Hello everyone. I'm running to be a Member of the Board of Education. To put it briefly, the Newburgh School District BOE needs to focus on what's important: student achievement, fiscal stability, and communication. As a BOE Member I will work to see that these topics are addressed more often, in a more timely manner, and more effectively.
As part of the application process with the NECSD the district requested biographical information. There appears to be no information about the candidates on the NECSD website. Here is some brief bio information about me. Also, here is a letter from me which the Sentinel published this week.
Thank you for your continued interest in the Newburgh School District. I strongly encourage all district residents to vote for the BOE candidate or candidates of your choice on May 21. You have the option of voting for 0, 1, 2 or 3.
Public comments and questions start at about 25 minutes into the hearing. The question of what happens if the teachers' contract is not ratified came up twice. It was addressed most directly the second time at around 41 minutes or so.
At one point School District Attorney May said: "It's up to the voters to decide whether or not to approve that budget. And after that, then the Board will decide what it has to do."
Assistant Superintendent of Finance Pacella said: "It wouldn't be my recommendation to close a school to try to recover $1.9 million, so again as stated by Counsel, they would go back to the drawing board to find out how we can balance the budget if we don't have that $1.9 million savings." Pacella went on to explain that in the event of two budget vote defeats, a contingent budget would be required, and a school closure would probably be necessary.
There are seven candidates for the Newburgh School District Board of Education on the ballot for the May 21, 2013 Budget Vote and Election. Here they are in the order they will be on the ballot:
|John Eliadis||HOH parent and active volunteer.|
|Eric Motley||A parent in the district. Has run before.|
|R. Andrew Johnston||That's me. Will post more on this.|
|Susan Prokosch||Incumbent. Served since 2010.|
|Runston T. Lewis||Incumbent. Served many years on BOE.|
|Judith A. McAfee||Incumbent. On BOE since May 2007.|
|Nathan F. Vesley||Served on BOE 2009-2012.|
As I've done in past years, I'm happy to post candidate letters or links to candidate info websites.
I believe the Mid Hudson Times is working on an article for next week. They make the effort to get some information to the public about the candidates every year. It is excellent of them to do that.
Newburgh Teachers' Association members are voting today on the newly proposed contract. A trove of information about the contract is available at the NTA website. Eleven different contract related documents are linked at this page.
The proposed 2013-2014 NECSD Budget depends upon this new contract.
Noted on the NECSD Budget Page:
A Public Hearing on the Budget has been scheduled for Monday, May 13, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. in the Board of Education/Library Complex Auditorium, 124 Grand Street.
Videos are up for the April 23 BOE Workshop and the April 30 Newburgh School District BOE meeting. There is also an excerpt of comments by NTA President Plichta at the April 30 meeting.
At the Newburgh School District Special meeting this evening, Board President Fucheck and Superintendent Pizzo credited successful negotations with the Newburgh Teachers' Association with enabling a 2013-2014 budget which will not require any school closures and will include the current full day kindergarten program.
The Board agreed on school district and library budget proposals. No numbers were mentioned at the meeting, but those details should be available soon.
Video of the meeting is available on YouTube.
Among the Agenda Items for presentation at the Newburgh School District workshop meeting that will follow the Special Budget Meeting tonight is Resolution 043013L in which the Superintendent of Schools recommends that Matteo Doddo be appointed to the position of Executive High School Principal at NFA effective July 1. Also on the agenda, Resolution 043013M would appoint Charles R. Thomas to be Director of Newburgh Free Library.
There was a special meeting of the Newburgh School District Board of Education on Monday April 22 at 6PM at the Newburgh Free Academy main campus auditorium. The meeting was almost entirely public speakers commenting three minutes each on the 2013-2014 budget.
In response to the first speaker who challenged the Board about whether they were going to have any public discussion about the difficult choices to be made, Board President Fucheck said "due to ongoing contract negotiations we will not be taking final consensus and having final discussion on the last three remaining items from the agenda from last week. We cannot jeopardize our negotiations that are ongoing..." The remaining items are reducing Kindergarten to half-day, or closing a school: Balmville, Horizons, or Vails Gate.
Video of the meeting is available on YouTube.
