Oil Found In Ground At Bus Garage
At the December 13 meeting of the New Lebanon School Board, Business Manager Kevin Fottrell said crews doing some test drilling at the bus garage detected a smell of oil about four feet down from the surface. Some oil has apparently spilled into the ground there. This had happened the day before the meeting. DEC was called immediately to alert them, but further investigation had not happened yet to determine the extent of the leakage or what it might cost to clean it up.
Fottrell also had some good news – engineers working on the Capital Project have inspected cracks in the masonry at the High School building and found that they are not significant or extensive, and will not be expensive to repair.
Fottrell also submitted to the Board a school tax report showing that $694,644.50 remains uncollected of the $8,422,589 school tax levy. The taxes that remain uncollected now will be paid by the County and the County will seek to collect them from the property owners.
The Board discussed budget goals for the coming year with Superintendent Whitcomb, and came up with some fairly simple goals, similar to those of last year: stay within the tax cap, maintain quality programs and facilities, and meet all mandated requirements.
WBH Vision Statement
Walter B Howard Elementary Principal Andrew Kourt said he and his staff have completed the collaborative process of writing a vision statement and they have all agreed on this goal: “A community that fosters hope, resilience, lifelong learning, and gives all students the opportunity to succeed.”
Kourt also said the WBH Craft Fair was a huge success, and it raised $2,600 for the PTA.
The District’s Communication Specialist Kristin LaPlante spoke to the Board about her work. This is LaPlante’s third year working for the District. She works two days a week, on Tuesday and Thursday. She writes news for the web site and for press releases, and puts out the District’s newsletters, which this year will be a fall newsletter and a budget newsletter in the spring.
LaPlante said the national organization for her industry gave its highest award to the District for last spring’s budget newsletter, and awards were also given for the Capital Project video she did last year, and for the website.
High School Principal Matthew Klafehn said the State is planning to implement new learning standards (the Common Core is no more, said he) by September of 2020. He said from what he has seen so far, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of change in the standards for English (which educators call ELA), but there are changes coming in the Math curriculum.
Both Principals discussed with the Board methods for communication with parents. There are, of course, the old standbys – parent-teacher conferences, phone calls home, and notes sent home with the student. But these are infrequent, and teachers are seeking a method for day to day communications with parents. There is a parent portal with ability to create a customized website access point, but Principal Klafehn said 60% of the parents have not logged on to their parent portal. Both principals mentioned the school’s Facebook account which Klafehn said is widely used and has a lot of traffic, and Kourt described as “a huge communication tool.” But teachers are seeking online communications more specific to their particular classroom. Klafehn said many of the high school teachers are using Google Classroom, and Kourt said most of his teachers are using an online tool called “Class Dojo.”
Both principals said they believe successful communication and collaboration with parents is a key to a successful school.
In other business, the Board:
• Accepted a donation of $300 from the NLHS Alumni Association for the library, and a donation of $200 from Joe and Carol Darcy for the High School Library’s “Read For the Record” contest.
• Appointed coaches: Art Schmich for Boys Varsity Baseball; Aaron Kanofsky and Jim VanEss for Track; Melissa Cook for Girls Varsity Softball; Brittany DiPalma and Megan Darcy for Girls Modified Softball; Lenny Brown for Boys Modified Baseball, and Adriana Rizzo as a volunteer swim coach.
• Approved excessing some old cameras and darkroom equipment because New Lebanon no longer offers a darkroom/photography class.
The Board went into executive session at the end of the meeting to discuss “the employment history of a particular employee.”