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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 27, 2007

McGuire takes the helm at Guilderland,
prepared to steer an inclusive course

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — The new superintendent of the Guilderland schools, John McGuire, began his career 30-odd years ago teaching emotionally disturbed students. He went on to help usher in an era of integration for special-needs students.

"It was interesting and challenging work," said McGuire of his first job. "I tell people it helped me prepare for a career in education and they think I'm kidding."

He continued, in a serious tone, "Special-education students had been excluded from public schools or segregated. There was a lot of advocacy and reaching out to colleagues and trying different learning experiences."

McGuire, who has worked for the last three years as the superintendent of schools in rural Greenwich, N.Y., says he relishes the chance to lead the larger suburban Guilderland district. He will begin work Nov. 12 and be paid $164,000.

Asked how long he intends to stay at Guilderland, McGuire said, "I’m 60 years old. I’d like to stay a good long time."

Education runs in McGuire's family. His mother was a teacher as were his aunts and uncles. His wife, Brenda, is an educator who taught for many years and now owns her own business, consulting for schools across the country.

Their elder daughter, Sarah, a sociologist, is an associate professor at Tufts University interested in political gender issues, currently writing a book, Convention Contention, on advocacy in presidential politics. She and her husband, Jim, an environmental engineer, have two young children — Quinn and Graham.

The McGuires’ son, Bailey, teaches fifth grade in Nevada — "He’s just dynamic at it," said his father with pride — while their younger daughter, Maddie, is starting her sophomore year of high school, where she’s a cheerleader and lacrosse player.

Early leader

McGuire grew up in western New York, in a mining community in Livingston County. While his mother taught, his father worked as a machinist.

"I always did well in school. I think I enjoyed the social aspects," McGuire said. He was a leader, serving as president of both his school’s student government and of a county-wide organization of schools.

His favorite subjects were English and social studies, and he played baseball, basketball, and football. "I was equally mediocre at all of them," he said with a chuckle.

McGuire graduated from the York Central Schools in 1965 and went on to the State University of New York College at Geneseo, where he majored in education with a minor in psychology.

Varied career path

His first job was in the Rochester schools, teaching emotionally disturbed students. In the midst of the Vietnam War, he soon enlisted in the Air Force. "I was going to be drafted in the Army," he said.

McGuire was stationed in Illinois as an "education specialist," he said, and did office work on the base, administering GED tests and handling GI Bill benefits. When the war ended, he was discharged, a year short of his four-year enlistment.

He stayed on in Illinois to complete his master’s degree in education at the University at Illinois.

McGuire was accepted into the doctoral program at Syracuse University’s School of Education in the administrative program. "I did all of the course work and took the qualifying exam," he said, and then, instead of finishing his dissertation, he accepted a job offer. "I had a young family to support," said McGuire.

Finishing up his dissertation might some day be a retirement project, he allowed. McGuire had researched the impact of witness testimony on landmark case law in special education. "Syracuse University was a font of advocacy," he said, "and I interacted with a lot of the key players."

He was particularly interested in the PARC case, in which the Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children sued the commonwealth; the 1971 decision was a landmark in establishing the responsibility of states to educate children with disabilities. Four years later, special education programs were made mandatory when Congress passed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, responding to discriminatory treatment. Until its passage, American schools educated only one out of every five children with disabilities.

"I love education law," said McGuire.

The job that called him away from his studies was with the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. He worked as the statewide coordinator for 22 private residential schools.

"I learned I wanted to be close to the progress that was being made," said McGuire. He became the associate director of the United Cerebral Palsy Association.

He returned to a school environment as director of special programs at Shenendehowa, a job he held for over five years. Then he moved to general education as the director of instruction for the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk schools.

That move was a tough one, he recalled. "What I learned was, I had labeled myself," McGuire said of his long career dealing with special-needs students. "At first, I wasn’t invited to interview," he said of applying for posts in the general education field.

"Being a specialist was a disadvantage in getting a job but on the job it was a great advantage," he said. Because of his training, he said, he was in tune with techniques that could be used to reach each student and was, through years of advocacy for students, able to reach out to a wide range of staff members.

