The Peekskill Board of Education plans to review, clarify and publicize its policy for comments by members of the public during its meetings.
Of particular concern is whether board members should respond immediately to questions and comments when they can do so briefly instead of waiting until later in the meeting. Currently, the board generally does not respond to speakers during the hearing of citizens at the beginning of each public meeting.
Board President Joseph Urbanowicz suggested during Tuesday’s business meeting that the policy address such concerns as the amount of time per speaker and which topics, such as specific personnel matters, are off limits.
Board member Michael Simpkins, summarizing the thoughts of several colleagues, said, “We want the citizens to come out but we must make sure they understand what’s appropriate and what isn’t.” As for immediate responses, “Let’s leave the door open for a little conversation.”
In other action Tuesday:
- “There is not going to be any fence” around Peekskill High School, Urbanowicz emphasized in response to lingering rumors that the district is still considering one.
- To allow more time for discussion of each issue, the board decided to focus on the district’s closed-campus policy at its Nov. 1 meeting and focus on the Code of Conduct during a December meeting. Superintendent of Schools James Willis is researching open/closed-campus policies in other districts and legal issues involved with letting students leave the campus during school hours.
- The board approved appropriations of $1,199,376.22 from reserve funds to settle a tax certiorari case with Society Hill II at Westchester Condominium; $448,969.28 to settle a tax certiorari case with Society Hill at Westchester Condominium; and $127,280.46 to settle a tax certiorari case with 3 Corporate Drive LLC and 200 N. Water St. Corp.
- Carmine Crisci, district director of facilities, reporting for the Facilities Committee, said work on the swimming pool bleachers should be completed next week, in time for divisional competition. In response to questions from board member Douglas Glickert about varying air and water temperatures for different activities, Crisci said it takes four hours to raise or lower the water temperature one degree. Water temperature is 81 degrees for competitive swimming, air temperature is 84 degrees. Given tight scheduling, it is not always possible to raise the water temperature for infant swim programs; board members suggested that parents provide their infants with special swimwear designed to compensate for such temperature differences.
- Crisci said an area of new grass at Woodside Elementary School is still “damp and delicate.” Yellow protective tape around the area should be removed in a few weeks.
- Superintendent Willis, reporting for the Education Planning Committee, said the district is looking at alternative programs for disruptive students, including distance learning and evening hours. The district is also evaluating the effectiveness of special programs such as dual language.
- Board member Simpkins urged efforts to improve communication between schools and parents. He cited speakers during the hearing of citizens who say they were not notified about matters affecting their children.
- Activist Darrell Davis voiced concern about on-campus police questioning of a 16-year-old after a fight without, he said, a parent being contacted.
- A mother voiced concern about a bus schedule change that makes her daughter late for class at the Board of Cooperative Educational Services. She was not notified of the change, she said.
- The board postponed discussion of goals for itself and the district.
- The board is trying to arrange a date to meet with the City of Peekskill Common Council to discuss mutual concerns. Suggested topics include use of the Uriah Hill building, shared services, shared fields and the Community Boat Works.
- Board member Glickert asked whether the district could provide bus service (currently not offered) to Catholic schools on days when they are open while Peekskill public schools are closed (such as Jewish holy days). Willis will investigate the cost of such service and whether it could be provided in conjunction with other districts.
- The board accepted a donation of books from the Retired Educators Chapter of the Peekskill Faculty Association.
- The board approved a credit of $109,862 to the district from U.W. Marx and an additional payment of $14,415 to Schenectady Steel in conjunction with construction of the new middle school. The board rejected a proposed credit of $6,110 to the district from Norco Ltd. pending receipt of additional information.
- The board approved daily pay of $75 for substitute teacher assistants.
In personnel actions the board:
- Appointed Anita Prentice as a social studies teacher in Hass’s Way, a tutorial program in the Administration Center for students who have received outside-school suspension.
- Appointed Angela Reuss and Cindy Ocasio-Gary as speech and language teachers; Kelly Kadin as coordinator of response to intervention; Todd Newby as mentor coordinator; Rita Hobby-Barrett as high school detention room teacher; Laura Dahl and Patricia Henry as teacher assistants; Esmelinda Bucchignano as Spanish-speaking office assistant; Steve Mackay as aquatics instructor/coordinator; Gary Male as sports equipment manager; Patricia Savino as educational consultant; Julie Hayes as teacher aide; Catherine Schwarz-Sapeta and Amanda Walsh as student teachers; Jessica Rondon as lunch monitor; Matthew Dwyer, Sean Dwyer and Catherine Iaconis as teacher aide substitutes.
- Appointed grade level leaders: Hillcrest Elementary School: Valeria DiCuio, Jamie Rossi, Gabrielle Sandomir, Tara Tierney; Oakside Elementary School: Marisa Anzovino, Ellen Camellieri, Melissa Fidanza, Michele Laura; Woodside Elementary School: Gloria Cordova, Camille Colombini.
- Appointed mentor teachers: Eileen Alvarez, Dorothy Bertram, Heather Brown, Toni Day, Anthony DiCuio, Valeria DiCuio, Kevin Dwyer, Jodi Fernandez, Jenna Ferris, April Kellam, Martha Lynch, Thomas Malcolm, Timothy Murphy, Jamie Rossi, Pasquale Salvatore, Gabrielle Sandomir, James Senning, Joseph Tama, David Thomas, Tara Tierney.
- Appointed Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test proctors: James Bennett, Dorothy Bertram, Gary Bertram, Toni Day, Lucrecia Giha, Maria Gordineer, Rita Hobby-Barrett, Gordon Hubbard, David Mueller, Laura Santarelli, Frank Savage, Hollie Smith, Matilda Zeoli.
- Appointed staff for the Twilight Academy Program (an alternative work-study program for high school students): Matilda Zeoli, Anita Prentice, April Kellam, Ellen Jones, Todd Newby, Susan Imhof, David Mueller, Gordon Hubbard, Maria Gordineer, Angela Byrne, Philippe Pierre, Ed Benvenga, Edward Peterson.
- Appointed permanent substitutes: Adam Zolotas, Marc Sorondo, Philippe Pierre, Dina Akhnoukh, Michael Zupa, Lauren Parthemore.
- Appointed coaches and intramural personnel: Rodney Headley Jr., girls varsity basketball; James Smith, girls varsity basketball assistant; Kimberly Saxton, girls junior varsity basketball; Lou Panzanaro, boys varsity basketball; Michael Telesco, varsity wrestling; Jonathan Travis, modified wrestling; Paul Piliero, boys winter track; Michael Tanzi, girls winter track; Maranda Armstrong, varsity and modified football cheerleading; Agnes Travis, varsity bowling; Edgar Perez, boys varsity swimming; Jonathan Travis, intramural volleyball; Timothy Turner, intramural basketball.
- Appointed Mercy College student volunteers for LEAP (Learning Enrichment Activities Program): Lacey Borman-Cohen, Kristen Acosta, Krystina Cooke, Amanda Arcara, Heather Moore, Yvonne Daniels, Jennifer O’Shea, Shanna Hicks, Jessica Wendolski, Nancy Roscona, Chrissy Bucci, Meghan Piebes.
- Appointed school volunteers/internships/classroom observations personnel: Cynthia Torres, Jane Kinney, Meghan Makarczuk, Casey Woods, Alexander Lengers Emily Tehir, Kristopher Walters, Emma Giovinco.
- Appointed home tutors: Elena Arroya, Charlene Woods, Kimberly Pagan-Cruz, Winston Riley, Gloria Blackman, Tanya Sharrock, Raquel Cruz.
- Accepted the resignation of Earline Griffith as a lunch monitor.