Melissa Hale-Spencer

Inclusion won’t be costly next year as the school district takes "baby steps," says Superintendent Marie Wiles.

ALTAMONT — A priest whose quest in life was “to make Jesus real” is described by those who knew him best as being like Jesus himself.

Joseph F. Girzone died on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015, at St. Peter’s Hospice Inn in Albany. He was 85. His books were read by millions of people around the world.

Nearly a year after the slain body of 5-year-old Kenneth White was found in a roadside snow bank in Knox, his cousin Tiffany VanAlstyne has pleaded guilty to murder.

"We shift to a mindset of focusing on what the student can do, not what the student can’t do," said Demian Singleton, explaining the school district's focus on inclusion.

Michael is a wisp of a boy with intelligent brown eyes. He has cerebral palsy. At Altamont Elementary, he has been taken out of a self-contained classroom and become part of a general class.

Director Penny Shaw says there's a melancholy to the Toyland song, "Once you leave its borders you can never return again." But, she said, children can bring you back.

The school district here, like those across the state, is facing a new budget year without the ability to raise taxes unless it can get a supermajority of voters to approve a hike.

Plans are progressing to house outside pre-kindergarten programs in extra rooms at Altamont Elementary, Pine Bush Elementary, and Farnsworth Middle School.

Supervisor Michael Hammond says his last budget is "pretty much bullet proof."

A Republican challenge didn't oust longtime Democratic supervisor, Richard Rapp. "We're doing fine," he said of Westerlo the day after residents gave him 55 percent of the vote.

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