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Chatham school board will fill seat with appointee


CHATHAM–The Board of Education has decided interview candidates and then appoint a district resident to fill the vacant board seat.

Board members hope to find someone by the first day of school on September 8. The person they appoint will fill the seat vacated by Jeannean Cheney and will serve on the board until the annual vote in May 2010.

The board made that decision at the Tuesday, August 11, workshop meeting at which members also discussed the new one-bell bussing system, co-principals at the high school, a proposed capital project and shared services with another district.


School board President John Wapner talked about finding a new board member with connections in the elementary school, since most of the current board members have students in high school or who have already graduated.

Board member Fred Hutchinson echoed that concern, saying the board is “missing the k through 8th grade prospective.”  Other board members talked about making the major time commitment clear to prospective board applicants.

The district will advertise for the position as soon as possible, and put information up on its website,

Also this week, the board began discussing a capital project that would have no tax impact. Using money from the capital reserve fund, federal stimulus and about $500,000 left over from last year’s budget, school officials plan to resolve some code violations and handicapped accessibility needs. “We were very intent that it did not create a burden on the taxpayers,” said district Superintendent Cheryl Nuciforo. She also said that the current $6-million capital improvement project is not addressing all the repairs district buildings need. The scope of work will be discussed at the next board meeting August 25. The board anticipates putting the project before voters in December.

Ms. Nuciforo said resolutions will be discussed at the August 25 meeting about having co-principals at the high school. The district’s decision in June to cut the assistant superintendent position created the need for administrative restructuring. Ms. Nuciforo said that having co-principals in the high school would split responsibility along subject area and grade level lines. She said that the proposal is an administrative system characteristic of high-performing schools.

She would not say whether current Assistant Principal John Thorsen will be promoted. Larry Burke, Assistant Principal at the Middle School will be getting new responsibilities, including interviewing and supervising new substitute teachers.

There was some talk of sharing the district’s food service supervisor with another district that is currently contracting out the position. Ms. Nuciforo said she was approached by the other district, which she did not name, and the two districts are still in discussions about expenses. “We wouldn’t have to pay as much of her salary,” said Ms. Nuciforo, which would be about a 20% savings to the district.

“At first blush, this is exactly what we’ve been talking about with shared services,” said Mr. Hutchinson, who, like most board was members, was supportive of sharing the position.

Ms. Nuciforo also reviewed the one-bell bussing system, will mean one bus run for all students k-through-12. The district is planning for 20 bus runs in September but will be reviewing the runs in October. Officials are also looking at the 40 requests for students who ride different busses on different days of the week.

“There would be a cost to accommodating there requests,” said Ms. Nuciforo. She also said that not meeting these requests would “upset” people. “The question is whether we can ask the rest of the district, the taxpayers, to foot the bill.”

“I don’t want to alienate a family,” said Mr. Hutchinson about not allowing students to get on different busses on certain days of the week to accommodate childcare needs or custody agreements. The district is not legally required to agree to these requests.

“If there is the ability to accommodate special requests we’ll do it,” said board member Denise Dapice. “But we don’t add busses.”

Adding a 20th bus is already costing the district $35,000.

Ms. Nuciforo emphasized that district officials are still working out the schedule and nothing is set yet.

The next board meeting is Tuesday, August 25, at 6:30 p.m. Due to construction, the meetings have been in the Mary E. Dardess Elementary School cafeteria. Check the website for information about upcoming meetings.  

Here’s how to apply

THE CHATHAM CENTRAL School District Board of Education will be conducting interviews to fill a vacancy on the school board effective September, 2009 until the annual election in May 2010 (see accompanying story). To qualify, candidates must be able to read and write, be 18 years of age or older, be and have been a resident of the district for at least one year.

Candidates should submit a letter of interest and resume by August 27 to Dr. John Wapner, president, Chatham Central School District, 50 Woodbridge Ave., Chatham, NY 12037.

For further information contact the district office at (518) 392-1501.

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