The Richfield Springs Board of Education met on Wednesday, February 25 with all members of the administrative staff present and all members of the board with the exception of Nancy Brown who had Ash Wednesday responsibilities at St. Joseph’s Church and could not attend.
Transportation Supervisor Mark Buddle, Special Education Director Melanie Welch, and Library Media Specialist Vicky Greenman gave budget reports for 2009-2010.
Included in Buddle’s transportation budget for next year is the replacement of one large school bus and replacement of the small bus that the district owns. Buddle explained that budgeting for gas is difficult due to the unpredictable market price of gasoline. More and more buses are being installed with radios and cameras. The 20-year-old radio repeater needs replacing and Buddle said perhaps sharing that cost with Owen D. Young Central School might be possible.
Greenman explained that in her library media services budget is a BOCES Service called On-Line Database and Expanded Interlibrary Loan Search Service. This service would provide students access to resources outside the school districts in Herkimer, Madison and Oneida Counties. This would help students in research projects and provide them with the ability to basically draw on any resource needed regardless of where it is available. Greenman’s budget included updates to the technology afforded to the students at RSCS and showed very little change over last year’s figures.
Welch explained to the board that the special education budget for the next school year calls for servicing eight students out of the district. She explained that grant money from the federal government can no longer be counted on and the district is working on being sanctioned as a 44-10 provider. This means that services provided by the school district employees may be subsidized and reimbursable by Otsego and Herkimer counties should those counties need school staff to service severely handicapped residents in physical therapy and special services. The school district would then receive county funds for those services.
In other business, the administration noted that shared service discussions continue with other districts; the New York State budget and school aid remains in question as the governor and legislators continue to hammer out a state budget; there will be no school for students on March 20, which will be a Superintendent’s Conference Day; and a merger study will be conducted for Herkimer BOCES with the departure of BOCES superintendent Sandy Simpson.
Assistant principal Therijo Climenhaga reported that a grant has been secured through RHENDOMS (Rural Health Education Network for Delaware, Otsego, Montgomery and Schoharie) counties. This is funded through NYS Office of Rural Health and administered by Bassett Healthcare staff. Hand sanitizers are being installed in the cafeteria and the district’s wellness committee has secure health resources for elementary teachers. Yoga materials (teacher’s guide, the cards) and 24 Yoga mats are being secured through the grant and teachers can use various Yoga cards throughout the day (incorporated into lessons). Teachers who are interested will get training on Superintendent Conference Day on March 20.
Board member Brad Smith noted that the health fair for middle school students in February was very successful and he commended the staff that was involved in the recent donkey basketball game and leukemia fundraising drive and appreciated their efforts. Smith noted that he will be interested to learn what the actual savings to the district will be when shared services information with other districts is given to the board and public in the 2009-2010 budget.
The next meeting of the board will be on Wednesday, March 1, at 7 p.m. in the school cafeteria. Information regarding the athletic and instructional portions of next year’s budget will be presented at that meaning.
Bruce Watson is a freelance writer for The Mercury and currently substitutes for ODY. He is a recent retiree of RSCS.