The results of a public online survey focused on finding a new Onteora Central School District Superintendent showed a preference for someone who was as a classroom teacher, followed by experience as a Superintendent, and third as a building principal. Of 371 survey respondents, 159 of whom were residents with children attending Onteora schools, many expressed a preference for someone able to foster a professional climate of trust and respect, with good leadership and communication skills. Of those responding to the survey, according to BOCES Superintendent Charles Khoury, who presented the results to the Onteora board, nearly 34 percent were district teachers, support teachers and administrative staff. Around 23 percent were residents who did not have children currently attending school in the district. Fifty students or 13.48 percent also responded.
The survey pointed to other less desired rankings such as administrator, and working in a large and diverse district. Khoury said mid-March, “at the very latest,” will be the deadline for applicants. Vacancy for the position has already been published throughout the State, and there are nine applicants. Khoury stated that the process is still in a very early stage.
Later during public commentary, History teacher and Onteora Teacher Association President Corey Cavallaro spoke about inclusion. “In the last 25 years, the Onteora district has gone through ten Superintendents and I’d like you to reflect on the process we’ve used in the past ten years on selecting our Superintendents.” He said that recent selections were conducted differently from years past. “Are those processes working for our best interest in the Onteora school district? And if you come to the conclusion that those processes over ten years are not in our best interest, I suggest you revisit the process you used when we did hire Superintendent Hal Rowe or Justine Winters.” He said he would be willing to sit down with the board or delegates from the board and discuss those processes of “how we hired those Superintendents with the longest tenures in the last 25 years…”
Following the BOCES survey results was another survey presented by Bennett Principal Gabriel Buono and PTA secretary Heather Roberts that proposes improvements to the Bennett playground. “Four years ago when we reconfigured,” said Buono, “I did not take into consideration with Common Core and all the other changes that were occurring in our district, a playground.” He worked with student Government and came up with the survey in seeking a more age appropriate play area. During the reconfiguration, Bennett went from a Kindergarten-through-six school, to grades four-through-six. Between 245-250 students at Bennett responded to the survey. The two most requested items were a pavilion for shade and assembling with friends, and more climbing equipment. The PTA came up with two proposals; a climbing area estimated to cost between $20,000 and $30,000, and a shade pavilion estimated to cost between $20,000 and $50,000. A request was made that it be included in the 2016/17 budget. “I think it’s important to identify this age group of kids and they want to climb and jump and play, but they also want to hang out with their peers,” Roberts said. Trustee Rob Kurnit said it should go through the facilities committee and with the people who were involved with the playgrounds at Phoenicia and Woodstock schools. “I think you should think big picture, rather than limiting it,” Kurnit said.
One size doesn’t fit all
Student representative Raegan Loheide reported that students had voiced concerns over a potential policy that will dictate student homework. “We didn’t really see a way that there could be a comprehensive policy about homework” she said, “because of the unique classroom setting for each student and each teacher.” She said that AP classes are different from regular classes, and that could, “impair what teachers do.” She called homework overall, “a huge stress factor for students,” and suggested that tests get spread out more evenly, and that homework not be assigned during breaks or holidays. Later during committee reports, Trustee Kevin Salem agreed that “there is no one size fits all policy.” He suggested that before making a homework policy, it would be good to explore how teachers give out homework and how it’s implemented through grade levels.
Drug abuse forum
The district will hold a community forum on drug abuse at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 10 at the Middle/High school auditorium. Guest will include representatives of rehab centers, law enforcement, community service providers, as well as recovering addicts and family members affected by drug abuse. In the event of snow, the date will change to February 11.