The Onteora Central School District Board of Education held a brief meeting on Tuesday, November 22, at Bennett Elementary School with acting School Board President Kevin Salem declaring, “This is the most efficient Board on earth!”
Trustees discussed the proposed Director of Technology position with Superintendent Bruce Watson explaining that the original job description draft was too broad. “It would be very difficult to find a person,” Watson said. “In fact when simplified you’re talking two categories — one would be a highly technical skill set, the other would be lead in professional development with infusion of technology in the classroom.” The technology committee made changes to the job description after it reviewed classroom technology and who administered it. As a result, the committee came up with a list of responsibilities that currently is carried out in a piecemeal fashion, with various staff signing on, and earning extra duty stipends. The stipend positions would be eliminated, and folded into a new administrative position with a possible salary of up to $110,000, depending on certain experience parameters.
Watson outlined his view. “There is equipment that needs to be changed out, there’s high level equipment that is coming down the pike…our infrastructure is important to keep strong, and we need someone to oversee the whole staff and have a vision.”
Currently Bennett School principal Gabe Buono and High School principal Lance Edelman oversee the technology infrastructure. “They’ve done a wonderful job,” said Watson, “but it’s too much on their plate and we can’t continue to do that and expect to be on the cutting edge of technology.” Watson detailed a 2014-community survey that revealed a need for someone to oversee technology within the classrooms in addition to offering training to staff. The recommendation was for a new full time position and responsibilities that include implementation related to technical infrastructure, systems, network infrastructure, budgeting for technology, and oversight relating to staff development on technology.
During public commentary, Weston Blelock, a critic of wireless technology who alleges that it is harmful to children, updated Watson on his concerns. “I am a resident of Woodstock, and since 2014 I have been advocating for Internet service to be hardwired throughout the school district,” said Blelock. He listed a timeline that included the WiFi taskforce (that was dismantled) and a liability threat in March of 2016. He also said that from February to November 2016, over 700 people signed a petition that requested WiFi shutdown throughout the district.
In other news…
- School board representative Gabrielle Raphael updated the board on the new Eagle mascot. “The student Government has been moving forward on the eagle drawing competition. We received all the submissions and we chose four, two of which will be voted on, and to be put on jersey’s and t-shirts, and then two of them will be voted on to be painted on the wall for more artistic purposes.” The school wide voting begins after the winter break.
- Salem who has been acting as board president while Bobbi Schnell takes a leave of absence will be out until December 13, thus unable serve as Board President during that time. Trustee Valerie Storey was chosen to take over responsiblities, which includes signing of documents during that period.