ILION — Letters about bus transportation plans for the Central Valley School District went out to parents over the weekend and the phones were ringing Monday, according to Business Manager Ken Long.
He told the school board at a meeting Monday that he tried to call the bus garage five times that day and the line was busy every time.
Long acknowledged that some changes would have to be made to the plan.
“We know it’s not perfect,” he said. “We’ll have to tweak it. We’re writing down all of the suggestions. If it makes sense, we’ll move a stop.”
Parents have concerns about their children’s safety, he noted. “Some of them are absolutely warranted in their concerns.”
He said not all of the changes would be made by the time classes begin next week. “We’re working on it. If things need to be changed, we’ll change them.”
Board Vice President William Lennox noted that there are no sidewalks along some roads, including Barringer Road in Ilion.
Long said the district will bus children who live along that road for safety reasons. He said there are other streets that lack sidewalks as well and safety concerns are being considered.
Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra said he understands parents’ concerns, but said he has advised district employees that if callers are belligerent, loud or rude, they should advise them to call back when they can speak rationally and hang up the phone.
The district used computer software to help map out the routes and those familiar with the transportation routes in both districts were involved in laying out the routes.
When asked if the software is worthwhile, Long said it was and more information would be added to the program. For example, if a child should never be required to cross a particular street, that information can be entered into the program and the program would never again have a child crossing that street.
Tangorra reported that he and the board had toured Fisher and Barringer Road schools last week and toured Central Valley Academy prior to Monday’s meeting. At the board meeting in September, members will have an opportunity to tour the Jarvis Middle School in Mohawk.
Much of the work on the capital project has been accomplished, Tangorra said, adding, “You’ll be amazed at how much will be accomplished this week.” Paving is scheduled for mid-week, weather permitting. Libraries are being put back together and hallways are being cleared.
Electrical, plumbing and mechanical contractors, along with the general contractor, will continue work throughout the fall. Even with the flooding at Jarvis School, Tangorra does not expect any problems in having school ready to open on time.
Page 2 of 3 - Board member Fred Schell asked if there were any concerns about having contractors in the buildings during school hours and whether the district had to require background checks on the workers.
Tangorra said the workers wear identification badges and have been cleared by their employers. “We’ve had no issues. We’ve had great, great contractors,” he said.
He announced that the next school board meeting would be changed from Sept. 9 to 16. That way school will have been in session for a full week rather than just a few days. “There are going to be a few hiccups the first few days,” he said. “You’ll be able to see how we were able to rectify them.”
Tangorra gave an update on the question of whether or not the district should have a school resource officer. One alternative would be to pay an hourly rate to have a police officer in the buildings four hours a day. He said he understands that residents have concerns about extra security, but added, “Not a single one of your employees think it’s necessary.” Tangorra added that the decision is up to the board.
“If you think it’s a good use of taxpayers’ money, we’ll do it,” he said.
He said the district has a good relationship with the police in both villages. Mohawk Mayor Jim Baron offered police assistance to help with crowd and traffic control at Jarvis Middle School the first week of school, Tangorra added.
Cynthia Stocker, assistant superintendent for curriculum, said she had received the results of state tests for grades 3-8. While students in the former Mohawk and Ilion districts were “right in the pack” among Herkimer County schools, they fell a bit compared with Oneida County and were well below the state average.
She said she had put together a plan. The administration will have the data the district has received. “We’ll use the data to inform how we move forward,” she said.
The board conducted first readings on several proposed policies. Tangorra explained that the meal charging policy would keep a child from being punished if he didn’t have money to purchase his lunch. Once he charges three meals, however, his parents will be notified.
The board voted to adopt policies dealing with community use of school facilities, response to intervention, reporting possible child abuse, educational support materials selection, special education programs and services and pre-referral and declassification teams.
When asked about establishing an eligibility policy for athletics and other extra-curricular activities, Tangorra said board members have been far apart when it comes to agreeing on a policy. Lennox said he is in favor of a zero failure policy. Other board members favor a more lenient policy. Tangorra said he would bring proposals to the next board meeting.
Page 3 of 3 - Lennox said once the policy is established, it should be spelled out clearly to coaches. “It’s time we raised the bar,” he said.
Instructional and non-instructional appointments were approved.