School Board Meeting Summary for Oct. 24, 2017

New Board Member Brian Backus

Brian Backus took the oath of office for Board service following his election on Oct. 10.

Board Member Recognition

This week is School Board Recognition Week in New York. As is Niskayuna tradition, books are being donated to each Library Media Center in recognition of the Board member that serves as the school liaison. Each Board member also received a commemorative frame inscribed with the district’s Latin motto and featuring a description of the district crest. “We certainly know you give part of yourself and leave part of yourself to be leaders in our community and advance teaching and learning,” Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra said. “We thank you for your service.”

Student Representatives Report

A bake sale and coin drive at the high school to benefit hurricane relief efforts have raised more than $1,000. Student Congress is planning to work with other grade levels and schools to continue to help those affected.

At last week’s Student Forum at Niskayuna High School, there was a discussion about recent issues surrounding the National Anthem. There was some talk of having a forum, similar to one recently held at Union College, to allow for views to be shared in a constructive manner. A subcommittee of the district’s Environment and Culture Advisory Council (ECAC) is going to be discussing the idea.

Hiring Procedures

Director of Student and Staff Support Services Deborah Marriott shared a series of documents designed to strengthen the hiring process and provide clarity on some positions that contain special requirements. There is a new Instructional/Professional Employment Application and General Employment Application that will provide the district with the critical information it needs when it is filling a position. New information sheets provide detailed guidance for prospective bus drivers, teaching assistants and coaches. All of the documents are posted on the district website.

There was a discussion about strategies that are being used in higher education and elsewhere to increase workforce diversity. Dr. Tangorra mentioned that a forthcoming recommendation from the ongoing work in this area would be that the district hire a Chief Diversity Officer.

Board Procedures – Part II

The Board is developing a comprehensive set of procedures to help guide its operations and be a resource for members. Draft procedures for Team Development, Planning, and Personnel were on the agenda for an initial review.

Board Policy

As part of its ongoing transition to a new policy manual, the Board is reviewing policies at each meeting. The following policies were adopted and their predecessors from the previous manual were repealed: Policy 4240 Evaluation of the Superintendent and Other Administrative Staff; 6130 Evaluation of Personnel; Policy 8110 Curriculum Development, Resources and Evaluation.

Review of Policy 5692 HIV Related Illnesses and Policy 8211 Prevention Instruction, which essentially reiterate legal requirements, was tabled.

Consent Agenda

The Consent Agenda was approved. Separate discussions were held about the declaration of surplus equipment to be sold and athletic trainer services. These two items were also approved. More information will be provided at a subsequent meeting about the coverage provided by the athletic trainer.

Board Member Report

The recent conference of the New York State School Boards Association provided Board members with valuable information and training.

Brian Backus will be the Board member liaison to Birchwood Elementary School.

Superintendent’s Report

Advisory Councils – The next meeting of the Environment and Culture Advisory Council (ECAC) is Oct. 30 and the next meeting of the Instructional Program Advisory Council (IPAC) is Nov. 1.

Shared Services – Niskayuna, Capital Region BOCES and neighboring districts involved in the regional shared transportation services initiative were recently awarded the Erastus Corning Award for Intermunicipal Cooperation by the Capital District Regional Planning Commission. Dr. Tangorra credited former Interim Superintendent John Yagielski for starting the regional transportation initiative during his time with the district.

Transportation Follow-Up – Dr. Tangorra provided some data from the Transportation Department. A high school bus route and a Birchwood route have been adjusted since the start of the year so that their arrival time is slightly later. High school buses arrive between 7:10 and 7:15 a.m. Elementary buses arrive between 7:40 a.m. and 7:45 a.m. and middle school buses arrive between 8:40 and 8:45 a.m. The longest run for the high school and middle school levels is one hour and the longest elementary level run is one hour and five minutes, which includes transportation outside of a student’s home zone.