January 6, 2004

Marcy site plan presented

School Board members commended Marcy Elementary School staff members on the school’s site plan report and outstanding academic performance. Principal Donald Behrens, Ph.D., reported on the plan including tactics that are to:

  • create and disseminate a vision statement;
  • improve communication among Marcy community members;
  • increase student achievement through curriculum articulation; and
  • improve individual achievement through use of effective and innovative practices.

Behrens reported that on most measures of academic achievement, Marcy students continued to perform well including longitudinal data of Marcy alumni in middle school.

School Board member Deborah Briggs complimented the school for its vision statement.

Behrens also noted that the school switched its mascot from a mustang to an eagle. The new mascot appears on all appropriate documents and clothing, according to Behrens.

District enters agreement with village for water services

The Village of Sussex — with the School Board’s approval of an intermunicipal agreement — will provide water service for Hamilton High School. The district will pay the costs of construction, connection, maintenance and reconstruction of all mains, pumps and other facilities to provide water service to the school that is located in the Town of Lisbon. In addition, the district will pay other costs including a reserve capacity assessment, the expense for lateral service from the lot line to the building and usual and customary water rates.

Teacher request for leave narrowly approved

A request from a first grade teacher to take a 4-day unpaid leave of absence was narrowly approved. The approval for Maple Avenue first grade teacher Nicole Farrar was approved by a 3-2 vote that included contingencies making future requests less likely.

Farrar requested use of a paid personal day along with four unpaid days Jan. 26-30 so that she could accompany her husband who will be recognized at his company’s recognition banquet in Cabo San Lucas.

The request included provisions that the United Lakewood Educators union would consider the action a “nonprecedent setting” decision for future requests. The teachers’ contract allows certified staff members to take one paid personal day and one unpaid day each year. The approval included the stipulation that in addition to not being paid for four days, Farrar would be responsible for substitute teacher costs during the unpaid leave.

School Board members debated the decision that would take a teacher out of a classroom.

Jennifer Rude Klett said having a teacher out of the classroom for one week would be a disruption for students no matter how well lesson plans were prepared for the substitute teacher. She noted that the school handbook encourages parents not to schedule family vacation when school is in session.

While agreeing with Klett’s points, Briggs argued that the district should consider the extenuating circumstances Farrar presented. She also noted there would be no additional burden on the community or taxpayers because the substitute teacher costs would be covered by Farrar.

Gerald Schmitz said he was apprehensive because of the impact the decision would have on future contract negotiations regarding the use of personal days.

“This (approving the unpaid leave) bothers me because once you start down that road, it always seems to catch up with you,” Schmitz said.

Board members Dawn Van Aacken and Briggs voted to approve the request while Schmitz and Klett opposed it. School Board President Gabe Kolesari cast the tie-breaking vote to approve the request, but stipulated that the district’s legal counsel should review the decision to protect the district from future requests.

Board approves 40 policies

Some 40 district policies received approval after their second reading. The approval is part of an overall policy review. Most policy changes involved only minor word changes to reflect new technology or job titles, while others were revised to reflect current practices. Some policies were reviewed and approved without changes.

Personnel matters approved

In personnel matters, the School Board:

  • accepted the resignation of Maple Avenue assistant cook Patrice Castner effective Dec. 23, 2003; and
  • appointed Kevin Schein as a Templeton cleaner effective Jan. 5.