He was at Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk for about five years and then was invited to apply as the assistant superintendent for instruction at Bethlehem, he said, where he worked for about seven years before taking the superintendent’s job at Greenwich.

"A next step"

He called Greenwich "a wonderful gem of a community and a school district."

Asked what he is proudest of accomplishing in his three years at Greenwich, McGuire said, "The most important work is we’ve created a professional model for improving student progress." He described it as "a teacher empowerment model" and explained, "Teams of teachers are afforded time to come together and analyze student performance data. The focus is always on the outcome, looking at where we are doing well and where we can do better"

"We articulate priority goals, such as increasing the percentage of students achieving mastery in English"We articulate a timeline and by what measure they will assess success."

The model, he said, took a year to design and involved all different members of the school community. "That will endure," he said. "It has become part of the culture of the district."

McGuire also said that "a couple of bond projects" had put facilities "in the best shape ever" and that employee relations were exemplary.

In short, he said, there was "no negative impetus" for his leaving Greenwich. "I’ve gotten great support," he said.

McGuire was drawn to Guilderland as "a next step," he said, referring to "the size and scope" of the district.

"It’s a very fine district," he said. "I’m impressed with the level of dialogue in the community. People in Guilderland care about education."

"Create consensus about our vision"

Asked about his goals at Guilderland, McGuire said, "From Day One, my first charge is to listen as much and as fast as I can." McGuire said he relishes "the opportunity to meet with people in all different roles, to hear what is going well and what could be going better."

He went on, "I do bring something to the table." But, McGuire said, it would be "extremely presumptuous" of him to overlay his ideas on a "tradition of excellence" without first understanding what is in place.

"The important thing to me," he said, "is to come together to create consensus about our vision." He said that "you’re never done" with professional development, curriculum development, and continuous improvement.

Another high priority on his list, said McGuire, is "to engage with the board in our development as a governance and leadership team." He went on, "We need to get to know one another, to interface ways to best serve our students and our community."

Guilderland School Board members have expressed different opinions on what the role of a superintendent should be. The outgoing superintendent has said he considers himself to be a non-voting member of the board.

Asked how he sees his role, McGuire said, "The old school of thought is that the board of education is the governing body, setting policy and advising the superintendent who functions as a CEO. It used to be the school of thought that the two never interface."

A big part of the job, he said, is "implementation and execution of board policies." He went on, "Communication is absolutely essential. I’ve always worked closely and collaboratively with boards"so they feel they can make useful policy decisions."

He was appointed to his new job by a vote of 6 to 3 and said the split vote "doesn’t make it difficult for me." (See related story.)

In recent years, the Guilderland board as been divided over a number of issues — one of them is the importance of required standardized tests, with some members advocating their importance and others warning against teaching to the test at the expense of a rich curriculum.

"We can engage in philosophical debate," said McGuire, "but the reality for me as a practitioner is: This is mandatory. I will never put our district in a position of not complying with legal mandates.

"The standards and accountability movement, as imperfect as it may be, has made us accountable and attend more to student learning," said McGuire. In the past, he said, "The focus had been on process"We would put kids in a remedial program and never ask, ‘Can Johnny read"’"

While McGuire said he is "not a big proponent of a lot of testing," he said required testing does not necessarily mean losing quality programs.

The Guilderland board has also been divided over the reading curriculum. Some parents complained to the board last year about the failure of the district to teach their children to read. The faculty defended the program, presenting data showing the overall success of the reading program and explaining how learning is tailored to meet individual needs of struggling students.

The president of the teachers’ union said comments made by some board members in response to the complaints "sent a chilling message of distrust and has provoked fear in teachers and staff." He said the board seemed willing to substitute its judgment of an academic program for that of its professional staff.

Asked for his views, McGuire said, "We rely on the professional expertise of our people in terms of what we teach and how we teach."

He went on to say, "It’s appropriate to ask, ‘How are our students doing"’"We should be able to go to the table with ideas to share"This should be a win-win debate for our students."

The Guilderland School District, which is proud of its anti-bullying initiative, recently paid a family $5,000 to settle a suit claiming their daughter had been sexually harassed, called "slut," by her coach. A similar suit against the district is scheduled for trial in January.

