Press release of July 12, 2012
Board of Education selects new president & assistant superintendent, approves
contract with administrators' union
New assistant superintendent Christopher Abdoo will
start at BH-BL on September 10
BURNT HILLS: At their annual
reorganization and business meeting on July 10,
members of the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Board of
||Elected new board
officers for the 2012-13 school year,
Abdoo to be the district's next
assistant superintendent for support
||Approved a new
negotiated contract with the BH-BL
grants totaling $29,500, and
||Voted to rename the
high school library the "James L.
Schultz Library Media Center" to honor
former superintendent Jim Schultz, who
retired on June 30.
At the start of the meeting,
Elizabeth Herkenham was elected president of the
Board of Education and Lee-Ann Mertzlufft, vice
president. A nine-year veteran of the BH-BL school
board, Herkenham previously served as president in
2006-07. Mertzlufft is currently beginning her third
year of service on the school board.
Abdoo to be new assistant
Board of Education members voted
unanimously to accept the recommendation of
superintendent Patrick McGrath and to hire
Christopher Abdoo as the district's new assistant
superintendent for support services.
Now the director of business and
finance for the Rome City Schools, Abdoo will assume
his BH-BL duties on September 10 and will have a
chance to train with the current assistant
superintendent, Jacqueline St. Onge, who is retiring
after 25 years with BH-BL.
"The fact that we received 28
completed applications from people wishing to take
on this position even in today's almost impossible
fiscal environment for schools is a huge compliment
to BH-BL in general and to Ms. St. Onge's track
record in particular," noted McGrath. "I'm confident
that Chris Abdoo is someone who can continue and
build upon the legacy that Ms. St. Onge has given
As assistant superintendent, Abdoo
will oversee all financial operations of the
district including a $56.9 million budget, capital
improvement planning, debt service, and audit
functions. He will also be responsible for
non-instructional services, specifically for
buildings and grounds, pupil transportation, food
services, and health and safety.
"I've heard nothing but positive
things about this district," Abdoo told the board.
"I appreciate the opportunity to serve Burnt
Hills-Ballston Lake and look forward to continuing
the tradition of excellence that is synonymous with
the BH-BL schools."
Abdoo holds a bachelors degree from
SUNY Binghamton and a MS from Syracuse. He also
earned permanent state certification as a
school district administrator and school business
administrator from SUNY Cortland. In addition to one
year with the Rome school district, his experience
includes three and a half years as business
administrator of the Frankfort-Schuyler schools.
New three-year contract with
Board of Education also ratified a negotiated agreement
with the BH-BL Administrators Organization. Members
of the 17-person bargaining unit had voted earlier to ratify
The new contract covers a
three-year period from July 1, 2012 to June 30,
2015. It calls for salary schedule improvements of
1.0% in the first year, 1.25% in the second year, and
1.25% in the third year, plus experience increments.
Overall costs for salaries and
benefits in the new agreement will increase by 1.8%
in each year. The contract will increase costs to
the school district by a total of $106,089 over the
three year period, or by approximately $35,000 per
The agreement covers 17
administrators including principals, assistant
principals, and academic department heads, several
of whom also have part-time teaching duties. This
number is down from 19 bargaining unit members in
the previous (2009) contract since BH-BL has combined
several academic department head positions in an
effort to cut costs.
Under the new contract, current
members of the Administrators Organization will
continue to receive step increases for their first
ten years of administrative experience, but members
hired after July 1, 2012, will no longer be on a
"The district values the leadership
that our administrative team provided in this
contract," says superintendent Patrick McGrath.
"Members of the bargaining unit recognized the
difficult budget climate facing schools today, and
we are grateful that their actions will help BH-BL
be better prepared to face the fiscal challenges
that the future will bring."
The new contract continues efforts
made by the Administrators Organization over the
past two years to save the district money, including
taking on additional teaching duties and financial
Negotiating on behalf of the school
district were Robert Van Vranken, Jacqueline St.
Onge, and Rick Evans. School Administrators
Association of NY State (SAANYS) representative
Jennie Pennington led the negotiations on behalf of
the administrators, along with Tim Brunson, Mike
Danis, Ralph Rothacker and Maryellen Symer.
Approval of grants & a new name
for the library
In other action on July 10, school
board members accepted two grants: a state bullet
grant of $25,000 from Senator Hugh Farley made
possible in part through a request from teacher Kurt
Semon, and a $4,500 grant from the Bender Scientific
Foundation of the Community Foundation for the
Greater Capital Region.
Assistant superintendent for
curriculum and instruction Rick Evans told the board
that the Farley grant was a surprise so
administrators will now look at the best way to
apply this money. The funds from Bender Scientific
will be used in the Math-Connect program to expand
learning opportunities in high school math classes
by integrating three separate technologies: Texas
Instrument TI-Nspire graphing calculators, TI-Nspire
Navigator software, and classroom SmartBoards.
Following up on an intention they
previously announced at the June 20 retirement party
for former superintendent Jim Schultz, the board
formally voted to rename the high school library in
Schultz's honor. The library will now be known as
the "James L. Schultz Library Media Center" in
recognition of his 41 years of service to BH-BL.
Board members chose the library not
only because Schultz began his life's work in that
building in 1971, right out of college, as a high
school English and Latin teacher, but also because
he himself graduated from the school as a member of
the BH-BL Class of 1967 and was devoted to knowledge
and learning throughout his career.
New signage will now be ordered for
including a formal bronze plaque.