VCSD to allow CYO on school grounds

— From Voorheesville Central School District

Voorheesville Superintendent Frank Macri told school board members at their Nov. 8 meeting the district should be able to close-out its $7.7 capital project “shortly.” The high school’s technology rooms, unchanged since the 1960s, are the last part of the capital project to be completed. 

NEW SCOTLAND — In a partial reversal of a rule established last month, the Voorheesville School Board has decided to allow an outside organization the use of district facilities during periods of substantial and high coronavirus transmission.

Since early August, all of New York State, including Albany County, have been labeled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as having a high rate of transmission, the worst rate. The level of community transmission is based on the number of cases in the last seven days per 100,000 population and the number of tests in the last seven days that have a positive result. Places with high transmission have 100 or more cases per 100,000 population.

In October, Superintendent Frank Macri told board members that “the majority of school districts in the capital area, they are not allowing indoor use by outside organizations; they’re not allowing indoor use during high or substantial transmission rates.” Macri recommended and the board agreed that Voorheesville would not allow indoor use by any outside organization. 

Last year, facilities were closed off to outside groups.

Approximately a half-dozen groups were impacted by the October decision, with the State Police, who use Voorheesville’s pool for training, being the only non-school group still allowed to use the pool. 

On Monday, Macri said what stuck with him after discussions with leaders from the Saint Matthew’s Catholic Youth Organization basketball program was that its kindergarten through fourth-graders’ competition is “completely in-house,” the kids don’t travel to other locations to compete, the students are “in-district.”

The CYO program for approximately 190 kindergartners and first- and second-graders is a skills-building program, while the third- and fourth-graders compete in what is effectively an intramural school sport, where the students are playing their games against other students from Voorheesville.

Board members were generally for the proposal but reluctant to approve it for all ages because indoor protocols had yet to be determined by the district. Argi O’Leary, who recused herself from voting against the measure in October because she is also on the CYO board, was all for allowing all ages to participate. 

The board ultimately approved the K-2 program using district facilities, but wanted to send the conversation regarding third- and fourth-graders to the facilities committee for a more in-depth discussion — the school board discussed having a special meeting before its December meeting to make a decision on the third- and fourth-grade program.

 

Capital project

Macri told board members the district should be able to close out its $7.7 capital project “shortly.”

Passed by voters in 2018, the project allowed the district to upgrade, among other things, heating, windows, and labs in Voorheesville’s schools.

The high school’s technology rooms, unchanged since the 1960s, are the last part of the capital project to be completed. 

Both rooms are “clean” rooms, engineered spaces that allow for low concentrations of airborne particles. One is a computer room and the other is a shared work room that contains laser and 3D printers, and the district is looking to put a television studio in the space as well. 

The estimated cost in 2018 to expand and renovate the high school labs in addition to renovating a middle-school technology lab was $2 million.

 

Staffing issues

Macri said the district is experiencing staffing shortages, especially bus drivers, support staff, and custodial workers.

“We’re trying to do a big push right now to get more,” he said, adding there’s been a bigger push for more transportation staff. “We are basically bare minimum right now at our transportation [department].” 

Two transportation staffer absences could create “a bigger issue with routing,” Macri said; the district already has the department mechanics and dispatchers driving to make up for the shortage.

“So now we’re just trying a different approach,” Macri said, “because we’ve tried all the traditional ones of trying to find people.” The district would typically hire through Online Application System for K-12 Education (OLAS), but Voorheesville has resorted to posting flyers in laundromats, libraries, and grocery stores.

 

Vaccines

Macri sent out a recent survey about COVID-19 vaccinations — it wasn’t a notice about mandatory vaccinations for all students, as some people who received the survey thought, he said. 

The survey was meant to gauge how many parents would be interested in vaccinations for their children so Macri could work with the district’s vaccine provider to get a dosage-number needed. 

Approximately 350 vaccines were requested by community members, representing about half the district’s eligible age 5 through 11 population.

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