Only one candidate for school board; auditorium on target

T he Whitehall Board of Education may have fewer members later this spring after only one candidate filled out a petition to run for one of three open seats during next month’s election.

James Brooks of Lafayette Street was the only candidate to turn in a petition by Monday’s deadline and barring the unforeseen, will become the newest member of the board in June.

The terms of Joyce Corcoran and Michael Putorti are set to expire next month and a third seat vacated by former board member and current supervisor George Armstrong is also open.

Corcoran confirmed last month she would not be running for reelection and the district did not receive a petition from Putorti. Armstrong had to step down after being sworn in as supervisor. According to state law, a supervisor cannot also be a member of a school board.

The terms of Corcoran and Putorti are for five years and there are four years remaining on Armstrong’s term. Brooks will step into one of the five-year terms.

Historically, the board has three options: to appoint members to the board; hold a special election; or do nothing.

If they appoint people to the board, the appointment would only be until the elections next May, at which point the person would have to file a petition and run for election to serve the remaining years on the board.

If the board chooses to do nothing until next year, it would still function has a nine-member board, meaning five votes would be required to pass any action.

Because the deadline was only a few hours before the board meeting, members will likely wait until next month before deciding how to proceed.

 

Work continues

In other matters, Superintendent James Watson said renovations to the auditorium continue.

He said work continues to be on schedule and the only facet of the project that could affect graduation ceremonies is the seating, which is made in Maine but shipped to China to be assembled.

“It’s tentatively scheduled to be installed the week of June 18 and the installation should take three or four days,” he said.

If the installation does indeed conform to that timetable, graduation will be held in the auditorium. However, if for any reason the seating is not received on time, graduation will need to be moved to the gymnasium.

Even if seating is installed, it’s likely that carpeting won’t be laid until after graduation.

Crews have already completed work on the stage and a new curtain has been ordered and will be hung when work is complete. The old seating has also been removed.

Watson said the district will be able to make a better determination of whether having graduation in the auditorium is feasible by next month.

 

The board also formally approved the district to forge ahead with its plans to relocate the sixth grade from the elementary school to the high school.

Officials sent a letter home last month informing parents of the proposal and subsequently held a public meeting to discuss the matter in further detail. Nearly half of this year’s current fifth-grade parents attended the meeting and while some expressed concern, no one spoke out against the move categorically.

Officials plant to send another letter home to parents later this month to address any concerns they may have.

Watson said the logistics are “moving ahead nicely” and scheduling has begun.

The move will be effective at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year and received the unanimous support of the board.

 

Teachers return

In a bit of good news, the board authorized the district to reinstate two teachers.

A full time elementary teacher’s position that was eliminated in January will be reinstated as will a part-time Title 1 math position that was eliminated at the same time.

Watson said the district received $76,000 in additional revenue from the state that will cover the cost of the two positions.

He said the district zeroed in on instructional positions in an effort to keep class sizes down.

Officials also said the district has begun the task of working on next year’s budget and was able to save $11,000 to $12,000 by buying $36,000 worth of tires before prices increased.

In other budget matters, the board approved the BOCES administration budget in the amount of $5,675,775, a 0.7 percent increase over last year.

Watson said BOCES is facing many of the same constraints Whitehall is in terms of increasing retirement costs and loss of some state aid.

The presentation of Whitehall’s budget will be held on May 7 and it will be put to a vote on May 15.

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