Catching Up with the Haldane School Board

Highlights from recent meetings

■ The Haldane school board agreed to a settlement with the parents of a disabled student who said the district had not provided their child with the same level of public education given to other students. The district agreed to reimburse the parents $41,350 for three years of private-school tuition, as well as up to $15,000 for counseling, transportation and attorney’s fees.

■ The district’s outdoor education committee created 18 classroom spaces, two tented spaces and areas for art and music to allow for social distancing. The Haldane School Foundation donated $1,000 for picnic blankets.

■ Principal Julia Sniffen said the high school plans to test a program called Facing History and Ourselves in its English and history departments. According to facinghistory.org, the program’s curriculum “heightens students’ understanding of racism, religious intolerance and prejudice; increases students’ ability to relate history to their own lives; and promotes greater understanding of their roles and responsibilities in a democracy.” The nonprofit, which was founded in 1976, also states that it believes “the bigotry and hate that we witness today are the legacy of brutal injustices of the past.”

■ The board approved hiring two elementary teachers, at a cost of about $180,000 with salaries and benefits, to provide support for students in kindergarten through third grade who are learning entirely from home.

■ The board agreed to a contract with Millburn Flooring to replace the school cafeteria floor for $41,500.

■ The board approved instruction contracts with the Garrison district and St. Basil’s Academy for $13,980 per student. There are 45 students attending Haldane High School who live in the Garrison district and five who reside at St. Basil’s Academy in Garrison.

■ The district awarded tenure to high school English teacher David Dougherty and English as a Second Language instructor Barbara Jennings. It also granted tenure to teaching assistants Carolyn Llewellyn and Alexis Smith.

■ Jen Daly was elected as president and John Hedlund as vice president of the five-member board.

■ The district signed an agreement with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department to have a deputy on campus for 2020-21 at a cost of $61,690. A second law-enforcement position, for a school peace officer, was eliminated.

■ The district signed an agreement with Verizon to provide internet services for $17,500 annually. It had been paying Cablevision $33,000.

■ The district hired Katie Boonshoft as a visual arts teacher for $67,000 annually to succeed Tom Locascio. At the high school, it hired Kathleen DeSocio as an English teacher for $69,000 and Rebecca Masback as a special education teacher for $52,000. In addition, Travis Davidson was hired for $48,000 as the music/choral teacher, succeeding Melissa Frabotta. The board appointed Jessica Stein as a music teacher for all grades at a salary of $60,000.

■ The board voted to re-issue its call for proposals to paint the gym/auditorium after the low bidder failed to provide adequate references. It contracted with NRG Home Improvement of Cortlandt Manor to renovate the gym/auditorium bathrooms for $27,640.

■ The board updated the district code of conduct to apply to students taking part in distance learning. It also updated its athletic and extracurricular code of conduct to say that students are expected to “communicate with their coach or club advisor if they are having a problem or need assistance.”

■ The board accepted bids from Pidala Oil of Cold Spring to provide heating oil and hot water service and from Sinon Farms of Poughkeepsie to provide milk.

■ The board approved transfers from the excess fund balance of $50,000 to offset the 2020-21 tax levy, $92,000 to the school lunch fund, $100,000 to the TRS Retirement Reserve Fund and $150,000 to liability reserves.

■ The board met in person on Aug. 22 for the first time since March. Its next meeting will be held Oct. 6.


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