The special meeting today, Tuesday April 23 has been changed to 6PM to allow for an hour of BOE discussion and a consensus on remaining necessary reductions.
Video of the April 18 Newburgh School District Budget Workshop is available on YouTube.
Here's the bullet point version...
- The BOE met in Executive Session starting at 5PM. The public Budget Workshop began at 6PM.
- BOE President Fucheck addressed a several budget items. She said that eliminating the Executive Principal position would not result in savings but would increase costs. Fucheck compared administrative staffing levels to other districts; talked about furniture purchasing; neighborhood schools and transportation; conference budget items; etc.
- Superintendent Pizzo made comments about not wanting to close any school.
- Assistant Superintendent of Finance Pacella gave a summary. He said that at one point the district had anticipated a restoration of 70% of the "GEA" reduction. [The increase in state funding was much less than that]. Recalculated gap is 8.6 million. There were 2.1 million in reductions already; current gap is at 6.4 million. These numbers based on a tax levy increase at the legal limit, which is 5.4%.
- Regarding the Newburgh Preparatory Charter School, their projected enrollment is reduced to 60 students.[Reduction of 45]. This reduces the budget by $665,850.
- Recommended that two clerical positions and the Executive Director of Technology be eliminated. [There was discussion about the technology position and a proposal to postpone a decision (which did not pass).]. These were approved by consensus. Clerical reductions $68,569; $62,013. Executive Director: $195,452.
- Item F: revised NFA curriculum reductions. The house/academy structure is to be maintained. Reduction of 14.4 teachers; saving $1,377,162. There was discussion about this: class sizes would go up; the plan would include a reworking of AIS (Academic Intervention Services required for underachieving students). This was approved by consensus, narrowly.
- Supply reductions: savings of $209,209. Reduction in extra earnings: $364,408. Textbooks reduction: $10,000. Sick-time buyout reductions: $30,000. Reduce number of instructional coaches in Curriculum & Instruction from 11 to 9: savings of $187,469.
- With these reductions, the gap is at 3,221,538. Pizzo proposed not making a decision on the proposals to close buildings or reduce kindergarten sections. He gave two reasons: to give representatives from the schools an opportunity to "make their case"; and there were ongoing negotiations with the Newburgh Teachers' Association. Cost savings of closing Horizons on the Hudson: $4,552,354; closing Balmville: $4,372,541; closing Vails Gate: $5,163,375; reducing Kindergarten to half-day: $2,939,673; elementary class adjustment savings would be $654,595. Board agreed to table "these items for consensus until Monday evening after we've heard from the community and the public at large again this evening, and after Monday's special meeting of the board."
- There were several comments from public speakers. That begins here in the video.
There is a meeting Monday April 22 at 6PM at NFA Main at which there will be time for further public comment.
On Tuesday April 23 at 6:30PM, also at NFA Main there will be a meeting for the BOE to adopt a 2013-2014 budget (no public comment time). That will be followed by the regular April BOE Workshop Meeting.
I've uploaded video of the Newburgh School District Central Compact Committee meeting on April 3. At this meeting there were two speakers. Assistant Superintendent of School Improvement Forgit spoke about strategic plans for the district, which include a new district-wide committee that must be created as part of district improvement efforts required by the NYS Education Department. Mayor Kennedy of the City of Newburgh spoke about the importance of education to Newburgh's future.
Here's a link to the video.
Forgit's presentation begins here.
Kennedy's talk starts here.
According to the district homepage:
Changes to the district calendar will increase instructional time for our students on April 29, 2013 and April 30, 2013. All students are expected to be in session for the entire day on both April 29 and April 30. In addition the last day of school for students is now June 21, 2013.
In other late-breaking schedule news a "BOE Special Metting (Anticipated Excutive Session)" has been scheduled for 5PM at Meadow Hill tomorrow, Thursday April 18--just before the Budget Workshop at 6PM.
Last week there was an excellent letter by NFA teacher Christine McCartney featured in the Washington Post's Answer Sheet blog--Teacher: Why I won't quit despite 'inane' reform.
