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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, December 17, 2009

Voorheesville School Board defines itself

By Saranac Hale Spencer

VOORHEESVILLE — The school board’s vision for itself and the district was adopted unanimously this week.

“Be all you can be” is what the goals of the district should suggest, without sounding militaristic, said board President David Gibson with a slightly self-deprecating cast of the eye during a roughly half-hour discussion at the board’s November meeting.

Seven board members discussed in earnest the implications of the wording for their goals this year after freshman board member Cheryl Dozier suggested that the onus fell too heavily on the students rather than on the school.

Unable to come to satisfactory terms at that point, the board created a committee charged with “wordsmithing” a document that would embody the board’s vision for the district.

“The Voorheesville Central School District will provide experiences for children to: develop exemplary scholarship; broaden cognitive, physical, and social capacities; develop intellectual curiosity, problem solving, and critical thinking; demonstrate outstanding character; practice habits of good health and wellness; become thoughtful, participatory citizens,” the vision statement says.

“The Board of Education will provide policies and resources: to create a climate conducive for learning for all children, staff, and community members; to hire and develop the highest quality personnel; for teachers to engage in sound instructional practices for continuous student growth and development; to maintain facilities that are safe and inviting; to be fiscally responsible to the community,” it says.

It goes on to define goals specific to this academic year, including, for student success and achievement, that “the district will examine and address areas of strength and weakness in student achievement by using multiple and appropriate data sources to inform instruction.” And, for communication, that “the district will develop a comprehensive communication plan involving all stakeholders.”

The ideas expressed in the document came out of a September retreat attended by the board and the district’s new superintendent, Dr. Teresa Thayer Snyder.

Typically, Snyder said this week, a district’s goals remain steady each year, but its tasks change.

The first task with which the board charged itself is finding a new high school principal.  Mark Diefendorf, a one-time teacher in the district, will be retiring from the principal’s post in June.  Posting the position in January, the board hopes to make an appointment by March 8, Snyder said.

Sixth on the list of 13 tasks for the year is to “develop district goals and objectives for 2010-2011.”

Other business

In other business at recent meetings, the school board:

— Heard from Tom Sweeney on behalf of students and parents who want to start a lacrosse team at Voorheesville;

— Voted unanimously to appoint Charles W. Clarke as a substitute bus driver, Dianne Elmendorf as a substitute food service helper, and Joann Donahue, Eileen Lawrence, and Anne Smolen as substitute secretaries;

— Voted unanimously to appoint Kathleen Bogert as a temporary teaching assistant for middle school special education from Nov. 30, 2009 to Jan. 29, 2010;

— Voted unanimously to appoint Molly Reilly, Thomas Gagnon, Rebecca Hoffman, Jeannie McDonnell, and Astrid Pettersen as teaching assistants in the elementary school;

— Voted unanimously to appoint James DeMideo as the modified wresting coach and Nicole Bouvier as the junior varsity winter cheerleading coach;

— Voted unanimously to appoint Steve Suriano as the middle school drama club director;

— Voted unanimously to waive a transportation fee for St. Matthew’s Church to take children from the church to the Adirondack Center near Amsterdam, N.Y. for a retreat since the church has allowed the school to use its space for several functions;

— Voted unanimously to participate in the New York School and Municipal Energy Consortium for electricity supply through April 30, 2012;

— Voted unanimously to approve the service agreement with Benetech, Inc. for third-party administrative support of the district’s 403(b) retirement plan for 2010 for $25 per participant;

— Voted unanimously to approve a field trip to the Liberty Science Museum in Jersey City, N.J. and a King Tut exhibit in New York City for the sixth grade at a cost of $68 per student, and a field trip to the Chelsea Gallery in New York City for the art portfolio class at a cost of $46 per student;

— Voted unanimously to accept a letter of intent to retire from Judith Hundemann, a speech-language pathologist, who worked for the district for 12 years;

— Voted unanimously to accept elementary school teacher Carrie Nowik’s request for unpaid parental leave until June 30, 2010 and appointed Tracy Stryker as a long-term substitute;

— Voted unanimously to change the custodian of the $100 petty cash fund from Kristy Therrien to Michelle Moss;

— Heard from Assistant Superintendent for Business Sarita Winchell that the long-struggling school lunch program has recently been making a small profit;

— Heard from board member James Coffin, who sits on the facilities committee, that the district will face about a half-million dollars in repair projects, mostly dealing with drainage, sidewalks at the elementary school, and driveway deterioration;

— Voted unanimously to approve the first reading of the district’s policy on student personal expression;

— Voted unanimously to change the health-insurance coverage for the Voorheesville Teachers’ Association and the United Employees of Voorheesville from a health maintenance organization to an exclusive provider organization;

— Voted unanimously to accept a donation of $200 from the Parent Teacher Association for the principal’s discretionary fund;

— Voted unanimously to accept a donation of $3,076.20 to establish the Robert Streifer Foreign Language Scholarship Fund;

— Heard a presentation from Rochelle Soloway, Karen Conroy, and Thomas Reardon about the an elementary school literacy program;

— Voted unanimously to accept the resignation of Kristy Therrien, an elementary school secretary, and to appoint Michelle Moss as secretary;

— Voted unanimously to appoint Sabrina Skotarczak as a long-term substitute in special education and Christine Allard as a substitute bus driver;

— Voted unanimously to appoint Erin Upson as the advisor to the art club and Jean Mackay as the advisor to the Odyssey of the Mind;

— Voted unanimously to approve a contract with Advanced Therapy for therapy services from Nov. 10, 2009 to March 30, 2010 at a cost of $6,600;

— Voted unanimously to approve membership in the New York State School Boards Association for 2010 at a cost of $7,365;

— Voted unanimously to approve a trip for Thomas Gladd, Brian Stumbaugh, Mary Anne Milano, and Timothy Mattison to the Association for Computers and Technologies in Education conference at the Riverside Convention Center in Rochester with costs for registration of $165 per person and lodging of $112 per night; and

— Voted unanimously to approve a trip for Theresa Luyckx and Sandra Vorse to the Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance conference to be held at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino from Nov. 18 to Nov. 21 with costs for registration of $160 per person and lodging of $119 per night.

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