HFCS Board Recognizes Academic Achievement
by Alex Brooks
The Hoosick Falls School Board meeting began with a recognition ceremony for high achieving students. High School Principal Steven Leunig gave certificates to students who maintained a cumulative average of 95 or better in the first grading period. District Superintendent Ken Facin emphasized that these students are not just doing well – their performance has been truly outstanding. (The names of the students on the Principal’s List were published in the December 5 Eastwick Press.)
Athletic Director Mike Lilac then gave certificates and T-shirts to the scholar-athletes. These are students who maintain an average of 90 or better while participating in a varsity sport. There were six scholar athletes on the golf team, and the highest average on that team was Ethan Myers. There were five on the football team, the highest average belonging to Kevin Woods. There were nine scholar-athletes on the field hockey team, Samantha Merwin having the highest average. There were six on the cheerleading team, the highest average held by Sarah Gleason. The girls soccer team had ten scholar athletes, and Carly Pine had the highest average. Boys soccer had four, led by Ben Taylor.
New York State gives awards for teams which have a high percentage of scholar athletes, and three of the Hoosick Falls teams won this award this fall – golf, field hockey and girls soccer.
The School District also gave an award to the neighbors at the school, Jack and Arlene Wysocki, for being so generous to the School District during the capital project, allowing heavy equipment to cross their land, dirt to be stored on it, etc. Superintendent Ken Facin expressed his great appreciation to them for being so helpful during the capital project.
When the regular business of the meeting began, it was on a far more somber note than that of the recognition ceremony that preceded it. Superintendent Facin said the Governor released his proposed budget today. After analyzing it, Facin said it would mean $551,000 less in State aid than this year. Facin said, “For us this is a significant sum of money, and it will have a significant impact on our school.” He said he has asked department heads to look carefully at their budgets to find ways to spend less money.
Facin noted that the budget released by the Governor is by no means a done deal; he predicted “a major battle” over school funding. So it is possible that the reduction in State aid will be less than the number in this budget. But prudence requires that the District prepare for a cut in State aid.
Facin’s report ended with an upbeat, can-do message, “We’re going to roll up our sleeves and take on this challenge.”
One thing working in the District’s favor is the cost of oil this year. Number 2 fuel oil has been purchased at an average cost of $2.20 per gallon in September and October while the budget for this year was based on a price of $5 per gallon. Similarly, the actual cost of diesel fuel has been $3.04 in the period from August to October, while the budget was based on a price of $5 per gallon.
HFCS Junior/Senior High School Chorus
Board President David Sutton said the Hoosick Falls Junior-Senior chorus will be performing on TV, as part of WMHT’s Music for the Holidays program, along with 18 other school choirs, Monday-Friday, December 22-26, from 5:30 to 6 pm and December 22-25 from 7:30 to 8 pm. The longer program will be shown Wednesday, December 24, from 2 to 4:30 pm and Thursday, December 25, from 10 am to 12:30 pm. The full broadcast schedule can be found at www.wmht.org/. Click on “Music For The Holidays.” A DVD of the program can also be purchased at the WMHT web site.
The Board approved a contract to have the New York State School Boards Association update the District’s policies and assemble them on a website where they are linked to the State law. The cost for this is $12,500, payable over two years, so the price per year for the first two years is $6,250. After that, if the District wants to keep the policies on-line it is $2,500 per year, and the update service is $700 per year, so if the District opts to keep going with this program, the cost will end up being $3,200 annually. The Board was thinking of this more as a cost savings than as a new cost because the policy committee currently uses quite a bit of the School Attorney’s time reviewing policy updates, and they believe this is currently costing more than NYSSBA’s fees.
The Board agreed to join a shared grant application led by the Berlin School District aimed at finding efficiencies and cost savings through cooperation of government entities. Superintendent Facin gave the example of buying tires – if several school districts and towns buy tires as a group, they would get a better price. He said he thought there are many other ways to save money by cooperating with other towns and school districts, and it is well worth studying. The cost to the District was not mentioned, but Facin said it is very small.
• Hoosick Falls Teachers Association President Karen Tommasino reported on the activities of the HFTA, which included holding a Christmas Party at Giuseppe’s Restaurant attended by 120 people and conducting a holiday food drive.
• The Board approved the appointment of Peter Nilsson as Network Technician for the District at an annual salary of $38,500. This is a new position.
• The Board approved renewing the contract for School Business Administrator Pamela Hatfield.
• The next regular meeting of the Hoosick Falls School Board will be on January 20 at 7 pm.