I applaud the resolution of educators such as Gerald J. Conti and Kris L. Nielsen, for publicly deciding to remove themselves from classroom, especially because they have used their dissent as a platform to spread awareness about current issues in America's education reform. If you haven't come across their widely-read letters of resignation, you can find them here and here, respectively, and they are worth the read. After having spent the past month in Finland, however, gaining new insights from the Finnish education system and having the freedom of time to reflect on my own experiences as a teacher in New York, I have a different kind of letter. Call it my Letter of Resolution. I wrote it because I have had enough. I can't handle any more top-down; I am ready for some bottom-up. I hope you will join me.
The Newburgh School District budget meetings scheduled for the next week or so have all been rescheduled two weeks out...
BOE Budget Workshop Scheduled for April 4 has been rescheduled for April 18 @ Meadow Hill
BOE Special Meeting Scheduled for April 9 has been rescheduled for April 22 @ NFA-Main
BOE Special Meeting Scheduled for April 10 has been rescheduled for April 23 @ BOE/Library Complex
Excerpt from the message from the superintendent posted on the Newburgh School District website:
...the District still faces a deficit of approximately $8.9 million.
On April 4, 2013, the Board of Education will be holding a budget workshop at Meadow Hill School, from 6pm to 8pm. At this time the Board will consider the following recommendations to address the budget shortfall:
* Closing of one of the following elementary schools: Balmville, Horizons-on-the Hudson or Vails Gate,
* Reduction of Full day Kindergarten to half-day Kindergarten,
* Programmatic and staff reductions
As in previous budget workshop sessions there will be 30 minutes allotted for public input on alternate suggestions to reduce the budget gap. Parties interested in speaking should contact the District Clerk, Matthew McCoy, at 845-563-3503 or email@example.com.
An article in the Auburn Citizen linked to a scribd document containing NYS projected school aid for 2013-14 as of March 22. Newburgh is on page 56 of the document; or "PAGE 87" of the run. It looks like the Newburgh School District can anticipate about a one million dollar increase in aid over the January 22 numbers.
|2013-14 ESTIMATED AIDS:||01/22/13||03/22/13|
|FULL DAY K CONVERSION||0||0|
|BOCES + SPECIAL SERVICES||4,471,553||4,464,098|
|HIGH COST EXCESS COST||3,502,098||3,502,098|
|PRIVATE EXCESS COST||2,005,830||2,055,396|
|HARDWARE & TECHNOLOGY||200,604||201,180|
|SOFTWARE, LIBRARY, TEXTBOOK||951,104||954,098|
|TRANSPORTATION INCL SUMMER||10,630,299||10,604,715|
|OPERATING REORG INCENTIVE||0||0|
|CHARTER SCHOOL TRANSITIONAL||0||0|
|HIGH TAX AID||3,485,557||3,600,531|
|SUPPLEMENTAL PUB EXCESS COST||0||0|
|GAP ELIMIN. ADJMT (SA1213)||-11,789,185||-11,789,185|
|GAP ELIMINATION ADJUSTMENT||-9,537,443||-8,920,768|
|BUILDING + BLDG REORG INCENT||10,528,039||10,526,883|
There was a regular monthly Newburgh School District BOE meeting on Tuesday March 19, 2013. The meeting was at Temple Hill Academy. There was an audience of over 200. Video of the meeting is available on YouTube.
The bullet points...
- Board President Fucheck re-read the statement cancelling the March 14 and 21 meetings. Next budget workshop April 4, Meadow Hill 6-8PM; another meeting April 9 Meadow Hill 6PM; and finally the budget to be approved by the BOE April 10 Meadow Hill 6PM.
- Mrs. Toback, a Science Teacher at Heritage, and four of her students presented information about a water testing program. Students learned about testable properties of groundwater; ran tests; and submitted data to a state website.
- Steve Gold, the Chief of Staff of Assemblyman Frank Skartados gave an update on the status of the NYS budget. [this is about 14 minutes into the video] Mr. Gold described the budget process. There are two houses in the legislature, Senate and Assembly. The Governor presents a budget and then the two houses must compromise to get to a budget that can be approved. He said that School State Aid is expected to have a $290 million increase. Money is targeted to Foundation Aid and reducing the Gap Elimination Adjustment.
