A special meeting of the Eden Central School District Board of Education ended quickly on Wednesday night, but not before tempers flared from many who came to speak on behalf of a few issues raised at last week’s school board meeting.
As the board was ready to adjourn the meeting after approving a couple of business items, a few of the 35 people in attendance asked if the board would stay to receive public comment on a few issues. This was a special meeting, and the board was not required to hold a public comment session as is required in a regular board meeting. Some heated words were offered by those in attendance as the board moved to adjourn the meeting.
Some of those strong words came from Adam Ciccarella, an Eden resident whose daughter attends the Eden Junior/Senior High School. He was there to find out more information about the board’s decision to release Pat Menkeina, assistant principal of the high school, from her position next year. The board wants to eliminate the position to help close a budget gap. But many people, Ciccarella included, admire the work Menkeina has performed as assistant principal. “The district’s saying ‘We don’t need her anymore,’ but this person doesn’t want to leave, and she’s done a lot for our kids.” Multiple meeting attendees mentioned that Menkeina has built a strong connection with not only the kids, but much of the faculty and staff at the high school during her tenure.
Many teachers from the district were also in attendance, hoping to discuss possible changes to the district’s employee health care plan that the board was trying to pass. The board maintains that it can save $400,000 on its 2013-14 school year budget if all the school’s unions approve the NY44 healthcare plan. Currently, three unions, including CSEA and the administrative employees’ union, have approved the change. The teacher’s union, the last of the four, has not approved it yet.
Colleen Kot, president of the Eden Teachers Association, stated after the meeting that the time frame was too quick to allow a proper decision on the matter by the teacher’s union. She also cited concerns that it seemed unlikely that the healthcare coverage change could be made complete by the July 1 deadline for enrollment, even if the teacher’s union approved the measure right now. According to board member Colin Campbell, the new NY44 plan would increase the coverage that district employees currently enjoy while closing the budget gap at the same time.
In other business, the board:
• Approved the 2013-14 BOCES administrative budget for the upcoming school year. A vote on approving the 2013-14 BOCES service commitments was tabled to a later meeting.