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School Board Roundup:

School Board authorizes $100,000 in overtime to complete high school by first week of school.

Passes resolution opposing Senator Nick Spano's unemployment compensation bill for 10-month employees -- could cost District additional $500,000 a year.

New Director of Adult and Continuing Education appointed.

Yanofsky expresses concern over Albany bare-bones budget affect on school budget.

Code of conduct briefing on way to all parents in secondary schools.

By John F. Bailey

Cityline: August 16, 2001 -- Education House

In its regular Board of Education meeting Monday evening, August 13, the Board authorized spending up to $100,000 in overtime construction costs to complete the new high school media center, administration offices, new cafeteria and science lab expansion in time for the first week of school.

Richard Lasselle, Assistant Superintendent for Business, requested the increase in order to cope with a shortage of electricians on the high school renovation, which has 21 days before students are expected to arrive. Lasselle, speaking to WPCNR, assured WPCNR the high school would be ready to serveallhigh school students by the first day of school, September 6.

Lasselle said the contractor has been working 6 days a week to ready the $28 million expansion. He said the authorization of $100,000 in overtime expenditure was an effort to assure availability of electrical contractors, whom Lasselle described as being in great demand around the county due to the large number of construction projects throughout the region.

WPCNR spoke with a supervising contractor on site at the high school last week who told us that he was anticipating the project being completed by the third week in September at the earliest. Our source said that the new cafeteria had all kitchen and serving facilities in place and interior renovation installed, and that the electrical work which including wiring air conditioning and ventilation systems (delivered and cranelifted onto the building the last week in July) were about to be "hooked up." This on-site source reported that the electrical subcontractors were the keys to getting the entire project student-ready by September.

On the science lab facilities, the contractor told us last week that labtables and heavy counter furnishings were in place, and were awaiting electrical, plumbing and gas hookups. He speculated that the science labs would also be completed approximately about Setember 15 but stressed that work was intensifying. He gave us this estimate the first week of August.

NEW SCIENCE Labs being enclosed week of August 6. Contractor reports labtables in and electrical work remains. Photo by WPCNR.

The contractor also reported that work on the new media center was in good shape, but that too was awaiting electrical wiring for technological resources. He said that the school district had concentrated on the cafeteria and science facilities, and that the new administrative offices and circular media center section would be completed last.

MEDIA CENTER and ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICES under construction. Media Center awaits wiring, is expected to open mid-September. New Administrative offices in this section will be last to be opened. High school brain-trust will continue in trailers. Photo by WPCNR.

A teacher interviewed by WPCNR at the beginning of August advised us that she had been told that the administration offices would continue to be in the temporary trailers through September because the new administrative offices would be completed last in the construction sequence.

Lasselle, speaking to WPCNR after the Board of Education voted the overtime funds, said that "I don't want to make predictions, it's still too close to call, but we're going to be ready for the kids."

He said the new cafeteria, as of last Monday's meeting, needed the electrical work to be completed, and that the media probably would not be functioning until about mid-September, when all books and materials and equipment would be moved into the facility.

New Cafeteria nears completion. Shown August 6, Cafeteria is having air-conditioning, vents, electrical work installed and is expected ready for service the first day of school. Photo by WPCNR.

However, Lasselle was optimistic. He emphasized that the construction situation improves each day, and pointed out that once contractors left a clean-up operation would be needed before the new facilities were ready to be activated. He did say the new cafeteria was expected to be ready for the first day of school and there would be room for all the students.

Asked if WPCNR could go on a walking tour of the construction this week, Lasselle suggested that the time for the tour was when the new facilities were opened officially.

The renovation of the high school lost 17 construction days at the beginning of the project in the year 2000, due to union disputes that the nonunion contractor, Tratoros Construction was not using enough union operators on heavy earth-moving equipment and concrete pouring. This was resolved, and there have been no work stoppages since August, 2000.

In other action --

The Board of Education approved a resolution going on record as opposing a bill that Dr. Saul Yanofsky said which would direct the School Districts across New York State authorize "unemployment compensation" to "non-instructional 10-month employees, (not teachers) across the state."

Yanofsky said that the bill was sponsored by State Senator Nicholas Spano.

Yanofsky said this bill which apparently has widespread support in the legislature could cost the City School District more than $500,000 a year increased expenses because the School District is "self-supporting, in terms of its unemployment compensation."

The Personnel Office of the School District reported to WPCNR that 10-month employees include "teaching assistants, cafeteria workers, and some clerical staff."

The Superintendent of Schools said "It (the bill) is disturbing, because its purpose is not what unemployment compensation is all about. People on these 10-month jobs take them because they only want 10-month jobs. They want the summer free."

Yanofsky expressed concern that teachers would desire the same unemployment benefits in the future, creating the specter of a massive increase in unemployment compensation.

Yanofsky said he had written State Senators Suzi Oppenheimer, Nicholas Spano, and Assemblypersons Amy Paulin and Naomi Matusow opposing the project, but mentioned that Senator Spano is the actual bill sponsor.

"The bill is still alive in Albany," Yanofsky reported. "The tax PACS and business interests have not heard of it, and it is my understanding that this (bill) is going to happen very quietly."

WPCNR contacted Senator Spano's office to find out exactly why this bill is being sponsored in Albany, and exactly what it would do. The Senator's press secretary, Claire Wainwright, reported that the Senator is away, and that she will be reporting back to WPCNR with more background on the reasons behind this bill.

On Albany issues...

Dr. Yanofsky, in his remarks to the Board, expressed concern about the impact of the Albany "bare bones" budget passed against Governor Pataki's wishes two weeks ago.

The budget he said, means that the District will not be getting state aid they anticipated for BOCES, small cities and the disabled. "(These cuts) will have a devastating affect across the state," Yanofsky said.

He also said the legislators' $4 billion in cuts would deny any possibility of added funding for magnet schools. He also said Pre-K funding could be affected, though the school district is planning to stay with the Pre-K program this year.

New Director of Adult Education...

The district approved the appointment of Claudia Jarmillo to the position of Director of Adult and Continuing Education replacing Anthony Morzello, who is retiring.

Ms. Jarmillo was described by Dr. Yanofsky as having been found after two "searches," and that she had very impressive credentials in curriculum development. She holds an Bachelor of Arts and Masters Degree from St. John's University.

Watch your mailbox for The Code of Conduct

For the green and tan Code of Conduct Summary. The flyer outlines the 27-page Code of Conduct approved by the School Board June 25, 2001. Versions are available in both English and Spanish. All families of secondary school students will receive the flyer with the school calendar in the next two weeks. Assemblies will also be held in schools discussing the Code of Conduct.

Anyone wishing the complete Code of Conduct may request it from the School District in English or Spanish by calling 422-2039.

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