Snow days eat into schedule
By Pamela Doan
Interviews for a new superintendent are still in process and the Garrison Union Free School District Board of Education may make an announcement as soon as the end of the month.
“The community advisory board met with three candidates at the end of January and gave the board their input,” said Board President Raymond O’Rourke. “On the basis of their input and our own subsequent interviews, we have narrowed the field and are in the final stages.” Dr. Brian Monahan is the interim superintendent.
Monahan spoke at the beginning of the Feb. 12 meeting about his first few weeks. “I have been impressed by the PTA and the Garrison Children’s Education Fund,” Monahan said. “There is an incredible level of support from this community.” He praised the school as being “ahead of the curve on environmental education” and said, “I have noticed from being in classes that your kids speak incredibly well. The language skills should be commended to parents and teachers.”
Currently, the school has used up all their snow days and all their make-up days. Three days have been cut from the Easter break already. “If we go beyond that,” Monahan said, “I will be bringing you a plan to deal with it. The state will not give you a waiver until you’ve exhausted all your possibilities.” The first three days of the Easter break will be in session now. Board member Diana Swinburne recommended that extra snow days be built into the next school calendar. Monahan will present the school calendar for 2014-15 at an upcoming meeting for review.
The budget process for the next school year is also in process. With a small increase in state aid, Monahan said that he did not anticipate major changes in the budget, but that as usual, there are several moving targets beyond the school’s control. Enrollment, high school choice, and meeting the needs of special needs students can all fluctuate right up until shortly before school begins. Monahan said, “We will budget conservatively.” The first budget workshop will be on Feb. 26, and there will be a board presentation at an upcoming meeting.
Environmental education got a boost. Garrison was awarded a $5,000 grant for environmental education from the Malcolm Gordon Charitable Fund, part of the Open Space Institute. This is the first time that GUFS has been awarded this grant for the School Forest Day and programs tied to environmental education.
“We’re really thrilled,” said Principal Stephanie Impellettiere. “We’ve made a real effort to find more funds for this program.” The Malcolm Gordon Fund has awarded Garrison with grants for other programs at the school in the past.
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