Last year, a federal judge dismissed a suit claiming racial discrimination. The school district said it had defended its reputation but the mother of the plaintiff, an African-American student at the high school, said she hoped the district would talk about what it would do to create a safer environment.

Asked what, if anything, the new superintendent might do to foster tolerance of diversity, McGuire said, "Part of what I do as superintendent is we talk a great deal about the concepts that embody character."

His first year at Greenwich, he said, he worked with others in the school community to "establish a core value statement." The district decided it values scholarship, character, and community, he said. "That doesn’t change over time"We focus on these to help our students take charge of their lives and to better the world in which they live."

He went on, "As a leader, a big way we can influence and set a tone is by our modeling. That helps to establish a climate."

People, he said, don’t want to be merely tolerated, but rather appreciated for who they are.

Split vote for new GCSD super

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — For the first time in at least 20 years, the school board here has appointed a new superintendent with a split vote.

In a special meeting last Thursday morning, the board voted, 6 to 3, to appoint John McGuire, 60, superintendent of schools. He'll be paid $164,000. The retiring superintendent, Gregory Aidala, who is 56, earned $150,000 this year. Both men came to Guilderland after working as superintendents for schools in Washington County — McGuire at Greenwich and Aidala at Salem.

McGuire sounded unfazed by the split. He said that any politician would be pleased with a two-thirds majority vote.

"Certainly," he told The Enterprise on Sunday, "I want to earn the respect and confidence of every member of the board."

Janet Rothacker, a former board member, said she was concerned about the message the split vote would send to the community. "The board used to really try hard to reach consensus on such important matters," she said.

The field of over 20 applicants was narrowed to just two candidates, said school board President Richard Weisz. "We had two wonderful candidates," he said. "Six people thought the successful candidate was a better fit."

Weisz likened it to wedding guests having to choose between a menu of meat or fish. "There was a strong difference of opinion on whether it was meat or it was fish," he said. "The board has little unanimity on many issues. Some say it's a strength, others a weakness."

Of the three board members who voted against McGuire's appointment last Thursday morning, only Peter Golden gave an explanation.

"While I have no reason to believe that Mr. McGuire is not a good and decent man, I do not think his selection is consistent with a creative forward-thinking approach to education — the goal that this board set for itself," said Golden. "For the sake of our students, employees, and community, I hope that Mr. McGuire proves me wrong."

The Enterprise called the other two board members, Barbara Fraterrigo and Hy Dubowsky, to ask their reasons. "We were presented with a choice," Dubowsky responded in an e-mail. "I don't believe a school district of our caliber, in the dynamic information age we live in, can simply afford to be content with our relative success but rather needs to boldly forge ahead of the pack.

"Some argue that split votes hurt the district and our spirited debates during our public board meetings present a divisive and fractured body. This country was born out of dissent and to suppress our right of free speech, regardless of the reason, sends shivers down my spine.

"So, for me" Dubowsky concluded, "my vote was an affirmation of the faith the voters who placed their faith in me when they elected me and was guided only by the overriding principle that we serve all the children in this exceptional school district."

Fraterrigo said she cast her "no" vote "because I wanted to let the other candidate know how strongly some of us felt about her."

The trio was impressed with the other candidate's doctoral degree, youthful and progressive outlook, stellar recommendations, and record of pulling up scores at another district.

"I think John is an excellent choice," Weisz said of McGuire at the Thursday morning meeting, making the only comments about McGuire.

McGuire has had a wide range of experience in a number of different settings, Weisz said, and he was innovative, for example, introducing the study of Chinese into the curriculum at Greenwich. He will help Guilderland move forward, Weisz said, adding that he was "very excited for the opportunity to work with him."

Weisz expanded this week for The Enterprise on the selection process, which involved about 60 different people — administrators, parents, community members, teachers, and staff — who met in groups to interview the top candidates and then shared their observations with the school board members who conducted the final interviews.

After the 6-to-3 vote for McGuire, Weisz made a motion for "a unanimous ballot." This time, the vote was 8 to 1, with Golden as the sole dissenter.

