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Batting cages coming to North Collins

NORTH COLLINS — Batting cages will be added, prior to next year’s season, to both ball diamonds at the North Collins School District Athletic Complex.

Interim Superintendent Joan Thomas told the North Collins School Board, at its June 3 meeting, that, “Construction could begin this summer and be complete by March.”

While a large portion of the funds for the project are already in place, Thomas said “some additional fundraising will be necessary to finish the project.”

District Treasurer Crystal Cocca informed the board that, following a review, she is confident that tax collection duties could be performed within the district’s business office. Currently the task is performed outside, and last year the tax collector position cost the district $10,000, plus additional expenses, bringing the total to more than $15,000. Cocca said that with a $5,000 stipend, plus the normal additional expenses such as postage, the district could save at least $5,000 in the process. The board took no immediate action, planning to review the matter further.

Cocca also reported on negotiations with the Civil Service union about the possibility of replacing a Registered Nurse position with a Licensed Practical Nurse. According to Cocca, the change would result in a 6 percent savings to the district. The RN position already appears in the recently approved budget.

John Schiavone of Lumsden and McCormick LLP, presented the board with an outline of procedures his firm would follow, in the annual external audit of district operations. Of note, Schiavone explained, is that there has been a change to pension fund accounting, as it moves to an accrual basis. According to Schiavone, the modification is aimed at getting a clearer picture of not only current costs, but projecting well into the future. Schiavone told the board it should also see an increase in its pension costs with the comprehensive review.

John Tobia, a parent and school district liaison from the North Collins Town Board, relayed concerns he had received from other parents whose children participate in non-school sports that use the athletic field. The previous week, their children’s scheduled practice was cancelled when the field was given to two other school districts to play a game.

Both Board President Shannon Locking and Thomas responded that there are reciprocal agreements between school districts. In that specific instance, they said, inclement had precluded the two districts from being able to complete in an end-of-season game and requested use of the turf field, which was playable.

The local coach was notified and was fine with the decision, they said. Locking added that North Collins has benefitted from the cooperation of other districts, as well.

“Two years ago, when we lost two buses in an accident, the Lake Shore District provided us with two of their buses until ours were replaced.” Tobia said he was satisfied with the response and was only looking for clarification of district policies.

The board formalized changes in instructional staff for the coming year. In the Special Education area, it increased one teaching position from .7 to full-time employment. It also named Adele Rosati, currently a part-time instructor with the district, as most senior to fill the position. The change stems from the board's decision to bring more of its Special Education students back into the district. The move is expected to save $185,000.

Thomas said that, after further research, it will be necessary to hire only one teacher's aide for the expanded program, adding additional savings from not having to hire a second. The board further increased a Physical Education position from .5 to .7 and named Kathryn Shelly to the post.

The board abolished a .4 position in the music tenure area. The move eliminates a third music instructor, which the board had reinstated for the current year. Jill Dueringer has held that post and was determined to be the least senior teacher. The board will next meet at 6:30 p.m. on June 17 in the high school library.


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