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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, April 26, 2012

GCSD leaves “ancient lever machines” for electronic ballots
By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — School district voters will be the first in the county to cast their budget and board ballots electronically.

“We’re going from ancient lever machines to scanatrons,” said school board President Colleen O’Connell at Tuesday’s board meeting.

That meant that, at Tuesday’s meeting, the board had to appoint Albany County-certified election inspectors as well as the usual local poll workers for the May 15 elections.

“We still need to have our own poll watchers to see that voters are eligible to vote,” said Assistant Superintendent for Business Neil Sanders.

While voters have used the electronic machines in municipal elections, Guilderland is the first school district in Albany County to do so, said Sanders.

District residents will be voting on an $89 million school budget as well as a $3.4 million public library budget. Additionally, four candidates — Christine Hayes, Jennifer Charron, Catherine Barber, and Emilio Genzano — are running for three seats on the nine-member school board. Three seats are also open on the 11-member library board, but no one submitted a petition to run.

Voters will fill in bubbles on paper ballots next to the candidates of their choice. After polls close, sticks with the data from the voting machines will be taken to board-of-election headquarters, where results will be tallied, and returned to the school district. Tally sheets may also be printed out at the district election sites, said board Clerk Linda Livingston, who is handling the new voting procedures.

“What are they going to do with the write-in ballots for the library?” asked board member Richard Weisz.

Sanders said those would have to be counted by hand and it would probably be several days before those results are available.

Guilderland School District residents vote at their area elementary schools. Anyone who has lived in the district for at least 30 days, is a United States citizen, and is 18 or older is eligible to vote.

Voters may register at any of the elementary schools or at the district office, located at the high school in Guilderland Center on May 3, 7, or 9. They may also register at the Albany county board of elections.

In other business, the board

— Heard from Dennis Feil objections to laying off young teachers. He said that kids like to speak to people they trust. At the end of the meeting, Weisz noted that, as Guilderland cuts jobs to close its budget gap, repeated objections have been raised to firing the last hired. Why lay off young teachers? Weisz asked. “The answer is: It’s the law.”

Alluding to Civil Service Law, O’Connell added that Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Lin Severance keeps required lists in various categories. “Our hands are absolutely tied,” said O’Connell;

— Heard from Jennifer Charron, a candidate for school board, about the Green Task Force and the upcoming Recycling Extravaganza at Farnsworth Middle School. (See related story for details);

— Heard from Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Demian Singleton that 10 Guilderland High School students will attend the Seventh Annual Autism Conference on May 4, with some participating in a panel reviewing peer network activities;

— Heard congratulations for Farnsworth Middle School students competing in the Math Olympiads. Andrew Korchowsky is the school champion and earned a gold pin for being in the top 2 percent of students internationally. Kevin Huang also earned a gold pin.

Ten Farnsworth students won silver pins, meaning they are in the top 10 percent of students internationally — Haemin Hwang, Amit Kannan, Arnav Kannan, Zio Lee, Paul Nho, Ifeyinwa Ojukwu, Michelle Prunier, Suraj Suresh, Helen Yang, and Albert Zhong.

These students received a felt patch for being in the top half of students internationally: Sadie Buerker, Matt Creighton, Ava Doyle, Charles Janice, Adi Kattuboina, Julianne Kim, Ben Klamka, Katlyn Lloyd, Brendan Moon, Sarah Moon, Caroline Murphy, Lily Pickett, Treasa Powathil, Sarah Readdean, Sarah Shamlian, Hugh Smith, Gauri Subramaniam, Amanda Thottam, Mallory Trainor, Alex Waldenmaier, and Layla Yousef;

— Learned that Kim Hyland and Matt Ball are developing a “literacy experience” for sixth-graders at Farnsworth. Using proceeds from a dance, Hyland hired children’s book author Karen Beil to improve students’ writing;

— Extended, for a year, an agreement with RMSCO, Inc. to provide Workers’ Compensation/loss control services for 2012-13 for an estimated fee of $15,875;

— Agreed to pay $11,240 for athletic equipment — the lowest of a series of bids by 17 vendors. The bids for 120 items, ranging from balls and scorebooks to medical supplies, were made for a cooperative of Suburban Council districts.

In the past, Guilderland had bid for athletic supplies as a stand-alone district, said Sanders. “This year, the Suburban Council athletic directors got together for one cooperative bid,” he said.

Regan Johnson, Guilderland’s new athletic director, estimated that Guilderland saved 25 to 30 percent by bidding cooperatively;

— Authorized the superintendent to execute an agreement with Beverwyck and the Eddy, which run facilities for the elderly, for payment in lieu of taxes for three properties in the town of Bethlehem. Sanders said the anticipated revenue for 2012-13 is $180,345, which has already been figured into the budget proposition;

— Accepted an artwork, depicting a football player holding a Guilderland helmet, donated by Arthur Waugh, a long-time Guilderland art teacher and coach who is now retired;

—Approved a new Physics Research Club at the high school in which students will work on projects with the ultimate goal of having a team compete in the United States Invitational Young Physicist Tournament, held in February of each year. Kristofer Gigante is receiving no stipend for advising the new club;

— Heard from board member Emilio Genzano who heads the Friends of Guilderland Athletics, which has raised funds from the community for the last two years to pay for freshman sports, that the Guilderland Chamber of Commerce will give some of the money it raises from “Three Chairs for Guilderland” to FOGA.

The chamber, to celebrate its 40th anniversary, is selling Adirondack lawn chairs that will be decorated and displayed throughout town. Wiles said that 65 have been sold, and a number of Guilderland schools are participating.

Genzano also said that some local businesses are interested in paying an annual fee to advertise at the high school concession stand, and a contact will soon be ready for the board to review; and

— Met in executive session to discuss negotiations with the Guilderland Office Workers’ Association and the Guilderland Teaching Assistants’ Association, and to discuss mediation with the Guilderland Employees’ Association. The board also talked about an employee’s potential discipline or dismissal, and about matters leading to the possible tenure appointment of an employee.

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