. 

The district is trying to figure out if it is allowed to require testing for COVID-19 as a prerequisite for a staff member or student who had shown symptoms of the disease to re-enter school — there is confusion because of a comma.

The state’s Department of Health reopening guidance has ambiguous language about the testing requirements. 

Paraphrasing the guidance, Macri said during the Aug. 10 meeting, “Go to your medical physician, [comma] COVID test”: That’s more or less what the guidance says is needed for someone to be able to return to school. 

So there is still a lot of conversation whether that comma means “and/or,” the person has to either go to a doctor or get a test, or if the comma means “both,” the person needs to see a doctor and get a test, he said. 

“That comma is the issue,” he said.

Macri told The Enterprise this week that he is still waiting for clarification on the testing from the Albany County Department of Health, which will have the ultimate say whether or not the testing will be required to re-enter school.

County spokeswoman Mary Rozak told The Enterprise that the county Department of Health continues to work on the re-entry testing guidance, and said something could be released as early as this week. 

“They are still working on all of that,” Rozak said.

At a press briefing on Aug. 14, the county’s health commissioner, Elizabeth Whalen, said her department had been receiving many inquiries from schools in the county on testing students. Whalen said she’d been in the midst of “an active planning process,” working both with the state’s health department and area school superintendents, to “hammer out a process” for testing, which would be publicized once it had been determined.


Rielly resigns

The school board on Monday accepted the resignation of Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Francis Rielly, and named Joseph Natale as his interim replacement. 

Natale spent the 2014-15 school year as interim superintendent of the Berne-Knox-Westerlo Central School District, he’s also a former interim business administrator for BKW. He spent the last two years as interim superintendent of the Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville Central School District. 

Natale’s Voorheesville appointment is effective Aug. 13 to Aug. 21, 2021, at a per diem rate of $600, for each full-day worked.

For almost 30 years, Natale worked in downstate school districts, in Orange and Westchester counties, where he held administrative positions. He began as a teacher of mathematics in Amsterdam in Montgomery County, the city where he grew up.

Natale has a bachelor’s  degree and a master’s degree in mathematics from the University at Albany. He later earned a doctorate in educational administration from the university.

Rielly was hired by Voorheesville in 2017

He  grew up in Schenectady and Guilderland, the son of a nurse and a math teacher in the Schenectady city schools. After graduating from high school and earning an associate’s degree from Schenectady County Community College, he worked as an electrician for LaCorte Companies, out of Troy.

When Rielly hurt his shoulder in 2000 and was out of work for a while, friends suggested he could “make a few bucks” as a substitute teacher. He subbed at suburban districts like Guilderland, Bethlehem, and North and South Colonie. 

His first school job was as a fifth-grade teacher at the Martin Luther King Elementary Magnet School in Schenectady. After a couple of years, he taught third-graders there and then moved back to fifth-grade before becoming a sixth-grade teacher at Schenectady’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt Elementary School. Along the way, Rielly became a curriculum and instruction coach, a district position in the Schenectady schools. 


Other business

In other business, the school board: 

— Amended the school year calendar to move the first day of classes for students from Monday, Sept. 8, to Wednesday, Sept. 10. This will allow teachers time for professional training before classes start; and

— Decided the board’s September meeting would meet in-person for board members with the meeting itself live-streamed to the public.

More New Scotland News

  • Robert Baron filed his lawsuit in March 2018, alleging the Voorheesville Central School District fraudulently induced him to resign as the longtime head coach of the girls’ varsity basketball team.

  • The owner of Stonewell Plaza has acquired an attorney who in turn has reached out to New Scotland planning and zoning board attorney Crystal Peck and is now trying to come up with a compromise that might work instead of paying for a parking analysis that is only going to show what is already known by nearly everyone involved: The site has too few spots to accommodate plaza businesses or to meet what is called for in the code.

  • Voorheesville Trustee Richard Straut said that he and Superintendent of Public Works Brett Hotaling had been talking in recent weeks about the impact of inflow and infiltration on the sewer system in the Salem Hills neighborhood, “about some of the troubles we’ve been having,” in particular during heavy rains and when snow melts. 

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