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Ichabod Crane picks John Chandler for seat on board

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VALATIE — The Ichabod Crane Central School District Board of Education announced Wednesday that its members will appoint John Chandler of Valatie to the board. He will replace Gary Bagnato, who resigned effective September 15.

Mr. Chandler was one of eight candidates seeking appointment to the board. The appointment lasts until next May, when voters in the district will select someone to fill a vacant three-year term on the board.

Mr. Chandler is a graduate of Hudson High School and a lifelong Columbia County resident. He attended the State University College at Buffalo, the University at Albany and Albany Law School. He works at Ballston Spa National Bank.

The Board of Education began the search process for a new member in September seeking letters of interest from community residents.  Three applicants for the position were interviewed by the board at its public meeting on Tuesday, October 5 and five more were interviewed at its public meeting on Tuesday, October 19.

“We are gratified to learn that eight qualified individuals were committed to the education of the children in this community, and we welcome Mr. Chandler in his capacity as  board member,” Lee A. Bordick, interim  superintendent of schools, said in a press release announcing the appointment.

Mr. Chandler was interviewed at the Tuesday evening, October 19 meeting along with John Sweeney, Amy Melino, Jeffrey Ouellette and Christine Radaz. The board interviewed Susan Ramos, Landra Haber and Michelle Warner October.

At the October 19 meeting the board also discussed the recent community forum the district hosted two weeks ago to address the demographic study the district had done last year that showed enrollment is declining. Participants at the forum they discussed how that trend would affect curriculum, budgeting and facilities. The board plans to hold another forum Thursday, October 28 at 7 p.m.

Board members said that the 20 people who came to the meeting were concerned about possible plans to close one of the district’s two elementary schools and the prospect of consolidation with another district. Board member Regina Rose said of the closing of a school, “It’s just talk right now; we really don’t have any data.”

They also talked about the age of the small group that attended the forum, suggesting that they might not be the people who had young children in the district. Board member Bruce Naramore ask that the board and the administration “put an all-out effort in to get the younger demographic” at the next forum.

As for the concerns about consolidation, Interim Superintendent Bordick said that he and the board president met with their counterparts at the Schodack Central School District. The districts were awarded a grant to conduct a functional consolidation study and Mr. Bordick has stressed at meetings in the past that the two districts are considering sharing certain services not outright consolidation. At the Tuesday night’s meeting he said, “We’re still moving forward with the process.”

Mr. Bordick also talked to the board about the Race to the Top funds, part of federal funds awarded to the state for school improvement. He said that Ichabod Crane may receive up to $54,000 that can be used for a one-time improvement project or over the four years of the grant. “It’s not a lot of money,” he said, but he thought the district had enough flexibility with the funds to use them for something that meets the board’s concerns.

He also said that the high school will be a voting site on Election Day, November 2 at no extra cost to the district. The school plans to make it a learning experience for students and host some fundraising bake sales for different high school clubs. Mr. Bordick said that the Board of Elections is using the high school because of issues with a voting site on State Farm Road.

The next regular board meeting will be Tuesday November 9 at 7p.m. The community forum will be in the middle school LGI room at 7p.m. on October 28.

Regular Board of Education meetings are held the first Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. in the Middle School Library. A complete schedule can be found on the district’s website at www.ichabodcrane.org/boardSched.html.  All members of the community are encouraged to attend.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email eteasdale@columbiapaper.com.

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