The January 29, 2014 meeting of the Williamson Central School District Board of Education opened with the Pledge of Allegiance and a moment of silence.
School Business Administrator Gary Barno began with a budget presentation regarding the proposed budget for the 2014-2015 school year. He commented that while the governor’s office is reporting an increase in overall education aid in the state budget, many of those funds are designated to specific grants and programs for which Williamson will not benefit from. In fact, there is little or no increase in actual state aid for Williamson and most area school districts. He reported that the budget process is beginning with a shortfall of a million dollars and that the tax cap this year is less than 1.5%. The result of less aid, a lower tax cap than last year and rising costs will mean another year of significant budget cuts. The goal of the board and the district will be to cut in a way that programs or positions eliminated could be restored when the financial situation improves again. It is becoming increasingly difficult to make reductions that will not have an impact on the overall quality of education offered in Williamson. Mr. Barno reported that the district has already made mid-year budgetary cuts during the 2013-2014 school year by reducing positions, bringing a special education class back to the district and cutting material and supplies spending. The next budget update will be presented at the February 26th Board meeting.
Ali Henderson, Student Representative, reported that the National Honor Society will hold their induction ceremony for ten students. The NHS completed their recent food drive and collected over 1,001 cans of food to donate to the local food bank. Ali reported that the new semester will begin on Monday and the students will have the annual Snowball semi-formal dance in February. Under reports from the District Administrators, Wendy Havens highlighted the contributions and efforts made by Karen Hoody, John Fulmer, Doug Lauf and Jessica Burggraaff to acquire the necessary materials for the Common Core early literacy and skills modules for the Elementary School. Ellen Saxby reported that the building has been getting ready for the new class that is returning to the district. She thanked Terry Pulver, Don Ray, and Kent Snyder for working quickly to make the structural changes necessary. She also thanked Karen Hoody, Joselyn Steurrys, Anthea Perry and DeeDee Eaton for their work to prepare the materials in order for class to begin next week. She also reported that due to the staffing shifts, Nancy Shay will be a part of the elementary school staff in addition to working at the high school. She highlighted the day custodian Dave Ochs for his dedication to keeping the sidewalks clear and the nine individuals – Kathy Salitan, Shannon Wrights, DeeDee Eaton, Christi Graves, Nancy DeFranco, Dan Schoonerman, Bill Mitchell, Ian Thomas, and Nina Barber – who monitor the bus circle during arrival and dismissal each day, especially during the winter months. Wanda Miller introduced Joshua Faulks and his parents. Joshua is the first student recipient of the Diann Roffe Award. She read the resolution as approved by the Williamson Town Board on January 14, 2014. The award recognizes individuals who, by their persistence and enthusiasm, inspire others to overcome difficulties. John Fulmer highlighted Rich Rozzi and Sue Collins for their work on the 5th grade research project. He also mentioned Joan Miller, retired Williamson teacher, who is now a sub and highlighted her enthusiasm as a substitute teacher. He recognized several high school students – Ana Kostakis, Matt Sperr, Paula Aguilera, Tori Mason, Tom Ferland, Bennett Schoonerman, Katy Kolyer, and Hunter Secor – who came to the middle school for an Olweus anti-bullying presentation. The students did a wonderful job speaking to the 7th and 8th grade students. Gary Barno announced that the district will receive $2,500 from America’s Farmers Grow Communities. David & Gretchen Craft of Williamson submitted the nomination. He reported that details for how the funds will be used and a presentation ceremony are being finalized. Superintendent Macaluso reported that two high school students – Matthew DeMarree and Diana illiamson Central Cervantes-Nava received the Wayne Action for Racial Equality Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Student Service Award. He announced that he will begin visiting buildings on a more regular basis now that his “getting to know you meetings” are done. He will conduct drop in and scheduled full lesson observations. He expressed his appreciation to Tom Schulte for covering the high school in Doug Lauf’s absence and commented on the good job that he has done. He provided updates to the board on the CTE and Legislative committee meetings.
Under board reports, it was announced that the Building & Grounds Committee meeting has been changed to February 26. Other updates included information on the PTSA meeting, the recent Masterminds competition and the Parent Curriculum Night. The High School Spotlight focused on the reduction in discipline numbers at the high school. Tom Schulte presented information to the board that shows a dramatic drop in the number of discipline cases since last year. Excessive tardiness remains the number one discipline issue, but there has been a 67% drop in overall discipline referrals compared to the same period last year. He also highlighted changes that have been made to the study hall this year with an increased focus on creating a collaborative environment that fosters work. Deanna Orr has created areas within the room that offer students information on college and career opportunities. The board reviewed the Quarterly Academic Achievement Report.
The board approved the CSE Case Summaries. Under the consent agenda, the board accepted the resignation of Titus Wilson, Cleaner, Middle School, effective January 21, 2014 and Carla Williams, Student Aide, effective January 17, 2014. The board approved the appointments of several classified substitutes, teacher substitutes, and volunteers as well as approved the following personnel actions:
• Brianne Raes, as a .5 long-term substitute teacher for Amy Vandergrift, .5 Special Education teacher, effective January 30, 2014 through the remainder of the 2013-2014 School Year
• Extra-Curricular appointment of Phyllis Stookey, Response to Intervention (RTI) Facilitator, Middle School for the remainder of the 2013-2014 school year at a pro-rated stipend
• Traveling teacher stipend according to the terms of the WFA contract for Nancy Shay for the second semester beginning February 3, 2014
• Unpaid Leave of Absence for Martha Buddendeck, long-term substitute Guidance Counselor High School, for April 21-22, 2014
• Unpaid Leave of Absence for Julia Leaty, full-time Bus Driver, for February 12-14, 2014
• Unpaid Leave of Absence for Manuela Noble, ELL teacher, Elementary School, for March 28, 2014
• Stipend of $1,575 for Dan Schoonerman, Physical Education Teacher, Elementary School for an additional duty for the remainder of the 2013-2014 school year
Under New Business the board approved the first reading of Policy 8520 – Committee on Special Education/Committee on Preschool Education and the first reading of the Resolution Agreement for Williamson Central School District OCR Case No. 02-11-1209. In addition the board approved the following action items:
• The 2012-2013 Extra Classroom Activities Fund Audit Corrective Action Plan
• A donation of $2,990 from the PTSA for the purchase of iPads for the Williamson Elementary School
• A donation of $300 from the PTSA to support the Square Dancing program for the Williamson Middle School
• Resolution for Lead Evaluators for Teachers
The Board discussed the recent authority of schools to grant a Veterans property tax exemption that has been available for other municipalities for several years. Mr. Barno and Dr. Macaluso explained that if the district were to approve the exemption it would result in a shift of the tax burden from those who qualify for exemptions to those who do not. There would also be a potential loss in STAR revenue. The Board of Education feels that its responsibility is to the community as a whole and does not believe that granting the exemption would demonstrate fiscal responsibility. The Board recognizes the sacrifice and commitment made by the veterans that live in our community and will reconsider this option should the fiscal environment improve.