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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 23, 2009

GCSD to track grads

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — The same system that allows Guilderland High School students to search for the right college will allow the district to track their progress at college.

The Naviance Survey Builder, part of the Naviance planning and advising systems, will be used next year for post-graduate surveys, Demian Singleton, Guilderland’s assistant superintendent for instruction, told the school board at its July 6 meeting.

The system has been in place for about a year, he said, and there is no extra cost to using the Survey Builder.

The current senior class is “embedded” in the system, he said.

Board member Barbara Fraterrigo, who has pushed for years to survey graduates to find out what happens to them after they leave Guilderland, asked if earlier classes could be surveyed as well.

Superintendent John McGuire said that to go back and enter data would be costly. “Usually, you pick a point in time and choose to build the system,” he said. He also said, “This is fun work” and the results would be awaited with “baited breath.”

Students have been using the College Search module to enter criteria to generate a list of colleges to which they might apply. They can then follow links to learn more about the colleges and they can compare their own profiles to national as well as Guilderland High School data.

Board cuts NYSSBA costs

The board discussed at length what used to be automatic support for sending members to attend the annual New York State School Boards Association convention.  The convention will be held in New York this year, which is costly.

The board decided to pay tuition, room, board, and travel expenses for just its one voting representative — Denise Eisele.

“I totally object,” said Fraterrigo. “We put close to a million dollars in teachers’ training,” she said, and board members need training, too. She said the sessions are valuable and also that it is important to support NYSSBA.

“Why not send as many board members as we can?” Fraterrigo asked. “We don’t get paid. This is not a junket.” By limiting board members’ training, she concluded, “Eventually, it hurts the kids and community.”

“Times have changed,” the board’s newly elected vice president, Catherine Barber, told Fraterrigo. “You’ve been able to go every year for the last six years. That’s a lot of years for one person to go.”

“It’s all good stuff,” said President Richard Weisz of what the convention offers. “We’ve told the staff and the community that good stuff may not happen.” He said this was a way for the board to share the pain of budget cutbacks. “I think it’s a sign of respect,” said Weisz.

Julie Cuneo, who had just been sworn in as the board’s newest member, said that information was priceless.

Board member Judy Slack suggested Cuneo could learn from local workshops instead.

The budget allows $3,500 for board expenses, a figure the district had planned on increasing this year, McGuire said, until the state budget crisis hit.

Ultimately, at Fraterrigo’s urging, the board agreed to pay the $275 tuition fee for convention seminars for anyone who wants to attend, but the travel and hotel fees will have to be borne by the individuals, except for Eisele’s.

“I feel a little unsupported,” said Cuneo, noting all the resources are going to one person.

The final vote was 7 to 1, with Fraterrigo the sole dissenter.

Other business

In other business, the board:

— Appointed Aaron Sicotte as assistant principal at Guilderland High School at an annual salary of $81,000. The three-year probationary appointment runs from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2012.

Sicotte, an English teacher at Guilderland High since 2003, became acting assistant principal on Aug. 18, filling the post left vacant when Brian McCann became acting principal. McCann has since been named principal.

“Thank you for a great year, Aaron, and congratulations on your new role,” said Superintendent McGuire;

— Heard congratulations for Alan Fiero, Farnsworth Middle School science teacher, for winning the Union Graduate College Crystal Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching.

“Dr. Alan Fiero, a National Board Certified Teacher, has established unusually powerful learning environments for Farnsworth Middle School students for more than three decades,” said Pat Allen in presenting the award. “His students’ most famous accomplishment, a Butterfly House, allowed student experts to establish an environmentally nourishing habitat for Karner blue and other native butterflies”;

— Heard from Singleton that the Board of Regents has endorsed moving the English and math exams for students in third through eighth grades to May. The shift, he said, “will have significant impact on the operations of the school district.”

The exams had been given earlier in the school year. Board member Colleen O’Connell said the later date will make the expensive exams worthless since the information on results won’t be available in time to plan from.

McGuire said that the change is to allow more instructional time before the exams. “In May, people are not on their A game,” said O’Connell;

— Heard from Assistant Superintendent for Business Neil Sanders that the district issues 41 cellular phones to employees, which cost an average of $22 per month;

— Approved a Board Of Cooperative Educational Services consultant agreement to host the Summer Reading and Writing Institutes at Guilderland. The Albany-Schoharie-Schenectady-Saratoga BOCES will pay the district about $7,600 for hosting the Reading Institute, July 14 through 16, and the Writing Institute, Aug. 4 through 6;

— Approved the agreement to rent classroom space to the Early Childhood Education Center for next year. Five classrooms at Pine Bush Elementary School will be rented for $28,350 each;

— Approved an agreement with the Rensselaer-Columbia-Greene BOCES to provide internal auditing services for next year; the cost is estimated at $10,575, Sanders said;

— Cast its ballot for Lynne Lenhardt to serve as the Area 7 director for the New York State School Boards Association for a two-year term beginning on Jan. 1, 2010.

“I think she’s done a good job,” said Weisz; and

— Set a board workshop for Aug. 24 from 7 to 10 p.m.

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