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North Collins School Board rejects Halsey’s Athletics Director choice

In a 3-2 vote the North Collins School Board rejected Superintendent Benjamin Halsey’s recommendation to appoint Vincent Fininzio as athletic director for the district. Fininzio is currently serving as acting AD and has for several months.

Halsey, at the board’s Dec.11 meeting, presented his case for the appointment following an interview process held recently. He noted that several candidates had withdrawn their names for consideration based on Fininzio’s performance this Fall. He also said that several candidates expressed surprise that interviews were being conducted in light of Fininzio’s performance. Halsey added that in addition to his experience as the longtime recreation director for the Town of Brant, Fininzio has “demonstrated a passion for student athletics and a passion for North Collins sports.”

Board President, Shannon Locking, casting one of the “no” votes, stated that she would like to see consideration given to part-time employees in filling positions and expressed displeasure that the board was not presented the name until the meeting.

Halsey was adamant in his defense of his proposal. He reminded the board that he had presented the list of candidates in executive session several meetings ago and had received no concerns from Board members since then about any of the names. Additionally, he said while all candidates were qualified for the position, his eight years as a superintendent, six years as an athletic director and experience as a physical education instructor allowed him to determine that Fininzio was the most qualified for the post. Obviously frustrated, Halsey said “I’m confused by this vote, you approve full time appointments paying $36,000 with benefits, but vote against filling a part-time, yearly appointed position? I thought I gave research to the board why I felt this candidate was qualified.”

Board Member David Gier, who voted to support the appointment, said at the Fall Sports Dinner, school coaches told him that Fininzio was doing a great job and also that several candidates had withdrawn their names because of it. “That sealed the deal for me,” said Gier.

Following discussion, a the motion was re-entertained and lost again by the same margin. Joining Locking in voting no were members Martin Niefergold and Lisa Petrus. Voting for were Gier and Richard Foster. Vice President Mark Snow and Board Member Michael Stefan were not in attendance.

This was the only scheduled meeting of the board this month and leaves the AD position in limbo until January at the earliest.

The board did approve the annual “Where Eagles Dare” trip to New York City from April 26-27. It also approved Robert Turnbull and Lisa Brosnick as chaperones for the excursion. The trip, sponsored for years by Robert Turnbull, will allow eight selected students to participate in a whirlwind tour of the city. Science Instructor Lisa Brosnick presented the trip details to the board and reported a change to the selection process as recommended by Turnbull. Potential candidates will be evaluated on many factors including respect shown, helpfulness, even when no reward is offered and perseverance in the face of adversity. To assist, Brosnick has solicited input from the faculty to help identify students with the traits. Over 100 North Collins students have participated in the trips since they were first begun.

Four students enrolled in the district’s tech program made their case for restored funding to the courses. Displaying projects that had been completed through the program, the group was led by Junior Cody Yetter, who told the board that the cuts instituted two years ago have denied him opportunities he was planning to pursue. Saying that the department can offer students skills such as welding and soldering which “can be used in the real world.” The group followed up with a petition signed by 64 students who indicated they would take advantage of tech electives if offered.

Niefergold reported that he recently met with the athletic director for the Eden School District who informed him that North Collins students would be welcome to play football with Eden, a program not offered at North Collins. Niefergold also said that he was told the cost would be approximately $400 per participant but that fund raisers are also held and money should not affect anyone’s participation.

Superintendent Halsey responded that to initiate a joint sports program, the boards of each district would have to approve a resolution approving the plan. Additionally, he cautioned that in tight economic times, a per-student charge could impact a budget not knowing how many students would want to participate. Additionally, he noted that an additional sport option could drain players away from current district sports programs.

Elementary School Principal John Cataldo reported on another successful Senior Citizen Luncheon held at the school. Seventy-six seniors attended the event which was served by students who also provided small gifts. He also reported that a “Lights On For Sandy” fund drive initiated by Fifth graders Rebecca Holmes and Madison Gaglione, collected over $600, far beyond the $200 the girls expected to collect. The money will be forwarded to “New York Cares” an agency in New York City, to assist children who have been impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

Jr. Sr. High Principal Annie Metcalf informed the board that the long-running television program “It’s Academic” will return to the airwaves on Channel 2. Mr. Walters has enthusiastically accepted moderator duties and will field a team comprised of students Kyle Cataldo, Zak Gier Garrett Martin and Dylan Schultz this coming Saturday. An air date has not been released.

The board approved the appointment of Jonathan Feniello as an unpaid assistant for the Boys Basketball program.


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