At its first meeting of the 2013-14 school year on September 12, the Eldred Central School Board of Education thanked the school’s teachers for sacrificing pay raises in the near term for the long-term good of the school and its students. District Superintendent Robert M. Dufour announced that a memorandum of understanding (MOU) outlining the teachers’ salary deferments would serve as an amendment to the teachers’ current contract. The MOU, which will be in effect from September 1 through June 30, 2016, details incremental raise deferments occurring over the next two years, with full raise amount, as specified by the current teacher’s current contract, payable in three years.
Even before the meeting started, the issue of adequate funding was paramount, as the district’s internal audit firm of Cooper Arias, LLC presented its findings. The district was found to be in compliance with state laws and generally accepted accounting principles, although the school lunch fund is now in deficit; according to the auditors, this has become commonplace since state funding was decreased. Auditors also noted the need to begin putting aside additional funds for the Teachers Retirement Service.
After welcoming all to the meeting, Dufour reported current K-12 student enrollment as 648, down 38 from the 2012-13 enrollment of 686. He introduced newly-hired school nurse Danielle Dubois, and announced that she will assume her duties on October 15. He then turned the floor over to school board president Douglas Reiser.
Reiser summarized the three principle board goals for the 2013-14 school year as continuing to bring the district into compliance with state standards, increasing parent/teacher communication, and improving recognition of positive student accomplishments. Board, faculty and administration were agreed that adverse publicity surrounding negative student behavior is demoralizing and tends to overshadow and undermine students’ many positive achievements. The board suggested that the district be more proactive in celebrating those achievements. Reiser mentioned the possibility of playing videos displaying student accomplishments on district TV monitors, and challenged both school officials and his board colleagues to be creative in promoting and honoring achievement.
Athletic director Jolene Porter reported that approximately 170 athletes in grades 7 through 12 have signed up for one or more sports. Competition will begin on September 23. Porter emphasized that new concussion legislation requires parental signature on consent forms. A video regarding the topic, “Concussion: All You Need to Know!” can be viewed at ecs.schoolwires.com/Page/2686.
Public comment immediately before adjournment drew a request, supported by a petition containing district resident signatures, that the board reconsider its decision to curtail the district’s driver education program. Dufour and Reiser acknowledged regret that the program had been discontinued, and attributed that decision to increased cost and steadily decreasing enrollment. Disclosing that the district still owns and insures the car formerly used by the program, they cited instructor cost as the prohibitive factor.