Garrison School Task Force Reports on Croton Visit

Board hires homebound instructors, bids goodbye to staff member

By Lois Powers

At their meeting Wednesday, May 29, Garrison Union Free School (GUFS) Board of Education members discussed the benefits of engaging in educational partnerships with other school districts and touted the benefits to students and teachers of using technology advances in the classroom. Superintendent Gloria Colucci, Board President Raymond O’Rourke, Vice President Diana Swinburne, Board Members Jim Cannon, Anita Prentice and Charlotte Rowe also voted to hire two teachers for homebound students, dutifully accepted the resignation of District Clerk Jinx Remson, and approved a $106,579 contract with BOCES and a $3,090 agreement with Centris Group for IEP Direct Services, a computer consulting service.

The board’s hiring of two homebound instruction teachers adheres to a New York State Education Department mandate that schools provide instruction to students unable to attend class due to illness or accident — one hour per day for lower grades and two hours per day for higher grades. As a result, the board approved hiring Jan Cucchiarella for one hour per school day from May 10 through May 17 and Jennifer Kirkpatrick for two hours per school day effective May 9 through June 21, at $38 per hour, to accommodate sick pupils registered at the school.

Led by Colucci, the board discussed a task force meeting with Westchester middle and elementary schools in Croton. The task force investigates successful programs in other schools with the goal of determining whether they could be implemented at Garrison School and was formed earlier this year, after being suggested by parents in several public workshops to revise the board’s goals and objectives.

O’Rourke asked Principal Stephanie Impellittiere for her reaction to the task force’s visit to Croton. She reported on their technology component, with every student having access to a laptop and tech assistants readily available. She was also impressed with the level of student engagement despite larger class size, and found classrooms and class furniture bigger and more comfortable, which with the classroom layout created a more conducive learning and participation environment for students. “Their lab is spectacular!” the principal added enthusiastically.

As a small public school with students in grades K-8, the Garrison School has experienced, along with other smaller schools, the effects of the recent recession. When home sales plunged, families were unable to sell, which in turn prevented new, younger families from moving into the area, thereby decreasing school enrollment in the early grades, said Colucci in a follow-up phone interview. Brainstorming with colleagues in other school districts was supported at the meeting by all members.

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