Weisz told The Enterprise afterwards that he made the motion as "a sign of support," likening it to a political convention where, after delegates have disagreed, they come together behind the party's choice.

"I didn't believe in the necessity of the second vote," Golden said in an e-mail to The Enterprise. "No conscientious board member would work at cross purposes to a superintendent just because he didn't vote for him. That would be terrible for the district and the community.

Similarly, Fraterrigo told The Enterprise later, "Once a decision is made and a person hired, you make things work for the kids in the community."

Aidala told The Enterprise directly after the Thursday morning meeting that the 6-to-3 vote would come as no surprise to McGuire. "He's comfortable with that; he's a professional," said the outgoing superintendent.

Seven years ago, Aidala himself had been hired with a unanimous vote. Asked if it would have been difficult for him to come on board after a split vote, he said, "It's more challenging"We play the cards we're dealt."

Referring to board meetings in recent months, Aidala said, "I am more outspoken"I want to be sure we remain on course."

Special meeting

Last Thursday's vote was taken at an 8:15 a.m. meeting in the district office rather than at the regularly scheduled Tuesday evening meeting, which is televised.

Asked why, Aidala said the earlier appointment would allow Greenwich more time to find a replacement. Fraterrigo countered that four business days wouldn't make much of a difference.

"What is the difference," Fraterrigo asked The Enterprise, "that four days would make compared to having it done publicly with the cameras""

New York's Open Meetings Law requires public notice of the time and place of a meeting scheduled at least one week prior be given to the news media and be conspicuously posted. Even in an emergency, public notice is to be given "to the extent practicable, to the news media" and to be conspicuously posted.

Weisz told The Enterprise that the Thursday vote allowed McGuire to attend the workshop before Tuesday's school board meeting as the superintendent designee. The board met to discuss collective bargaining, as the teachers' contract will be negotiated in the upcoming year.

Neither reason rises to the level of an emergency, according to Camille Jobin-Davis, the assistant director of the state's Committee on Open Government. "I would term those a preference, not an emergency," she said.

The school board's clerk, Linda Livingston, said she was told of the Thursday meeting the day before, on Wednesday, Sept. 19, and e-mailed each of the district's schools to post a notice with the time, place, and purpose — to appoint a new superintendent. Such a notice was posted at the district office.

Livingston also told Amy Zurlo, communications director for the district, who said she posted notice of the meeting on the district's website. "I posted it on the home page on top of the news briefs as soon as I was told about it," said Zurlo.

While posting notices in the schools may fulfill the conspicuous posting requirement, Jobin-Davis said that neither that nor posting a notice on the website the day before fulfills the law's requirement to notify the media of a meeting.

Typically a governing body, even when holding an emergency meeting, will call, fax, or e-mail the press about a meeting.

Superintendent's contract

At the Thursday-morning meeting, Barbara Fraterrigo asked to see a copy of the contract with McGuire. She asked if he were to retire and go to work for another district, would Guilderland still have to cover his health insurance.

This prompted the board to go into an executive session to review the contract, which is allowed by law.

"I like to be an informed voter," Fraterrigo said later, alluding to problems that the Voorheesville School Board had run into because board members hadn't reviewed their superintendent's contracts.

The Enterprise obtained a copy of the contract on Tuesday after filing a Freedom of Information Law request.

The three-and-a-half-year contract runs from November of 2007 to June of 2011. Fraterrigo credited Weisz with advising the extra half-year be added, which she said wac a good idea because a couple of top candidates accepted jobs elsewhere before Guilderland completed its selection process. This will put the district in a better position the next time it goes through the hiring cycle, she said.

The 11-page document spells out McGuire's duties and professional obligations.

"It is intended that the Superintendent will maintain a residence within the Guilderland Central School District," it says.

The contract also says that, with board approval, he can "undertake consultation work, speaking engagements, and/or professionally related writing or lecturing" as long as it doesn't affect his job performance.

It sets his salary at $164,000 pro-rated, and states that the board expects the superintendent to "continue his professional development and further expects him to participate in relevant learning experiences."

He is given 25 days of paid vacation annually and is credited with 50 days of sick leave when he starts work; he is then credited with 10 additional days of paid sick leave each school year. He is also granted three personal business days each year and five bereavement days per occurrence.

