A Gift for the Football Program and Audit Results
By Alex Brooks
Near the beginning of the Hoosick Falls School Board meeting on September 21, Emil Baker of the Big Moose Deli spoke to the Board, touching on his store, and the Veterans that he hires to run it, and how impressed he is by the Hoosick community. He said he wants to give back to the community that has hosted his store for all these years. Baker made a $5,000 donation to the School District, of which $2,000 was dedicated to the football program. Baker also presented a check for $1,000 to the Hoosick Falls Youth football program, which was received by Youth Football President Chris Glover. Glover said Baker has made a whole series of donations to the Youth Football program in the last year and a half. First he helped them pay their insurance bill in May of 2016 to the tune of about $2,000, then he provided a storage shed the program needed, then he provided a refrigerator and a freezer, and now this latest donation. Glover was very thankful to Baker, who has been an extraordinary supporter of the Youth Football program.
Baker said his support for local football was inspired by the experiences of his store manager Michael Poore, who played football at HFCS years ago.
Heather Mowat from the Bonadio Group presented the results of her firm’s recent audit of the District’s finances. She said the audit presents an “unmodified” opinion, which is the highest endorsement it can offer of the District’s financial practices. There were no “material weaknesses,” and no deficiencies in the financial management of the District. School Board President Greg Laurin noted although accountants use strange and specialized language, the simple way to describe it is that “this is the best you can do” in an audit report. The audit was not released to the public yet because the final version is not ready, but Superintendent Facin said the District will put the audit on its website as soon as the final version is ready.
Science teacher Deb Mabey and Spanish Teacher Margaret Sharkey made a presentation about a trip to Puerto Rico for Spring 2019. The trip will combine scientific field trips with language learning and service learning, as the students will help to build houses as part of their trip. The Board enthusiastically approved the trip.
Superintendent Ken Facin announced the world premiere of the documentary film made by students at the Hoosick Falls Central School will be on Wednesday evening October 11 at 7 pm in the HFCS auditorium. The film is about the Hoosick Falls community and what makes it special. 75 interviews were filmed that went into the movie.
Facin also mentioned that the Senior Class decided to make their first service project a makeover for the Youth Center, and the class put in many hours cleaning and painting and making improvements at the Youth Center, which is looking lot spiffier than it did a week ago. The Youth Center Board was very pleased with the help from the students, and two TV stations came out to do stories about the project. Links to the TV segments are available on the School district’s web site.
The Open House about the Capital Project was held at the school the same evening as the Board Meeting. Facin reported that only two people showed up for that event. He said that’s OK, he knows people are busy. He again offered to meet with or talk by telephone with anyone who feels they need more information about the project.
Facin repeated at the Board meeting the reasons that the District needs this project and why now is the right time to do it.
He said all of the needs that the Capital Project takes care of were identified in the most recent Building Condition Survey. All school districts must do such a survey every five years and make a plan for how to deal with deficiencies in the buildings. The needs are a heating system and bathrooms that for the most part date back to the original 1961 building. The bathrooms will be all new and handicapped accessible. A new modern heating system will make the place more comfortable and less expensive to heat. There is some asbestos abatement that needs to take place, and while the ceilings are out is the best time to run new wires, so that the building’s technology can be updated to provide a 21st century educational environment. On a similar theme, antiquated science rooms need to be updated to keep the school’s science programs where they need to be. All of this he calls “an investment in our kids.”
Facin said the District has done a lot of outreach to the community to gauge public sentiment about this, and he summarized the message he received from the community as “address your building issues, but keep the cost down.” He said although building renovation is expensive, the District has arranged this project so as to have a very small impact on the taxpayers.
The combination of 80% state aid on the project, with 3 to 4 million dollars that the District has set aside to offset the impact of the project, a $1 million technology grant, currently low interest rates, and some previous capital projects being paid off in the next few years allows the District to get a lot done with little impact on the taxpayers. Facin said, “We want to provide the best learning environment we can,” and still hold the line on taxes.