BOE awards diploma, considers tech

The Candor School Board began the regular session of their Nov. 21 meeting with a change to the agenda: granting a diploma to Fred Boudreaux.

District Superintendent Jeff Kisloski presented the Skills and Achievement Commencement Credential to Boudreaux, congratulating him on his achievements.

“When students complete their requirements out of sequence, the Board [of Education] invites them to receive their diploma at a meeting,” Kisloski said.

Not many students take up the offer, but Boudreaux did, inviting his family to the occasion. Tucking his diploma under his arm, he enthusiastically proceeded to shake the hands of each board member as well as district administrators present that evening.

Boudreaux said he was looking forward to working, and engaged in training for a job. Board members expressed congratulations and wished him success in his future endeavors, and Mike Blake passed around a plate of baked goodies to celebrate.

Licking frosting from their fingers, the board discussed the topics of healthy school lunches and an upcoming nutrition audit. State auditors will be looking at such things as the percentage of whole grains included in the meals as well as ensuring that the district is using proper procurement practices. In addition to taking a close look at every aspect of the district’s school lunch program, they will fill up their plates and eat whatever is served that day.

Matt Gelder, director of technology instruction, introduced a preliminary proposal for using funds provided through the Smart Schools Bond Act (SSBA). According to the NY State Education Department website, voters approved the SSBA in 2014. The legislation authorizes $2 billion in bonds to “finance improved educational technology and infrastructure to improve learning and opportunity for students.”

Candor’s allocation is $900,000, which can be used to buy technology equipment such as computers, tablets, interactive whiteboards and 3D printers as well as developing and improving high-speed broadband or wireless internet connectivity. Gelder proposed using the SSBA funds to replace laptops and other devices over the next six years. He also proposed using funds for maker space equipment and perhaps creating a lab for website design. Fortunately, there is no deadline by which funds must be used, however SSBA funds may only be used for hardware and software, so maintenance and upkeep costs fall on the schools.

Linda Padgett, serving on the TST BOCES Board of Education, reported on the NY State School Board Association conference recently held in Rochester. She was impressed with a presentation by Groton schools highlighting their STEAM classroom space. Another session focused on the threats of cybersecurity breaches in school districts. A number of schools in New York have been attacked and their computer data held hostage until a ransom is paid, Padgett said. And the trend for cyber extortion is on the rise.

This led to a brief discussion about whether the Candor School District has adequate measures in place to protect against a cyber-attack. Without revealing secrets, it’s safe to say that Gelder and Mike Williams, the district’s network administrator, have put safeguards in place to protect the district’s network. Even so, the biggest threat continues to be the chance of an individual accidentally clicking on a bad email link.

Briefly noted:

It is Holiday concert season. The Senior High and Junior High winter concert performances are Wednesday, Dec. 11 and Thursday, Dec. 12 respectively. Programs begin at 7 p.m. each evening and are in the High School auditorium. The Elementary School winter concert is Monday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium.

High School principal Wayne Aman thanked the school board for supporting the Alternative School’s field trip to New York City in October. “A lot of these kids have never been outside of Candor,” he said. During their city trek they visited the 9/11 memorial, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Battery Park, and Times Square. He had high praise for the faculty of the Alternative School, reminiscing about his early years teaching there.

Athletic director Peter Ahart reported that the girls volleyball team had won the division title and was headed to state competitions at Glens Falls on Nov. 22 and 23. He praised the sportsmanship of the fans and said they set a high bar for the winter sports fans. He also reported that the pitcher’s mound is getting much-needed work, though they may have to wait for the ground to freeze before trucking the material to the diamond.

Elementary School Principal Katie Volpicelli reported that the recent open house was a great success. She was proud to see her students showing off the school to their families. Also, at the beginning of the month, author-illustrator Daniel J. Miller presented programs and workshops during his visit to the school.

Homeschooling parent Mel Foster reported ongoing issues with filing quarterly reports to TST BOCES. “They rejected my reports because I did not provide assessments for what I did not teach,” he said. Superintendent Kisloski offered to go up to BOCES with Foster to help rectify the situation.

The next regular Board of Education meeting is Thursday, Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. in the Candor High School library-media center. It is open to the public.