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Counselors provide board with insights at North Collins school board meeting

The guidance counselors from North Collins Jr.-Sr. High sat with the school board explaining their operation and the methods used to develop schedules for students. Two chief concerns surfaced. Robert English and Amy Ward spoke that the lack of a range of electives, coupled with programming cuts over the past two years have made it difficult to fit students into every class they would like. Especially hard hit was the music department where some students forego lunch in order to take a music class while others have given up on band and chorus as options. The end result has seen an increase in study hall periods for many students. Additionally, as their titles indicate, the two are expected to provide counseling to students. Ward especially found it difficult in light of some very serious personal problems from some students that can require time to act on, to also find time during her regular hours to also work on scheduling. Ward’s position is only part-time seeing her in the school from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. four days per week.

The review, coupled with the upcoming budget discussions led to a lively discussion by the Board. Board member David Gier brought up the idea of placing certain courses on three-year cycles to enable students to get more skills. He specifically referred to the tech and home and career departments which were reduced in budget cutting measures. Cuts were made based on the historically low enrollment each year for certain courses, but Gier thinks that offering them once every three years could bolster the numbers and provide specific skills to students at least once during their high school years.

Board member Michael Stefan was especially interested in the scheduling process. He sought direction towards ideas that could provide “More bang for the buck” for the district. He wondered if adding workstations to the school’s labs could alleviate some scheduling problems. Labs currently host fewer students than courses they serve.

The board requested Jr.-Sr. High Principal Annie Metcalf to develop an overview of what a schedule with rotating electives might look like and how it might effect core subjects.

Submitting his most recent numbers, Superintendent Benjamin Halsey reported that the current figure for next year’s budget stands at $15,640,031. That number comes from maintaining current programs and adjusting for contractual obligations. It represents a $607,043 increase from this year’s budget. Keeping the tax levy increase at last year’s 3.2 percent would bring in just over $5 million and leave a gap of $598,000 that the board will need to fill. Halsey presented board members with budget binders as they prepare to plan for next year. He also reported that there are several more meetings scheduled with key department heads for their budgets but does not expect the final figure to change.

Board member Martin Niefergold reported that the Sports Hall of Fame committee is ready to entertain nominations for its first class. Forms can be found in the March district newsletter and can be submitted electronically or at the school office. The newsletter recently went to an all-electronic format and are posted on the district web site, however, printed copies are available at the school and can still be obtained through the mail upon request.

In other business the board:

• Approved the appointments of: Robert Catalino, boys JV baseball coach; Amber Small, girls modified softball coach; Vincent Fininzio, girls JV softball coach and the probationary appointment of Michael P. Genco as bus driver.

• Approved the return to full-time employment of secondary math instructor Brandi LoBianco-Weidright necessitated by a leave in the Math Department. The board also approved Adele R. Rosati be increased from a .7 to full-time with an additional .3 also due to the leave.

• Approved Robert V. English as Grade 11 Adviser and Brandi C. LoBianco-Weidright as Yearbook Finance Advisor.

The school board will next meet on Feb. 26 at 6:30 p.m. in the high school.

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