KINDERHOOK—Ichabod Crane School Board voted to present a $43,878,924 budget to voters for the 2021-22 school year. The board held a short meeting, in-person and online, on April 20 to approve the proposed budget and approve a bus purchasing proposition on the ballot for $430,333.
The proposed budget is a $1.5-million increase from last year and would be under the state mandated tax cap. District Business Manager Michael Brennan pointed out that the budget maintains staff and programming, addresses “learning loss” during the pandemic, and does not include any of the federal stimulus funding. He did say there will be an increase in state aid.
School budget and board elections will be held in-person on Tuesday, May 18, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the High School Gymnasium (information on how to register to vote and how to get an absentee ballot is in a press release on Page 6 of the print issue).
Also on the ballot will be five candidates for three open seats on the school board. The five candidates on the ballot will be Regina Rose, Jared Widjeskog, Resa Dimino, Jennifer Allard and Anne Schaefer. The three top vote-getters will get seats on the board.
None of the incumbent board members are running for reelection. Board Vice President John Antalek and two members who were appointed to the board this school year to finish terms, Ruth Moore and Susan Ramos, are not running this year.
At the board’s regular meeting April 13 Mr. Brennan also presented the budget numbers. At both meetings the board looked at federal money that the school will receive through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA) and the American Rescue Plan (APR). Mr. Brennan said at the April 20 meeting that these funds are grants and would not show up in the general fund.
At both meetings he said that there would be more information on the federal funding programs later this month. He said the district is looking at where they can use funds so they don’t create a “funding cliff” or hole in the budget going forward. For the CRRSA, the district could receive about $1.6 million, and the ARP grant would be about $2.1 million.
At the regular board meeting last week, Superintendent Suzanne Guntlow said that the state has just released updated guidance for schools on Covid-19 restrictions. She said the information was “hot off the presses” and the administrators were still meeting about the changes.
She pointed out to the board that Columbia County is in the “substantial” risk category, which could mean having some restrictions for the students, mostly in the high school. And she said the district is waiting to see the effects on cases due to spring break travel.
This week, an email went out to parents saying that “after carefully reviewing the full updated NYS guidance we have determined we can welcome all hybrid 7th grade students back to in-person instruction 4 days per week.” Eighth graders and high school students will remain on the hybrid schedule (in-person classes two days a week and online classes three days). The email goes on to say that, “If you feel your grade 9-12 student is struggling, academically or otherwise, in the current hybrid model, please reach out to their school counselor or principal.”
The email also says that “the Department of Health has informed us we can reduce physical distancing requirements from 12 feet to 6 feet in K-12 special area classes (Music and Physical Education).”
And it advises parents that if they “have any questions or would like to provide feedback on these changes, please reach out to your building’s principal by April 26. We plan to implement these changes effective Monday, May 3 after a thorough review of any provided feedback.”
During the April 13 board meeting, board President Matthew Nelson pointed out that vaccines are available for people 16 years old and older, and Ms. Guntlow said she is in talks with the county Department of Health about having a vaccination site on the school campus.
Also at the April 13 meeting:
· The board awarded diplomas to four veterans who were unable to graduate due to serving in the military. High School Principal Craig Shull spoke about each of the veterans. The board voted on awarding a diploma to Clifford Johnson, who was declared Missing in Action in North Korea during the Korean War, at their April 13 meeting. In February, they voted to award diplomas to three World War II soldiers who were killed in action: Clarence L. Johnson, Fred VanZandt and Claude A. Rothermel. The diplomas are part of a state program called Operation Recognition
· The board recognized several teachers and administrators who received tenure. They are Danielle Gorman (Special Education), Sarah Cotsonas (Health Education), Nancy Dolan (English 7-12), Daniel Farley (English 7-12), Elizabeth Rossback (Art), Erin Mitchell (School Psychologist), Melissa Barford (Teaching Assistant), Andrea Williams (Primary School Principal), Peg Warner (Director of Special Education) and Lyn LaBounty (Teaching Assistant)
· Ms. Guntlow and Student Board Member Tismark Boham reported that the state had come out with guidelines for graduations and proms. Tismark said the class is working on planning prom and excited to see what will happen with that.
The district’s Annual Budget Hearing is scheduled for May 4 at 7:00 p.m. to be held virtually with a limited number of seats available at the Primary School Auditorium. Information can be found on the district website at www.ichabodcrane.org.