The board can terminate the agreement if he becomes "permanently disabled." He has to have a medical exam each school year.

The district pays 78 percent of the premium cost of his health insurance; he pays the remaining 22 percent. If he retires anytime after June 30, 2010, the board provides health insurance coverage under either an individual or family health insurance plan for the superintendent and his spouse for the rest of their lives.

Assistant Superintendent for Business Neil Sanders said yesterday that McGuire has not yet chosen his health-care plan, but Sanders estimated that the district’s annual cost will range, depending on the plan, from $10,725 annually to $13,690.

The district also pays $3,000 per year for the cost of a life insurance policy for the superintendent, the contract says.

The board agrees to protect the superintendent from financial loss out of claims arising from his duties as superintendent, and it will provide legal counsel to defend him.

The district will reimburse him for mileage when he travels on school business and also pay for accommodations and meals. He is provided with a cell phone and laptop computer, which he must return when he stops working for the district.

He may resign as long as he gives 60 days' notice. But he can't be fired without "good and just cause" which includes "insubordination, immoral character, conduct unbecoming a superintendent" or "inefficiency, incapacity, incompetence, or neglect of duty," or "failure to maintain certification."

McGuire begins work on Nov. 12 and assumes full duties on Nov. 19.

Intoxicated teen hits cop car, telephone pole

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — A drunk high school student backed into a cop’s car last Thursday before she sped off and crashed into a telephone pole, Guilderland Police say.

Sondra P. Galvin, 17, was arrested for driving while intoxicated, first offense, a misdemeanor, and for four infractions: speeding; driving without a front-seat belt; leaving the scene of an accident; and failure to keep right.

Galvin, of 3 Moore Ave., Saratoga, was listed in the arrest report as being an 11th grade student; and she was arrested on West Lydius Street.

Police received a radio call about a car "driving at a high rate of speed" through the town of Rotterdam and they found Galvin parked at a gas station, the report says. When a Guilderland Police officer pulled behind Galvin with his lights on, she backed into his vehicle before jumping the curb and speeding away on West Lydius, according to the arrest report.

Guilderland Police say they found Galvin a short time later after she crashed into a telephone pole. Police found Galvin "hiding" in the back seat of the crashed vehicle, and, when asked to get out of the car, she "did not have any pants or underwear on," the report says.

Galvin admitted to police that she had been drinking vodka and beer and she had several "head lacerations and contusions" as a result of the car crash, police say. Police say they saw signs of intoxication and smelled alcohol when interviewing Galvin, the report says, and also that she looked "dazed and confused"and [was] not making sense."

A pre-screening device revealed that Galvin tested positive for alcohol and she was transported to Albany Medical Center Hospital before being released, according to the arrest report.

Lockskin does not notify police of address change

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — Following up on a local tip and a warrant from the Saranac Lake Police Department in the Adirondacks, Guilderland Police arrested a registered sex offender last Friday for failing to notify authorities of an address change.

David M. Lockskin, 21, was taken into custody by Guilderland Police at the St. Peter’s Addiction Recovery Center on Mercycare Lane.

Lockskin was listed with the state’s sex offender registry as living at 159 Glenwood Dr., Saranac Lake, but he did not notify anyone when he entered SPARC in Guilderland. He was arrested without incident and transported to the State Police barracks in Loudonville where he was extradited to the village of Saranac Lake on a felony charge.

Lockskin is listed as a Level 2 sex offender, according to the Department of Criminal Justice Services. Level 3 sex offenders are deemed the most likely to re-offend in the state’s three-level sex offender registration system.

Lockskin was convicted of committing a second-degree sexual act with a 14-year-old female on May 2, 2007. He was arrested by Schenectady Police in the city of Schenectady for performing an oral or anal sex act with a victim under the age of 15, according to DCJS.

Lockskin’s offense description is listed by the DCJS as "actual deviate sexual intercourse" with a non-stranger, and it says that no weapon or force was used during the act.

Lockskin was sentenced to six months in a local jail and to 10 years of probation with the Schenectady County Probation Office. His arrest report says he is 6 feet, 3 inches tall, and that he weighs 210 pounds. Lockskin has a scar on his abdomen and a tattoo on his left forearm, the report says.

