At their annual reorganization and business meeting on July 10, members of the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Board of Education:
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.
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 us."
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.
The 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
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 year
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 step schedule.
"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 give-backs.
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.
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 the library, including a formal bronze plaque.