by Kathleen Duff
At a crowded Grand Island Board of Education meeting Monday evening, Veronica Connor Middle School Assistant Principal Eleanor Payne received official recognition from the American Heart Association for her administering of CPR on one of her students who had collapsed in full cardiac arrest in a school hallway Sept. 9.
Payne and other middle school staff who played a significant role in working through the crisis received the "Heartsaver Hero Award" from American Heart Association Buffalo Niagara Board President Dr. Glenna Bett and Executive Director Liz Zulawski. The other recipients were William Brodie, Barbara Nolan and Margaret Cammarano. Bett urged passage of the "CPR in Schools" bill, which would require high school students to take a CPR course before graduation. She elaborated that 80 percent of all cardiac arrests occur in the home.
Payne complimented the coordinated efforts of school staff during the crisis and emphasized the importance of being properly trained in CPR. She has been certified in medical intervention for more than 20 years and had just recently renewed that credential. Payne also said that she "was in the right place at the right time."
In other business, board President Tak Nobumoto asked for a moment of silence for trustee Joan Droit, who died suddenly earlier this month. He praised Droit for her 40-plus years as a Grand Island educator and for her insightful and committed work as a member of the Board of Education.
In order to fill Droit's seat, the board discussed the options of calling an election, leaving the seat vacant until the next election time, or appointing an interim board member until 2015 when Droit's term would have been over. The board requires seven members to operate.
Trustees decided to ask the public to submit letters of intent to the district if interested in filling the vacancy. The board would conduct interviews and make an appointment within 90 days from the time of the vacancy. The letters will be accepted by District Clerk Janet Schuster at the district office until Nov. 7. For more information, go to the Grand Island Schools website: www.k12.ginet.org.
Regarding curriculum and instruction, the board approved the 2013 Annual Professional Performance Review required by New York state as a tool to evaluate teachers and administrators. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Teresa Lawrence said that required observations would be done by her, by the central office staff and by building principals. Principals would be observed by Lawrence and central office. "Scores" achieved by school professionals will be made available to parents.
In a report about the district's capital improvement project, Assistant Superintendent of School Business Services Joe Giarrizzo said that two-thirds of the concrete floor for the high school science, technology, engineering and mathematics wing has been poured with the remaining part being finished this week. He expected the building's structural steel to arrive in about 10 days. The HVAC and drywall has been completed in the new professional development space and computer lab. He assured board members that construction workers were "trying to be as uninvasive as possible ... and to eliminate any confusion we have caused (with the work)."
Further, Giarrizzo stated that the district is at the end of its capital reserves, which are being used for the project, and that, in 2014, the district would need to borrow to keep construction on track. Much of the project has been already approved by the state for aid.
The board also heard a report on the district's financial health from external auditors Lumsden and McCormick. The district's "books" remain in good order.
In miscellaneous agenda items, trustees approved Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center for the student athlete's annual sports participation physicals. Lawrence said that her office was conducting interviews for the position of IT director and that the position would be appointed in November.
Finally, trustees tabled discussion on the town's 485b tax incentive for businesses locating on Grand Island. This expired in June and continues to be a topic of discussion between the district and the town. Board members Donna Tomkins, Emily Ciraolo and Glenn Bobeck voiced opposition to any tax breaks for new businesses. "We should not be in the business of incentivizing business," Bobeck said. Lisa Pyc and board Vice President Paul Krull stated they favor it. The topic will be reviewed and revisited at a later date by both the town and school boards.