ICC student board member reports smooth start


KINDERHOOK—The Ichabod Crane Board of Education appointed Ruth Moore to an open seat on the board at the October 6 meeting. Ms. Moore will finish the term of board member Jessica Berner, who resigned in September. The term will run through May 2021.

School Board President Matthew Nelson thanked the candidates who applied for the board seat. He said after the district announced the vacancy on the board they received several responses. The board met with two of those respondents at a special meeting September 29.

At the start of Tuesday’s meeting, the board went into a brief executive session, then reopened the public session and appointed Ms. Moore. Mr. Nelson said that she will bring a “tremendous amount” of experience to the board. Ms. Moore was until recently the executive director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension for Dutchess County.

The board held the meeting in-person at the primary school cafeteria and online with Zoom.

Amy Pedrick, from West and Company CPAs, presented the district’s audit report remotely, saying that once again the district received an unmodified or “clean opinion.” Ms. Pedrick praised the district for having all the information for the audit together this year. She said that much of the audit was done remotely due to the pandemic.

District Business Manager Michael Brennan reported that a July payment of state aid that had been reduced by 20% was now made whole and that the district has received a full payment of aid in September.

‘All students are happy to see their teachers again.’

Erin Curry, student member

ICC Board of Education

The state had warned that school aid might be cut by 20% due to loss of state revenue. Mr. Brennan said the district might not know if future aid payments will be cut until November. He said a 20% cut in state aid would mean a $3-million reduction in the school district’s budget and that the district had plans for how to make up the deficit if that happens. He said there are revenues and fund balances and the district would look at cuts in supplies.

The board also heard a report from the student representative on the board, Erin Curry, on how school opening is going. Erin said, “all students are happy to see their teachers again.” She also said the online remote learning programs have gotten much better since the spring, when the district closed the buildings due to the pandemic. This year, all students in grades 6 through 12, have in-person classes two days a week and online classes three days a week. Students in kindergarten through grade 5 are in school five days a week. Students also had the choice to attend school only remotely. “The screen breaks and the mask breaks have been very helpful,” she said of the program.

School Superintendent Suzanne Guntlow said during her report that if parents have concerns about the program, they should contact the school administrators. She was happy to hear Erin’s report, saying, “It’s what we were aiming for over the summer” while planning for the new school year.

Ms. Guntlow also thanked the board members for their service, acknowledging that it will be board appreciation week soon.

Also at the meeting:

• The board held a public hearing on the District-Wide Safety Plan. There was no comment. The plan is on the district website, www.ichabodcrane.org

• The board approved a new school calendar adding some half-days for the primary school. During public comment when asked about snow days, Ms. Guntlow said that the district would still close school if weather is bad and not continue remote learning on those days. The school has planned for five snow days in the calendar this year

• Ms. Guntlow reported that the district’s capital improvement project is on schedule and that the high school guidance wing should be completed by November and the art rooms in December, as well some classrooms in the middle school.

The next regular board meeting will be November 3 at 7 p.m.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email eteasdale@columbiapaper.com

Positive test does not prompt changes

KINDERHOOK—On October 5, the Ichabod Crane School District emailed parents and guardians saying that the district had been notified that a middle school student tested positive for Covid-19. The email said that the student has not physically been in school since September 15.

In-person classes started for one group of middle school students on September 14. The middle school building has groups of students in grades 6 through 8 in the building on Mondays and Tuesdays, and the other group of students attends Thursdays and Fridays. 4 and 5 grades are also in the middle school building five days a week.

The email to parents reads: “Because the student has not been in a school building since that date, we have been advised by the Columbia County Department of Health that there is no need to change our operations. This means school buildings will continue operating on their normal schedule and there is no district impact at this time,”

The text was also posted on the district website, www.ichabodcrane.org

Due to privacy requirements, the district could not divulge any further information about any individual who has a confirmed case of Covid-19. Per the governor’s Executive Order, districts must report the number of confirmed cases on a daily basis to the state Department of Health, according to the email.

“We ask that all school families, students and staff members continue following all safety guidelines outside of school hours, including wearing masks when in public, social distancing, limiting group gatherings and practicing good hygiene,” the email says.–Emilia Teasdale

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