First Sergeant Emanual Shulman of the Guilderland Police praised the State Police’s role in the case.

"There was a warrant put out by Saranac Lake"and we had information that he was at SPARC through his probation officer," Shulman told The Enterprise. "The State Police transport team brought him back to Saranac Lake."

Shulman said that State Police save local police stations from having to use their own police cars to extradite people over long distances. It helps ensure that local police cruisers are kept in their jurisdictions and not taken "out of service," he said.

"Kudos to the State Police for doing this," Shulman said. "That doesn’t happen that often"That was very nice of them."

Man arrested for driving stolen car, stealing jewels

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — A routine traffic stop led police to a discover a stolen car and a bag of stolen jewels.

Guilderland Police stopped a vehicle on Sept. 15 driven by Sean E. Curtis, 21, also known as "Scooby," on Western Avenue, because Curtis "appeared to be intoxicated," the arrest report says.

Inside of Curtis’s vehicle were four other passengers.

Upon investigation, it was discovered that the vehicle he was driving had been reported stolen out of the city of Watervliet on Sept. 2, according to First-Sergeant Emanual Shulman of the Guilderland Police.

When interviewed, Curtis, of 1301 Fourth St., Schenectady, showed signs of intoxication and was given a field-sobriety test, which he failed, according to the arrest report.

His passengers were Whitney M. Lewis, 21, of 120 Prospect St., Schenectady; Jackie Diamond, 18, of 450 Maybe Ln., Schenectady; Richard J. Whiting, 18, of 812 Eastern Ave., Schenectady; and Kiley J. Morlang, 19, of 91 Keller Ave., Rotterdam.

Shulman said that officers discovered a blue velvet pouch in the car with over a $1,000 worth of stolen jewelry. The jewels were reported stolen from a Rotterdam home the day before.

The jewelry was reported stolen by a friend of one of the women inside of the car, Schulman told The Enterprise.

Curtis was transported back to the Guilderland Police station where a chemical test revealed a blood-alcohol content of .06 percent, the report says. The cut-off point for driving while intoxicated is .08 percent.

Curtis has been charged with third-degree criminal possession of stolen property and fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, both felonies, as well as driving while ability impaired by alcohol, an infraction. Curtis was arraigned in Guilderland Town Court and remanded to Albany County’s jail.

Lewis, Diamond, Whiting, and Morlang were all charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, with a value greater than $1,000, a felony.

Paolino new GHS principal

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — With a newly-minted MBA in accounting from Union College, Michael Paolino was 18 months into his first job at a big firm in Boston — "a great city, making good money," he said — when he realized something was missing.

"In the corporate world, I realized there were no intrinsic rewards; it was all outward. That's not how I wanted to be measured," said Paolino.

As a student at Shalmont, he had been influenced by his favorite teacher: "Mr. Bruce Bouck taught phys. ed. and was my baseball coach"," said Paolino. "We were preparing for a big game my junior year of high school when he collapsed at my feet." Bouck died of a heart attack.

"Our relationship as student and teacher, his passion for what he did, it's stayed with me all these years," said Paolino.

He shared this story Tuesday night, just after being named the new principal of Guilderland High School. The school board vote was unanimous; Paolino will earn $110,000.

Paolino spoke with great excitement about his new job and, at age 35, recounted the formative decision of his young adulthood with clarity and vigor.

After realizing he wanted something different from life than what the Boston firm had to offer, Paolino talked to his parents. They were both educators. His father spent 20 years as the assistant superintendent for business at Mohonasen, retiring from a similar post in the Albany City Schools. His mother was a GED supervisor at BOCES. Paolino returned to his home in Rotterdam and studied at Siena College to earn teaching certification in business education. (He had earned his bachelor’s degree at Union and later received administrative certification from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.)

"It's in the blood," Paolino said of teaching. His older brother is a middle-school principal. Only his younger sister broke ranks; she's an attorney. "We say she's the smart one," Paolino quipped.

