I n a surprisingly quiet and quick meeting Monday night, the Granville Board of Education heard a brief update on the high school’s Regents test scores, raised the price for school lunch by a dime, hired six teachers, rehired three teachers’ aides who were laid off last year and named eight coaches.
The meeting was in marked contrast to the last meeting, which included a contentious discussion between parent Lisa Birchmore and several school officials and also saw Principal Jim Donnelly release lower-than-expected Regents scores. The next meeting, at 7 p.m., Monday, Aug. 27, will include discussion of the state testing results for grades 3 to 8 in Math and English.
Donnelly did not make a formal presentation of the Regents scores, opting to hand them to the board members. The results were little changed from his original presentation, but focused on the number of students who were proficient or had mastery on each test.
He discussed the English tests, which he had not brought up at the previous meeting, noting that 86 percent of the students passed, 45 percent had a score of 86 or better, indicating mastery, and five students had perfect scores.
“That came from the work of our English department,” Donnelly said. “They focused on this and made sure the students who needed extra help got it. This was a case where the academic intervention really worked. That’s something we need to look at in all the other tests, too.”
New teachers hired
The board approved Superintendent Mark Bessen’s recommendation to hire six new teachers, including three in the social studies department.
One of the new teachers is very familiar with GHS. Sarah Best-Twardy, a 1999 graduate who has been a volunteer assistant coach in cross-country, indoor and outdoor track and field. She was accepted to continue as a volunteer cross-country coach.
Kate Becker, a Stillwater graduate who was a long-term substitute in Granville and Greenwich, will teach social studies and was also named the school’s new varsity volleyball coach. Michele Bromley, who did long-term substitute work at Lake George and at the BOCES alternative high school, is the third new social studies teacher. There were more than 350 applications for the three positions.
Sarah Barsukoff, who was an adjunct instructor and laboratory coordinator at SUNY-Oneonta for 2.5 years, is joining the science department, and Daniel Lloyd, who taught in the BOCES program, was hired as a special education teacher.
Karen Jones, one of 650 applicants for the fourth-grade position at Granville Elementary, said she applied in Granville because her husband is from town and she considers it to be her second home. She most recently taught sixth grade at Stillwater.
The board also rehired teachers’ aides Karen Rees, Debra Cramer-Bourne and Thomas Cosey, who were laid off in 2011.
Other coaches who were hired were Tina Betit, cheerleading; Jay Condon, junior varsity boys’ soccer, Arthur Vaughan, modified boys’ soccer; Ray West, assistant football; Leanne Kreuger, assistant volleyball and Cathy Kilby, assistant field hockey.
Acting on a motion by John McDermott, the board voted to raise the price for breakfasts and lunches by 10 cents for the upcoming school year.
Business manager Cathy Somich said there had been some concern that raising prices might reduce the number of students buying lunch.
At the high school, breakfast will cost $1.45 and lunch is $1.95. At the elementary school, breakfast will be 95 cents and lunch will be $1.70.
Somich said the school system has been investigating ways to grow some of its own vegetables, but added that she did not receive any interest in a grant proposal she put out last year.
Prayer at meetings?
Birchmore, a parent of students in the Granville system, had the only public comment.
“I would ask that we add a prayer to the start of these meetings,” she said. “Our schools are in crisis. Other methods have not worked. It’s time to turn to God for guidance.”
Board President John Shaw said the board would look into the possibility.