Ithaca Times

Straw Poll Vote for School Merger

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Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 3:00 am

The Candor School Board met for their regular meeting on Thursday, September 19 and welcomed Jeff Matteson, superintendent of TST BOCES, who came to see one of his member boards in action.

It wasn’t the most discussed action item, but the board did pass a resolution to hold a straw poll vote for the public on a proposed merger between Candor and Spencer-Van Etten. The vote will be held on December 3 from 12 noon until 9 p.m. School board president Ray Parmarter said that this was just the next step in the process and that this vote did not reflect any personal votes on the merger itself, but rather that this resolution is simply to bring the issue to popular vote. This vote is what was called the straw poll vote. Each community will hold a vote on whether or not to go forward with a merger and both communities pass the straw poll vote separately, then a final, official vote will be held in early 2014.

Matteson said that should the straw poll go through, the BOCES staff would help with whatever was needed to get a vote together. He said that TST BOCES is currently working with South Seneca after their straw poll vote to merge with Romulus was successful in both communities. Matteson said he was also happy to see that the State Education Department chose TST as new districts’ BOCES, should the two district merge. TST is the BOCES for Candor, while Spencer-Van Etten belongs to Greater Southern Tier (GST) BOCES.

Hope Van Scoy, who is the district’s new representative on the TST BOCES board was at the meeting with Matteson to take in a board meeting. Matteson is also new, having been hired as the BOCES superintendent within the last year. Matteson wants to get to know all the boards of his member districts and was visiting at this meeting to do just that. He was glad to see how well the board worked together. The board asked him how his board was treating him, and Matteson said he had a group that was easy to work with and that he was glad to be past the initial stages of the job. The BOCES board had a big job in finding a new superintendent. Matteson also said that each time a BOCES goes through a change at superintendent, there is an audit done by the state to see if the BOCES is still viable, he said it was good to see that TST was found to be running well.

Otherwise, the administrators and school superintendent Jeff Kisloski all had words of thanks to their staff for getting the school up and running for the new school year. Part of the success came from help from student workers from the district’s in-house summer school. The district has run this school for the past few years, but this year instead of the high school principal, Wayne Aman, running the program while also handling high school duties, Candor teacher Mike Swartz was administering the program as part of an internship. Aman said having Swartz there to take some of the responsibilities was very helpful and that Swartz did very well in handling the program. Swartz gave a report at the meeting on the program and said that there were 10 middle school students, four high school students and two students who were completing courses off campus. Swartz reported that five students finished all the credits they needed to catch up and three seniors earned their diplomas. The middle school students had a work study component in their program, which included time with the buildings and grounds crew. Their help was a bonus according to operations manager Bern Smith, and one of the board members noted that the work study usually gives the kids a different perspective of how schools are maintained.

Swartz is also helping with administrative tasks in the elementary school part of the day. Kim Nichols, the elementary principal, said that having him around has also been a help, as they’ve been able to hand off more items then they expected to him. Nichols also said that the new math standards have been pushing teachers, to the point where she observed a 20-year elementary school veteran teacher have to check back to her notes several times during the same lesson. She said that teachers are feeling a little overwhelmed by the new standards, but Nichols recently attended a regional conference and learned that the Candor teachers weren’t that far behind in respect to other districts.

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