by Kathleen Duff
At the regular meeting of the Grand Island Board of Education Monday evening, trustees voted 5-2 to rescind the approval for tenure for Kerri Nowak, principal of Huth Road School. Nowak's tenure would have officially begun with her first 2012-13 day of service toward the end of this month. Instead, her probationary period is extended for one year.
Both Superintendent of Schools Robert Christmann and board member Paul Krull told the Dispatch that they are "prohibited" from commenting on school personnel issues and did not cite a reason for the decision. Krull voted to rescind the approval, along with Joan Droit, David Goris, Glenn Bobeck and Tak Nobumoto. Board members Donna Tomkins and Emily Ciraolo voted not to rescind the approval.
Several community members complimented Nowak during the "Voice of the People" portion of the meeting agenda. Former school board member Lee Cohen told the trustees that Nowak's "door is always open" and that she (Cohen) was "deeply disappointed" about the vote.
Tricia Eichel and Maura Rustowicz, both with children at Huth Road School, echoed Cohen's remark. Morningstar Drive resident Lisa Fabiano, who has four children in the district, said, "It seems as if the board didn't take our sentiments for Mrs. Nowak into consideration ... as if a decision were already made regarding her probation..." Nowak has been with the district as principal of Huth Road for three years.
In a continuing topic of interest, Baseline Road residents addressed the board regarding the proposed transportation center behind Charlotte Sidway School. Both Joe Kaefer and Al Perry expressed concern about bus exhaust and current and potential health problems for neighbors. Perry asked, "Does the school board have approval from the (Environmental Protection Agency)?"
The district is considering three options for a new bus garage and has had meetings with Baseline Road residents to air concerns about the location and to more fully communicate site design options. Director of Business and Finance Joe Giarrizzo told trustees that they would get more information about the three options at the next board of education meeting on Aug. 27.
In other agenda items, the board unanimously approved certification of a school tax rate of $40.85 per assessed $1,000, and also approved the use of reserve funds for the reduced lunch program.
In his Superintendent's Report, Christmann noted that the State Education Department is now requiring students to have written parental permission, rather than a doctor's note, for the use of sunscreen for outdoor school events. The SED is also prohibiting electronic devices such as cell phones during state assessment tests.
The next meeting of the Grand Island Board of Education is a joint meeting with the Grand Island Town Board on Monday, Aug. 27, at 7:30 p.m. in the Veronica E. Connor Middle School Little Theater, 1100 Ransom Road.
Board of Education Trustees
President: David Goris
Vice President: Paul Krull
Trustees: Glenn Bobeck, Tak Nobumoto, Joan Droit, Donna Tomkins, Emily Ciraolo
Superintendent: Robert Christmann
District Clerk: Janet Schuster
Send comments to the board at [email protected].