School Board Meeting Summary for Nov. 14, 2017

Student Representative Report

Student representatives reported on the Suburban Council Leadership Conference, the Boys Cross Country and Girls Swim & Dive sectional championships, and the NCAA Letter of Intent signing ceremony, and referenced the new Library Media Center sign-in procedures. Upcoming presentations for students included an assembly with City Mission of Schenectady Executive Director Mike Saccocio on Nov. 17 and a visit from Foreign Service Officer Seth Wyngowski (Niskayuna High School Class of 2008) on Nov. 20.

Flex Zone Report

Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra, Jr. shared the annual report on the implementation of the elementary flex zones. The zones are being phased-in with each entering kindergarten class; they are in effect for the current kindergarten, first and second grade classes. They have helped balance kindergarten class sizes across the district as intended. There was a discussion about investigating academic performance in the context of class size and the flex zones in the future, as well as surveying families who have gone through the flex zone process.

Dr. Tangorra also shared some historical enrollment data: Current enrollment is listed at 4,258 students in grades K-12. Five years ago there were 4,158 students and 10 years ago there were 4,281 students in the district.

Food Service Report

Director of Business and Finance Carrie Nyc-Chevrier shared a food service report. She noted that the department operated at a loss last year due to challenges that included a staffing shortage and equipment failures. The department is implementing new inventory controls and has rejoined the National School Lunch Program, which will generate revenue through federal reimbursements. The food cart at the high school is open again this year, which will also help. While it is not atypical for a school food service program to operate at a loss, there was a discussion about the importance of improving the fiscal position and cafeteria offerings, as well as other procedural and policy matters. The administration will present a status report on the program at a future meeting.

Audits and Corrective Action Plans

The Board accepted the Extraclassroom Activities Fund Corrective Action plan, which was the result of the annual independent audit in this area. The plan includes strengthened processes and procedures, including training, that are being implemented this year.

The Board also accepted the Title IX internal audit and corrective action plan. There was a discussion about more detailed tracking of materials and supplies for boys and girls teams in the future.


Dr. Tangorra provided an update on the Instructional Program Advisory Council (IPAC) and the Environment and Culture Advisory Council (ECAC). Subcommittee work is moving forward within each advisory council. Both IPAC and ECAC have meetings scheduled for the first week of December. Dr. Tangorra also shared these specific updates:

Diversity Initiative: Letters have gone out to families seeking student participation in the diversity video that will be filmed in December. There was a discussion about the response thus far and generating additional participation.

Enrollment study: The district enrollment projection and building capacity studies have been completed by Dr. Paul Seversky and are ready for public review. They are posted on the website. Dr. Seversky expects to meet with the IPAC Enrollment Study and School Configuration subcommittee again in December, and the studies will be presented in greater detail at a future Board meeting. The district is interested in any thoughts or questions that members of the school community have in response to the documents. Anyone who would like to provide feedback is invited to use the e-mail address

Board Procedures Part II

The Board is developing a comprehensive set of procedures to guide its operations and be a resource for members. A second series of procedures, covering Team Development, Planning, and Personnel, were adopted.

Board Policy Review

As part of its ongoing transition to a new policy manual, the Board is reviewing policies at each meeting. The Board repealed a series of policies for that are either redundant because they are part of the law or better addressed by existing procedures or practice. First reads were conducted for Policy 7521 Students with Life Threatening Health Conditions and Policy 7513 Administration of Medication.

Board Member Report

A recent Niskayuna Community Action Program (N-CAP) meeting included a discussion about the need for more parent involvement, including from the younger grade levels, to sustain N-CAP activities. It was noted that N-CAP is a vital community organization with a focus that extends beyond the important work of combating drug and alcohol abuse.

Based on a conversation at a recent meeting, the Education Enrichment Fund (EEF) is seeking to work with the district to identify its next steps.

Superintendent’s Report

Dr. Tangorra reported that the district’s architects have developed a plan for potential renovations to the Nisk-Art Gallery, as well as what improvements to the high school athletic complex that also address parking and traffic flow could look like.

Dr. Tangorra recently met with an individual who offered to videotape the Board’s meetings for a fee. There was a general discussion about this concept and no decisions were made.

Dr. Tangorra is continuing to gather information to send to the district’s attorneys so that they can assess the potential for a claim regarding the high school geothermal system.

As a follow-up to a recent meeting, Dr. Tangorra shared information about the number of hours the Athletic Department is able to have a trainer on-site. It was noted that this is lower than some area districts and may be something that should increase in the future.

New District Treasurer Jamie Maloney was appointed at the meeting and will begin in the district on Dec. 4. Board members will be able to meet Jamie at the Audit Committee meeting on Dec. 7.

Additional Meeting Details

  • The Board approved modest adjustments to the district’s agreement with the International Wisdom Educational Group to clarify expenses and the holiday schedule.
  • Congratulations to Teaching Assistant Laura Biaglow, who was approved for tenure.
  • The Consent Agenda was approved.
  • Personnel actions included approval for a series of volunteer coaches. This formalizes the process of approving volunteer coaches who are either teachers or in the process of meeting the requirements to become a coach.