Backyard Sheds

Chatham cites academics as reason to shift 5th grade


CHATHAM – The 5th grade in Chatham Central School District will move from the middle school to the elementary school for the 2012-13 school year. The school board approved the move unanimously at the regular meeting last week.

“I’m excited,” said Mary E. Dardess Elementary School Principal Kristen Reno after the meeting. The move will mean she is responsible for grades kindergarten through 5th. The middle school on Woodbridge Avenue in the village will house 6th through 8th grades. Students move back to the main campus, where the elementary and high schools are, in 9th grade.

The board had been is discussing the move for several months, hearing heard presentations from the 5th grade teachers and schools Superintendent Cheryl Nuciforo.

Ms. Nuciforo also hosted a meeting with parents in December to discuss the move. At that meeting she emphasized that the change is an academic decision not a choice made because of space. The district is currently conducting a facilities study, but Ms. Nuciforo said that is separate from the plan to move the students to the elementary school, and it has nothing to do with closing a school building.

At the January 31 meeting the board also heard a presentation from Questar III BOCES Superintendent James Baldwin about sharing services. Questar, which serves all public schools in Columbia County and well as districts in Rensselaer and Greene counties, is in the process of developing a business office that school districts can use instead of having their own in-house business staff and offices. Dr. Baldwin told the board that using a shared business office would “reduce the amount that [districts] spend collectively.”

He also mentioned the transportation study Questar is conducting with schools in Southern Rensselaer County and the Ichabod Crane School District about a shared transportation department. And Questar may create a shard human resources department for schools in the BOCES district.

The district is looking at possible increase in state aid, said interim business administrator Chuck Snyder at the meeting. In the governor’s budget now under discussion in Albany, the Chatham district would get a 9.7% increase, but Mr. Snyder said there is no guarantee the district will receive that money, because it is still early in the state budget negotiation cycle. So he anticipates applying only 60% of the proposed increase in his budget planning for 2012-13. The state budget is supposed to be in place by April 1 of each year.

Mr. Snyder also discussed selling district bonds over the next few months. He is predicting that the district would save about $422,000 over eight years if it sells the bonds on the open market.

The next regular board meeting will be Tuesday, February 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the Mary E. Daredess Elementary School Library.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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