Little public interest in LL school budget

By PETE KLEIN

Express News Staff

LONG LAKE – About 15 members of the public attended the Long Lake Central School District Board of Education meeting and a public hearing on the 2013/14 school budget Tuesday, May 14, with the meeting generating more comment than the budget.

The sole comment on the budget came from former BOE member Jules Comeau, who expressed his opposition “to any consideration to extend current bus routes approximately 10 miles to the school district border with the Tupper Lake School District for the purpose of providing transportation to non-resident students.”

The proposed budget of $3.97 million is up $69,108 or 1.7 percent from the 2012/13 $3.9 million budget.

It went up slightly from the last draft to provide a separate, five half days per week pre-k class. Pre-k currently is three half days a week combined with the kindergarten.

Projected revenues of $1.37 million include $285,000 of appropriated planned balance from the current budget. This leaves a tax levy of $2.6 million and an estimated tax rate of $3.88 per $1,000 of assessed value, an increase of $0.12 or 3.3 percent over the current $3.75. This adds $12.37 in taxes on a home assessed at $100,000 and would increase the tax on such a property from $375.32 to $387.69.

The tax levy is just below the district’s maximum allowable increase under the state-mandated tax cap, which is 3.3114 percent. Voting will be held in the cafeteria Tuesday, May 21, from 2-8 p.m.

THE MEETING

The meeting proved a bit frustrating for many because it was called to order at 6 p.m. and the BOE immediately entered an executive session that lasted until 7 p.m., when it was time for the public hearing in the gym to begin.

After the public hearing, which lasted about 20 minutes, the meeting was reconvened in the cafeteria. It began with BOE member Michael Nerney asking to rescind two resolutions he moved at the board’s April 14 meeting, both adopted with 3-2 votes.

The first was to allow BOE members to visit the school during school hours so they could conduct staff interviews.

The second was to have the BOE conduct Annual Professional Performance Reviews of staff. Nerney wanted to rescind the resolution because he has since learned conducting APPRs requires extensive training he does not have the time to take.

The board voted to rescind both.

FRATERNIZATION

Next up was a proposal by BOE members Nerney and Kristen Brosnan to adopt a Fraternization Policy that begins with: “This policy is developed in response to concerns from district employees who believe that there are romantic relationships occurring in the workplace, in which a supervisor is having a relationship with a subordinate. This policy addresses the perception by some employees that these relationships create a hostile work environment and/or an environment of perceived favoritism.”

The proposed policy goes on to state romantic relationships are detrimental to the school and should be met with disciplinary action that could include termination.

But the policy includes an exception when it concludes with, “A district employee who is engaged in a romantic relationship that is covered by this policy shall not be considered in violation for the continuous duration of the relationship, provided the relationship existed prior to the first public notice of this policy and continued through its effective date.”

The first reading of the Fraternization Policy was endorsed by Nerney, Brosnan and outgoing BOE President Hallie Bond. No votes came from members Christine Blumberg and Christine Campeau.

Several of the public commented on this proposal, all expressing opposition, some quite vehemently, and stating their support of Dickerson, who admits to having a friendship with an employee at the school.

TENURE

The BOE voted unanimously to grant tenure to teachers Noelle Short (English) and Kristin Delehanty (kindergarten / pre-k).

Blumberg and Campeau voted to grant tenure to teacher Joseph Koehring (French, Spanish) while Nerney and Brosnan voted against granting him tenure. Bond wants more information so the matter was effectively tabled.

In other business:

-- Jerry Flanagan is now a substitute cleaner.

-- The board approved an overnight field trip to Tupper Lake by members of the National Honor Society so they can take part in the Relay for Life June 15-16.

The next meeting of the LLCS BOE will be Thursday, June 13, staring at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria.

peterklein@hamiltoncountyexpress.com