Last Meeting For Laurin And Gormley
By Alex Brooks
The Hoosick Falls School Board meeting held on June14 was the last for School Board President Greg Laurin and School Board member Laurie Gormley, who have both put in many years of School Board service. Superintendent Ken Facin said a few words of appreciation about each of them towards the beginning of the meeting. Of Gormley he noted her deep investment in the school and her growing involvement over the years as a parent, a PTA leader and finally as a School Board member. “We appreciate her steadiness and positive outlook in all Board matters,” and added that the school will miss this quality of her leadership when she is gone.
Facin presented a gavel as a parting gift to Laurin, who has presided over so many meeting sans gavel. Facin said Laurin runs meetings “in a wonderful way.” He said, “Greg doesn’t need a gavel to lead – he’s a natural leader.” Laurin has been involved with the School Board in various capacities for 20 years, and much of that time he has been the Board President.
A few minutes later John Helft added to the encomiums for the pair, saying, “Greg and Laurie came into leadership positions around here at a time of great chaos, and helped lead us to a better place. The thing that has most impressed me about them is that they always think about the students first.”
Gormley in her characteristic self-deprecating way, thanked those who had praised her and deflected attention to the new Board members coming in, saying she is looking forward to seeing the new leadership that will be provided by Emily Marpe and Maggie Kinney. Laurin thanked Facin for his kind words and hailed the partnership that he and Facin have had for these many years, and added, “and Pam Cottrell and I have worked together forever.” Choked with emotion at this point, he let it go at that, with characteristic succinctness.
Caitlin Boyd Graduation
The meeting began with a graduation ceremony for senior Caitlyn Boyd, who will be unable to attend the Hoosick Falls graduation ceremony because she will be representing New York State in the national competition of the Distinguished Young Women program (formerly known as America’s Junior Miss) in Mobile Alabama on the day of the Hoosick Falls graduation. That program was founded in 1958 as a way to reward the accomplishments of outstanding high school senior girls seeking to pursue higher education. Last year more than $1 billion in cash tuition and college granted scholarships were awarded to girls in this program nationally.
Caitlyn competed in the state program last summer in the categories of scholastic achievement, judges’ interview, talent, and physical fitness. She won the state competition in this program (which comes with a $5,000 scholarship) and earned the honor of representing New York State in the national competition next week.
Caitlyn walked up the aisle in her graduation finery, and presented roses to members of her family. Her diploma was presented by Ken Facin and Greg Laurin, who noted that she was 4th in her class for academic achievement, and Facin said they were very proud of her accomplishments. She plans to study Art Curation and Arts Management at the Rhode Island School of Design next year.
Superintendent Ken Facin said the State Comptroller will be doing an audit of the School’s finances this summer, which is something they do every five to seven years or so. He said it will be a big chore for the administration, but he is confident that all is in order under the steady hand of veteran Business Manager Pam Hatfield, as all recent internal audits have resulted in high praise for the District’s financial practices.
A consulting contract for Pam Hatfield was approved by the Board at this meeting for the period of time from July 5, 2018 through June 30, 2019, so she will be available as needed during the audit.
This was also Pam Hatfield’s last Board meeting as Business Manager. Hatfield said, “It’s been a great opportunity to work here. I’ve loved it here, and I am confident that I am leaving you in very capable hands.” She is, of course, referring to Emily Sanders, who will be taking over for her, who she knows well and has worked with for many years.
Need For GED Program
Ken Facin told the Board the District is going to need to establish an off-site GED program again. He said the District has done this before and it was quite successful. It was discontinued because it was no longer needed. “But now we need it again,” Facin said.
High School Principal Pat Dailey said there are about 7 kids at least who are candidates for a program of this kind, and maybe more. These are students who are not going to make it in the regular academic program – who have attendance issues, truancy issues, reading and math deficiencies.
Facin said, “Pat could just cut these kids loose, and we would never hear from them again, believe me – but we can give these kids another chance by creating an alternative program that has a vocational component. It’s about not giving up on kids who come through our doors.”
Facin said he would like to locate the program somewhere in the Village, because that’s where these kids are living. He said he has had preliminary discussions with some facilities in the Village, but nothing definite. He said he would like to hire a full-time teacher to do this.
Facin said the kids who are candidates for this program were agreeable about working in an unpaid internship, and he feels that some of the local tradesmen or employers could be powerful teachers for these students.
He said he thought getting these kids set up in a program where they have an achievable goal could make a huge difference in how their lives turn out, and it would also cut down on some of the mischief that has been going on in the school. Facin said, “I can’t have a student with 35 referrals running around this building selling vapes and so on.” In a K-12 building there is the possibility that these kids may be having an effect on the younger students.
The Board has been trying to implement a paperless workflow system for School Board business for several years and has had a few false starts. They now are going to sign up for a software program called “Board Docs” that is used by many other school boards in NY state, but the decision before the Board was whether to choose the “Pro” version or the “LT” version. The LT version is $2,700 per year, and the Pro version is $9,000 per year and has more features and capabilities. John Helft argued for the LT version, but just about all the other Board members were in favor of the Pro version, so Helft acquiesced. The system will be implemented this summer and will be in place for the upcoming school year.
Superintendent Ken Facin told the Board he is working on creating a series of free community workshops “to extend learning into the community and develop our relationship with the community.” The first few that he has in mind are a drone workshop using the District’s quad-copter drone, cooking classes taught by the district’s new Cafeteria Manager, and various computer classes, but he said there may be many more ideas as the program gets going.
Facin also said in his discussions with the new Cafeteria Manager he realized that there is a lot of paperwork involved. Since the Cafeteria usually has a surplus of funds (and the District has been cited by the Comptroller for having too much of a surplus, although they are not allowed to lower lunch prices) he suggested hiring someone to do clerical work, to be paid from cafeteria funds. He suggested that such a person could also help with B&G Superintendent Paul Baker’s paperwork. The Board was agreeable to the idea, but no action was taken.