- The Board asked several questions and postponed approving a resolution to establish an articulation agreement "in the CTE program" with Bryant & Stratton College. Board Member McAfee proposed that this be discussed at the Curriculum Committee meeting on April 2 at 4PM.
- The Mid-Valley mall $602,000 and Newburgh Mall $1,139,500 property tax refunds were approved--also the necessary transfer of $1,700,000 from the Tax Certiorari Reserve to the General Fund. A transfer of $969,738 from the debt service fund was approved.
- During HR items Board Member Lewis requested that the home teaching appointments be voted separately. Most of the BOE voted no on this. BOE President Fucheck said that an alternative location was being set up to replace home teaching. Executive Director of Human Resources McLymore said April was a target for the alternative location.
- Lewis also objected to the hiring of regular subs off the sub list, claiming neglect to the hiring of minorities. This resolution narrowly passed.
- During the public comments there were over 20 speakers. Almost all of them spoke in support of Horizons on the Hudson. 8 Parents, 12 students, and a teacher spoke about Horizons. A parent spoke about the lack of information about district goals and a teacher made some specific recommendations to reduce district expenses.
- After a two and a half hour executive session, some HR appointments where adjusted; a litigation settlement was approved; resolution 120209a was rescinded [This was the resolution, passed at a special meeting on December 2, 2009 (by the vote of Bowles, DeMarco, Giudice, McAfee, Poppiti, Vesely, Woodhull, and Fucheck), which terminated the probationary appointment of Joyce Mucci as an Elementary Principal, effective January 8, 2010]; and Joyce Mucci was placed on administrative leave "effective her last day of her employment as a building principal and until the time of her resignation, to be effective the close of business on September 2, 2014. [So the Mucci lawsuit was settled.] An independent evaluator was also appointed.
Running for the Board of Education has a few minimal requirements (district resident, not an employee) and you will need to collect 100 signatures on a petition. The District Clerk, Mr. McCoy, can provide you with a packet of information with all the details. According to the NECSD 2013-14 budget page: "Petition forms are to be returned to the District Clerk by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 1, 2013. For additional information, please call Matthew McCoy, District Clerk at 563-3503."
What is a Board member supposed to do? Here are two suggested references:
1) New York State Education Law 2503 states the powers and duties of boards of education.
2) There is a brochure titled "Raising the Bar: A School Board Primer on Student Achievement" which is available as a pdf from the ERIC website. "This guide provides ways in which school board members can lead their school systems to higher levels of student achievement. The text attempts to help board members by equipping them with comprehensive information about the various components of student achievement."
That PDF is temporarily unavailable from ERIC. Here is a copy of Raising the Bar: A School Board Primer... (3.8mb pdf).
There was a workshop meeting of the Newburgh School District BOE on Tuesday March 12, 2013 at the Newburgh Free Library auditorium. The resolutions to be voted on March 19 were discussed.
- Board Vice President Freeman-Resch led the meeting, and began by reading an announcement of cancellation of the March 14 and 21 budget meetings.
- There was discussion about Board Members attending meetings via Skype.
- Terry Damon gave the construction projects update.
- HOH Principal Lisa Buon and several staff members gave a presentation about programs and progress at Horizons
- Board Member Levinstein asked why evaluators were no longer printed on the SIS reports provided to board members. In recent meetings Levinstein had expressed concern that the evaluators were subsequently hired to provide the services that they recommended. District Lawyer Shaw pointed out that "the law doesn't require that board members review the names of the evaluators..."
- Board members asked some questions about the School Innovation Fund Grant partners: these include the Glen Hines Boys & Girls club; two professors from Mount Saint Mary; and the Greater Newburgh Hudson Valley Health Partnership. This is the grant for Temple Hill (the district's "priority school").
- The district lawyer recommended a review of insurance coverage in connection with a field trip to Paris France. Board Member McAfee noted some peculiar wording in the trip proposal.
- Finance items included very large property tax refunds: $602,000 for Mid-Valley Mall; $1,135,000 for the Newburgh Mall. Balance in the Tax Certiorari fund is estimated at $2.4 million.
- Board Member Lewis asked questions about home teaching during both the SIS and HR items.
- The board recessed to executive session "for the employment history of particular individuals and for matters leading to the employment of particular individuals."