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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, November 13, 2008

New post at GCSD
Conservation coordinator will work on green initiatives

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — The school board has created a new post — conservation coordinator — to further the district priority of fostering environmental stewardship.

The post was the brainchild of Cliff Nooney, maintenance supervisor. The school board liked the plan so much that, at its Nov. 5 meeting, it voted, 7 to 0, to suspend its usual practice of waiting to vote on a proposal until the following meeting.

The district will pay the as-yet-not-hired conservation coordinator an annual stipend of $5,000.

Assistant Superintendent for Business Neil Sanders likened the post to that of the energy manager who has saved the district thousands of dollars by getting students and staff to change their habits, for example, by turning off lights when they leave a classroom.

Neil Sanders said the conservation coordinator will increase recycling at all levels throughout the district and move towards single-stream recycling.

He or she will also explore ways to increase revenues for recycled products and will work to reduce or eliminate costs for disposal fees for items like computers and light bulbs, Sanders said. And, he or she will work with students and staff to create a program in each school building to reduce waste and increase recycling as well as looking at ways to reduce paper consumption, including the coordination of mailings.

Finally, said Sanders, the conservation coordinator will “research green initiatives and identify best practices,” extending the programs to parents and community members.

The cost of the new post will be offset by recycling, Sanders said.

In supporting the post, board member Barbara Fraterrigo said she has been to school cafeterias where big waste bins are set up for recycling. “Kids just walk by and nothing goes in,” she said.

“Not only does it make economic sense,” said board President Richard Weisz of the new post, “there’s a stewardship duty here we’re trying to teach the kids.”

Leadership development

The board also voted, 0 to 7, to act immediately on Superintendent John McGuire’s request to join a leadership development program.

Hal Williams, a senior fellow at The Rensselaerville Institute, and Les Loomis, the recently retired long-term Bethlehem superintendent, will advise Guilderland’s administrative team, said McGuire.

The program will cost Guilderland $9,500 before it is reimbursed with aid from the Board of Cooperative Educational Services for a net cost of $3,800, said McGuire. Williams has acquired money that reduces the costs to half of what it would otherwise be, said McGuire, adding it’s a pilot program with six other districts in New York.

McGuire said Guilderland administrators will “work with world-class experts in organizational development and change process and to do it with a team that is coming together very nicely through our recruitment and retention of really top-notch people here.”

“The four of you are kind of new to each other and working as a team,” said board member Colleen O’Connell of McGuire and the three assistant superintendents. She called it “a great idea for the price.”

Other business

In other business, the board:

— Approved additional construction work at Farnsworth Middle School, using bond proceeds from the $20 million referendum approved by voters in 2001 to expand and renovate the school.

In addition to the projects outlined by Sanders — library classroom air-conditioning, cooling tower replacement, boiler valves and piping, a dust collector system, and door hardware at an estimated cost of $370,000 — the board added a combustion management system at the suggestion of board member Barbara Fraterrigo.

“Why wouldn’t we do something with a 1.5-year payback?” asked Weisz.

“We’d love to but didn’t want to spring it on you,” said Sanders;

— Heard from board member Judy Slack that a parent had asked why Guilderland’s graduation ceremony isn’t held at a larger venue like the University at Albany. The ceremony has been held in recent years at the Empire State Plaza’s convention center.

The question has come up more frequently, Weisz said, as the size of the graduating class has grown from the low 400s to the high 400s, limiting the number of family members and friends who can attend.

“A lot of people would love to see it moved,” said O’Connell.

McGuire said he’d look into it; and

— Met in executive session to discuss potential litigation, a personnel issue, and an administrator’s performance review.

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