by Janet Schultz
The Lewiston-Porter Board of Education focused on honoring students and teachers at one of the last board meetings of the 2009-10 academic year Tuesday night.
The session also saw passionate discussion among attending board members on a donation offer from CWM Chemical Services LLC.
The board accepted, on a 4-2 vote, an invitation from Chemical Waste Management for the Lewiston-Porter School District to be one of the company's recipients of a donation from the proceeds of its upcoming golf tournament. Board member Ed Waller was not present. Voting in favor were Keith Fox, Mike Gentile, Jim Sperduti and Robert Weller.
Board members Wendy Swearingen, who referred to the donation as "blood money," and April Fideli voted against the offer, stating it goes against a previously passed resolution where the board voted to oppose the expansion of CWM. The amount of that donation is unknown.
Fideli was the most vocal, reminding the board that, in addition to opposing the expansion, they should keep in mind the trucks that travel past the school daily and leak chemicals on the highway that are dangerous to Lew-Port children.
"CWM breaks the law every day by breaking the rules of their permit," Fideli said. "What kind of message are we sending our kids by accepting their money and opposing their expansion?"
"We have an official act that says we oppose the expansion," Gentile said. "We understand the concerns of the community. However, I don't know where there's a problem when I have to worry about taking money to use for programs in the district. They are going to give the money to someone, and those trucks are going to keep coming."
Superintendent Christopher Roser reminded the board that they are stewards and need to look out for the best interest of the students and school district. He also went on to say that everyone has outside political views and that those views should be left outside when determining what is best for the school. He also reminded them about the $1.8 million cut in state aid.
"The expansion is not appropriate, but CWM is a viable part of our community and one that contributes to our future," said Roser. "I bring this to you as a recommendation."
"If you look at everyone's principles, you would turn away all money," said Weller. "CWM is a law-abiding company; the DEC says they are. I think, as a school, we should accept any donation. Why wouldn't we accept it, we need it."
"Sometimes the right thing to do should come before money," said Fideli.
Gentile also remarked that once the donation actually comes before the Lew-Port board, the board has to vote to accept it or not accept it. In Tuesday's action the board was only agreeing to be considered as one of the recipients of a donation from CWM's fundraiser.
In other news,
•Board members received a report from students who represented Lew-Port at the Water Conference in Japan and were introduced to others who were honored for academic achievement.
•Lew-Port students recognized for contests held by the Orleans/Niagara BOCES Teachers Center included: Kylie Ocejo (kindergarten), second place; Ethan Fideli (first grade), first place; Emma Waechter (fourth grade), second place; and Mason Monteleone (fourth grade), honorable mention; all in the essay category. Fourth graders Madison Dunn and Claire Beecher took first and third place, respectively, in the short story category. Ashley Meagher, fourth grade, took first place and Brittany Rosso, fifth grade, received third-place honors in the short story category.
In the Skills USA competition, the Health Knowledge team, made up of Alyssa Benware and Rebecca vanEverdingen, took second place in the region and third in the state. Alan Wills took first place in the region and second place in the state for welding. All three are seniors.
•The board granted 13 teachers tenure, including Nicole Alonzo, Elizabeth Cardwell, Michelle D'Auria, Michael DiCamillo, Alan Ingraham, Jennifer Kensinger, Thomas Penale Jr., Camille Plewa, Karianne Schmitt, Joshua Siuta, Maria Wiepert, Lisa Window and Kelly Zimmerman.
They also accepted the retirements of Lt. Col. (Ret) William H. Arrington III, ROTC instructor, and Mary Ann Mohr, special education teacher. Both will retire June 30.
"Mary Ann is one of the best special education teachers the Lewiston-Porter School District has had," said Don Rappold.
•In closing remarks, board member Jim Sperduti, who was re-elected during the school board election, said that he looks forward to his next there years.
"I've had three wonderful years and am fascinated and in awe of all the programs in our school system," said Fox, the outgoing president. "The education at Lew-Port is wonderful."•The board went into executive session at 9:20 p.m. to discuss the Lewiston-Porter Organization of Educational Administrators (LPOEA) contract for September 2010 through August 2014. There was no decision reported as of press time.