Welcome to our new teachers!
Prior to the meeting, a reception was held to officially welcome our new teachers to the district. School principals introduced their new faculty members. This is the largest group of new teachers in some time. Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra, Jr., congratulated them and noted that both he and they made a good choice in coming to Niskayuna. Welcome!
Thanks to our School Board!
It is School Board Recognition Week in New York. The reception before the meeting also included a thank you to board members for their volunteer service to our community and children. In keeping with Niskayuna tradition, new books are going into the libraries of each school in the name of the school board member who serves as its school liaison for this year.
Board Member Reports
Since the last meeting, Board members attended recent PTO meetings, an Education Enrichment Fund meeting, fall athletic events, school social events, the high school PTO craft fair, required training and the New York State School Boards Association's annual convention. Board member reports also included the following:
Education Enrichment Fund
A letter from the Education Enrichment Fund (EEF) to the community last month generated 15 individuals interested in serving on its Advisory Committee. These people will bring a wealth of skills and experience to the EEF as it moves forward. The EEF expects to solicit requests for funding in the coming weeks and award its first grants to Niskayuna educators early in 2016. The EEF is a fund within the Niskayuna Community Foundation, an affiliate of the Community Foundation of the Greater Capital Region. Prior to formally appointing the slate of advisory committee members, the district will clarify its role with regard to the EEF.
As part of the ongoing Building Condition Survey - a districtwide assessment of facility needs - architects will examine the feasibility of installing solar panels at district schools and the Hillside Avenue facility. This follows up on information shared at the recent school boards conference about programs that help schools benefit from solar power, including the potential for energy cost savings and selling power back to the grid.
School Culture Conversation
Dr. Tangorra said that a recent forum with high school students included some discussion about whether counselor caseloads make it difficult for students, particularly underclassman, to receive the level of college and career counseling they need. There was also some conversation about students feeling a level of stress and pressure to excel at the expense of being engaged in learning or taking courses they are interested in. Dr. Tangorra said he wants to pay close attention to these issues and broaden the dialogue in partnership with the new student representatives to the Board, school administrators and others.
Transportation Director Bill Garrison attended the recent community meeting about the state's Rexford Bridge replacement project to learn about any impact it might have on bus routes or even school schedules. Dr. Tangorra followed up with the construction manager, who told him that it should not cause any delays. The district will continue to stay attuned to the project and consider what adjustments might be needed if it impacts student transportation.
Afterschool Security Monitor at NHS
The Board approved a part-time, afterschool security monitor position for Niskayuna High School, where it is quite busy in the afternoon and evening hours. The person who ultimately fills this position will be expected to build relationships with coaches, club advisors, students, school leaders, custodians and police, serving as a resource for all.
Additional Meeting Actions
The Board is reviewing policies at each meeting as it transitions to a new policy manual. The following were approved:
A "first reading" was conducted for the following policies, which means they are under review and expected to be adopted at the next meeting: