Message from the Superintendent regarding the May 7 Board meeting

To Our School Community:

You may be aware that at the Board of Education meeting on Tuesday evening, representatives of several employee bargaining units shared some concerns about the district. In light of this and an article about it in today’s newspaper, it is important that our school community hears from me directly and knows that I have also reached out to all faculty and staff members with a message similar to this one.

I value the immense contributions that our employees make to our district and the lives of our students. I know how much pride they take in the work that they do – and they are right to do so.

I emphasized to our employees that when there are issues or concerns, I am interested in hearing them and working together to address them. What I heard on Tuesday is that people do not feel heard and believe there is a lack of responsiveness and collaboration. I take responsibility for my part in this. I will address this, starting by meeting with employee group members to listen to concerns and talk about if there are ways to enhance two-way communication and collaboration.

By way of clarification for our community, in the last two years, we have reached contract agreements with four of the five employee bargaining units represented at the meeting. Negotiations with the fifth recently began. As always, we are committed to agreements that are fair to all stakeholders. Beyond the negotiating process, we meet regularly with employee group representatives.

Organizations of all types and sizes are struggling to keep pace with a rapidly changing society. Schools, in particular, have been challenged by the growing needs of children. We have embarked on a plan to support our students, advance our programs, and ensure the fiscal sustainability of the school district.

I do want to re-emphasize our commitment to safety, in particular. We have implemented a number of measures to address safety in our schools and on our grounds, while recognizing that some longer-term projects will need to be included in the more comprehensive capital project that its currently being planned.

In my note to staff, I reaffirmed my commitment to effectively utilizing existing channels of communication and understanding if new ones are needed.

I am focused on ensuring the Niskayuna Central School District is an organization that is forward-looking, at the forefront of teaching and learning, an effective steward of taxpayer dollars, and focused squarely on our students. I believe that across all stakeholder groups there is much common ground on these areas and that by working together we can sustain and enhance the excellent education we provide the young people of our community.

If you have any questions or concerns, I invite you to contact me at any time. Thank you for your attention to this information and ongoing partnership.

Cosimo Tangorra, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools