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Niskayuna Schools > Board of Education > Board Meeting Summary

Board of Education Meeting Summary

October 26, 2015


Welcome to our new teachers!
Prior to the meeting, a reception was held to officially welcome our new teachers to the district. School principals introduced their new faculty members. This is the largest group of new teachers in some time. Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra, Jr., congratulated them and noted that both he and they made a good choice in coming to Niskayuna. Welcome!

Thanks to our School Board!
It is School Board Recognition Week in New York. The reception before the meeting also included a thank you to board members for their volunteer service to our community and children. In keeping with Niskayuna tradition, new books are going into the libraries of each school in the name of the school board member who serves as its school liaison for this year.

Board Member Reports
Since the last meeting, Board members attended recent PTO meetings, an Education Enrichment Fund meeting, fall athletic events, school social events, the high school PTO craft fair, required training and the New York State School Boards Association's annual convention. Board member reports also included the following:

  • Last week, Iroquois had the honor of hosting Susanne Gervay, the Australian author of the well-known I am Jack series, which has a strong character education/anti-bullying theme.
  • The successful pep rally held at the high school on October 16 was made possible by the efforts of many people, especially students that are part of The Warrior Project and Pep Club, along with our school leaders and club advisors, N-CAP and others.
  • Congratulations to Niskayuna High School junior Larissa Vassolas on her debut film "After Image," which was named a finalist in the 15 Minutes Max Student Film Festival in Albany in early October.
  • Welcome to our World Language Department exchange partners from Carcassonne, France. The students and teachers arrived last week and will be here through this Friday. This is the high school's fourth exchange with the school, which will continue in April when Niskayuna students travel to France.
  • The annual New York State School Boards Conference held October 18-20 was very informative. Additionally, Board President Pat Lanotte and Capital Region BOCES District Superintendent Chuck Dedrick did a great job presenting to school board members from around the state about the district's superintendent search process last year.
  • Following the October 10 strategic planning session, Board members are continuing to work in subgroups on items related to the process.
  • Noah Rohde, student representative to the Board, said that he has initiated a conversation with the Technology Department about the possibility of establishing student e-mail addresses.


Education Enrichment Fund
A letter from the Education Enrichment Fund (EEF) to the community last month generated 15 individuals interested in serving on its Advisory Committee. These people will bring a wealth of skills and experience to the EEF as it moves forward. The EEF expects to solicit requests for funding in the coming weeks and award its first grants to Niskayuna educators early in 2016. The EEF is a fund within the Niskayuna Community Foundation, an affiliate of the Community Foundation of the Greater Capital Region. Prior to formally appointing the slate of advisory committee members, the district will clarify its role with regard to the EEF.

Solar Energy
As part of the ongoing Building Condition Survey - a districtwide assessment of facility needs - architects will examine the feasibility of installing solar panels at district schools and the Hillside Avenue facility. This follows up on information shared at the recent school boards conference about programs that help schools benefit from solar power, including the potential for energy cost savings and selling power back to the grid.

School Culture Conversation
Dr. Tangorra said that a recent forum with high school students included some discussion about whether counselor caseloads make it difficult for students, particularly underclassman, to receive the level of college and career counseling they need. There was also some conversation about students feeling a level of stress and pressure to excel at the expense of being engaged in learning or taking courses they are interested in. Dr. Tangorra said he wants to pay close attention to these issues and broaden the dialogue in partnership with the new student representatives to the Board, school administrators and others.

Rexford Bridge
Transportation Director Bill Garrison attended the recent community meeting about the state's Rexford Bridge replacement project to learn about any impact it might have on bus routes or even school schedules. Dr. Tangorra followed up with the construction manager, who told him that it should not cause any delays. The district will continue to stay attuned to the project and consider what adjustments might be needed if it impacts student transportation.

Afterschool Security Monitor at NHS
The Board approved a part-time, afterschool security monitor position for Niskayuna High School, where it is quite busy in the afternoon and evening hours. The person who ultimately fills this position will be expected to build relationships with coaches, club advisors, students, school leaders, custodians and police, serving as a resource for all.

Additional Meeting Actions

  • The consent agenda was approved.
  • The Board approved the submission of the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) plan for 2015-16 to the State Department of Education.
  • The Board approved insurance coverage for the following groups: PTO Council; each school's PTO, Niskayuna Booster Club, Niskayuna Friends of Music, and Friends of Niskayuna Rowing. The district has worked with each group to ensure better coordination, which is important for insurance/legal purposes and the strength of the partnerships.
  • The Board approved an updated Athletic Coaches Handbook.


Policy Review
The Board is reviewing policies at each meeting as it transitions to a new policy manual. The following were approved:

  • Policy 5672 Information Security Breach and Notification
  • Policy 5673 Employee Personal Identifying Information
  • Policy 5682 Cardiac Automated External Defibrillators in Public School Facilities
  • Policy 5741 Drug and Alcohol Testing for School Bus Drivers and other Safety Sensitive Employees
  • Policy 8250 Animals in the School (Instructional Purposes)


A "first reading" was conducted for the following policies, which means they are under review and expected to be adopted at the next meeting:

  • Policy 6170 Safety of Students (Fingerprinting Clearance of New Hires)
  • Policy 6551 Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Policy 7211 Provision of Interpreter Services to Parents who are Hearing Impaired
  • Policy 7222 Diploma and/or Credential Options for Students with Disabilities (access to high school diploma)