His first teaching job was in Voorheesville. He was there for three-and-a-half years when he was offered an assistant principal's job at Watervliet Junior-Senior High School. Then, when an associate principal's job opened in Voorheesville, he returned.

"I have a love affair with Voorheesville," said Paolino.

He has been an associate principal and district data coordinator there for the past five years. He is especially enamored of Mark Diefendorf, the high school principal, whom he calls a mentor and best friend. "He's taught me the importance of being student-centered"of always asking, 'What is in the best interest of the student"'" said Paolino.

Asked why he's leaving Voorheesville, Paolino said, "It's always been my ambition to become a building principal. I always strive to be the best I can be. I consider myself a natural-born leader."

Paolino said he was attracted to Guilderland High School because of its academic record and because the district is "outstanding."

He is following a string of short-term principals at Guilderland.

When John Whipple retired in 2003 after 14 years as principal, he was replaced by Ismael Villafane who left after two years to return to Texas where he had spent decades as an educator. Frank Tedesco, a retired administrator who spent three decades in education, filled in until Michael Piccirillo was appointed in the fall of 2006. He left after 20 months to work as an assistant superintendent at Saratoga Springs. Harry Kachadurian, who had retired after 36 years in education, has since been filling in as an interim principal.

"I'm not looking at this as a short-term stepping-stone position," Paolino told The Enterprise Tuesday night. "I want to bring continuity."

Paolino has a standard three-year probationary appointment and is slated to begin work in mid-October. No firm date had been set, he said, because Voorheesville's high school principal has been on a leave of absence and the districts are waiting for his return.

While Guilderland's high school has about four times as many students as Voorheesville's, Paolino still plans to get to know students as well as staff.

"I told the students who interviewed me," he said, referring to the hiring process, which included student input, "that I was going to listen to what the students have to offer and I will. That's a commitment on my part."

One of the things he learned at Voorheesville, Paolino said, is how important it is to find what connects students to school. For him, as a high school student, athletics were key. "It could be art or music or sports, whatever it is that connects students to school is important," said Paolino.

"My goal, at first, is simply to listen and learn," he said. "I want to know as much as I can about the high school and its culture."

He said that not only is Voorheesville close to Guilderland in terms of distance but that the two districts share "a strong understanding." He already has good relationships, he said, with members of the Guilderland faculty and staff.

Paolino's family — his wife, Stacey, who is taking time off from her teaching career to be home with their 17-month-old twin boys — came with him to Tuesday's school board meeting.

"I believe in family and the connection to family," Paolino said. "My family is accepting the position with me. We want to be part of the Guilderland community."

Out of the race
Slavick backs Conners

By Jarrett Carroll

ALBANY COUNTY — What started out as a contentious county comptroller race, has ended politely.

Guilderland Councilwoman Patricia Slavick dropped out of the race against Comptroller Michael Conners on Tuesday, after losing the Democratic primary last Tuesday.

Conners, a three-term incumbent, bested Slavick at the polls, with 9,246 Democrats voting for the him over Slavick’s 7,603 votes, by unofficial counts from the Albany County Board of Elections.

Slavick cited a lack of resources with only small-party endorsements, and family reasons as for why she packed up the campaign. She had the Working Families line and, according to unofficial results, won the Independence Party line in last week’s primary.

"It is the appropriate course of action if you don’t have the major lines," said Slavick, an accountant who works for the state’s comptrollers office. "I want to take some time with my family"I did get a lot of help from people all over the county and I am really appreciative of that."

Slavick said that, now that she knows Albany Democrats are behind Conners, so is she. In the meantime, Slavick said she will be helping her fellow Democrats "on the local level" as the Nov. 6 election nears.

She also thanked all of the Democrats who voted for her and gave special thanks to her campaign managers and workers.

As for seeing Slavick signs in the future, the Guilderland councilwoman said not to rule out the possibility.

"If the opportunity presented itself for another office in the future, I would certainly have to consider it," she said. "I really value serving the town of Guilderland, though."

Conners said he "was overcome" by Slavick’s graciousness and support for his campaign.

"I’m disappointed that my opponent dropped out of the race"It was a heartfelt race and she did very well at the door-to-door," Conners said. "She is to be commended for stepping up to the plate like she did."

