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December 09, 2016
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Search for principal underway; community involvement sought

The search process to find a new principal for the George Ross Mackenzie (GRM) Elementary School in Glen Spey has been launched and is notable for its strong emphasis on involving the community.

Eldred Central School (ECS) District Superintendent Robert Dufour began the process by developing a survey which is now posted on the district’s website ( Comments are being collected from students, faculty, staff, parents and community members on the qualities and experience deemed desirable for the new principal.

Dufour is also seeking volunteers to participate in the search. Interested parties would form interview committees to screen potential candidates. Volunteers willing to serve on the committees should contact ECS district clerk Bonnie Robertson at 845/456-1100, ext. 5128.

During the ECS Board of Education meeting on February 9, Dufour described the process. The survey is being announced throughout the community with flyers, press releases and more. Following tabulation of the results, ads for the position will be placed in multiple newspapers and on appropriate websites.

Applications will be received until March 30, after which Dufour will interview candidates and narrow the pool to three that most closely meet the criteria created by the survey process. Separate screening committees comprised of parents, students, community members, faculty, support staff and administrators will interview each candidate. Each committee will be moderated by one of the ECS board members.

“The intent is to set up a multi-day screening process where each of the individuals will go before each of the screening committees. The committee will then rate them. We’re hoping we’ll have a very clear indication which of the three candidates would then be interviewed by the board of education before a final decision is made,” he added.

In other matters, Dufour provided details about Versa Trans, the new bus routing software that the district will purchase to enable more efficient scheduling of its transportation routes. An anti-bullying icon has been placed on the school website to enable students and staff to report incidences of bullying and is already being actively used. It was announced that there will be a board vacancy for which the term will be July 2012 to June 2017. Petitions can be obtained from Robertson and are due by April 16.

School business administrator William Thornton presented the first sections of the school district budget, focused on the administrative and capital components. The projected administrative component decrease is $97,464 or approximately 5.97% from the 2011-12 approved budget (the contingent budget). The total administrative component is $1,533,808.

The projected capitol component budget decrease for the proposed 2012-13 school budget is $84,857 for a decrease of about 2.9%. “The employee retirement increase for this component alone was 30% over last year,” said Thornton. The total projected capitol component is $2,842,049. The next session will focus on the instructional component and on March 8, the full budget will be presented during the regularly scheduled meeting at 7:30 p.m.

The board also heard from school nurse Carol Franco. After learning that many children in Sullivan County rely on a free or reduced lunch program and that some children lack adequate food during weekends, Franco knew it was something she wanted to tackle. She sent a letter to every family in the district to let them know that, like other schools in the region, ECS would be piloting a program to help those in need.

The initiative launched with five backpacks and has grown to serve 20 families with 44 children. Recipients stop by on Fridays to pick up their backpack filled with non-perishable food such as soup, fruit, oatmeal, cereal, pasta, beans, crackers and tuna fish. A letter to staff has brought daily donations of food.

Churches have set up collection boxes; the local girl scouts are doing a food drive and United Way has provided $250. “Sometimes one child will come with one can of soup just to help out,” said Franco. “It’s going really well and I’m very proud to be a part of it. It gets the kids through the weekend.”

Dufour praised the effort. “Carol’s gone above and beyond with this program,” he said. But Franco dismissed the praise. “As the school nurse, I feel that if they eat healthy, they can learn better,” she said.