Conners said more people like Slavick need to come forward in elections so that the public has the ability to choose between good candidates.

Both Democrats said it is time for the party to move forward and work for the good of all Albany County residents. Conners faces no Republican opponent in the Nov. 6 election.

TV forum
Grimm chides Runion, appeals to school board

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — For the second time in a week, Mark Grimm, a Republican candidate for the Guilderland Town Board, has used televised public meetings as a forum for his campaign.

Last Thursday, he questioned the all-Democratic town board about its handling of an investigation into complaints against the town’s former police chief, James Murley.

Grimm said that there were "oversight problems" surrounding Chief Murley’s retirement. He asked the board to "make every document available."

Murley resigned in May after being suspended without pay in March. He was accused of sexual harassment; misconduct in connection with interaction with a vendor; violations of the town’s ethics law; and misconduct regarding the maintenance of complete and accurate attendance and leave records. (For full background coverage, go to www.altamonteneterprise.com, under "Archives" for Feb. 15, March 1, 8, 15, and 22, April 5, and May 3.)

Grimm also told the town board that the search for the next police chief should be an "open process" with public input.

On Tuesday, Grimm appeared before the Guilderland School Board to complain about a letter Supervisor Kenneth Runion had sent to Conservative Party voters before last week’s primary. Grimm said Runion had unfairly portrayed a school-district committee.

He wrote a letter to the Enterprise editor this week, voicing similar concerns.

Grimm has served on the district’s Citizens Budget Advisory Committee for four years. The committee holds a half-dozen televised meetings where administrators present a spending plan in detail and then answer questions and concerns. After committee members make their recommendations, the school board advises the administration on changes it would like to see and ultimately adopts a proposal that goes to the voters for the final say.

About three quarters of this year’s budget review committee supported the spending plan as proposed by school administrators; Grimm was not among them. He said that, in six years, the budget had gone form $62 million to $82 million with 340 fewer students, which he called "a red flag that indicates the money isn’t going to the students." He has consistently urged the school board to "change the culture of unrestricted spending."

Runion wrote his letter to Conservatives in support of Democratic town board incumbent candidates David Bosworth and Michael Ricard, pointing out that the town’s tax rate is lower than the school district’s and saying: "The school tax is levied by the school board, not the town board and is voted on by the taxpayers""

Alluding to Grimm, he went on, "The Republican candidate has served on"[the school district’s] budget review committee for the past four years. The budget review committee has recommended tax and spending increases for each of those four years. The school tax has increased for the average taxpayer in the Guilderland School District by over 18% during his watch. The Republican candidate claims to be a ‘seasoned watchdog’ and a ‘leading taxpayer advocate.’ As such, he has been a member of a budget committee that has increased your school taxes by over 18%. Is this the type of ‘watchdog’ and ‘taxpayer advocate’ you want on the town board""

Grimm told the school board Tuesday that he considered the "friction healthy" on the budget committee and that diverse opinions were valuable.

He said the committee had been attacked by Runion and that Runion had made an "extraordinary mistake" in his letter by mischaracterizing the role of the committee. Grimm said Runion’s criticism could have a "chilling" effect on the recruitment of volunteers for the committee.

He asked the board to confirm that the committee is advisory only and to send a letter to Runion.

The school board, following its usual protocol during public-comment sessions, did not respond to Grimm’s assertions.

After the meeting, The Enterprise asked board President Richard Weisz if he had a comment. "He’s technically correct," Weisz said of Grimm. The citizens’ committee is advisory, he said, and the budget proposal is "passed by the school board."

Runion, reached by phone yesterday, stood by his letter. "Whatever I stated in my letter I believe was accurate," he said.

He went on, "Whenever you serve on a committee, it’s part of the process. You can’t divorce yourself from that; you have to live by whatever the majority decides."

Runion also said, "Mr. Grimm is an advertising consultant. He likes to get TV time as a means of furthering his political ambition."

Grimm describes his Guilderland business, at the Mark Grimm Communications’ website, as a "media relations and public speaking training firm."

— Jarrett Carroll contributed comments from Thursday’s Guilderland Town Board meeting to this story.

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