BY SARA GILBERT
On Tuesday, August 21, the North Rockland Central School District board met for the last time before the 2012-13 school year begins to discuss final reports, finance issues, officially establish tax rates and finalize appointments and resignations.
The board unanimously the new tax rate for 2012. The board established a tax rate that equalized by town, between Haverstraw and Stony Point, and confirmed an extension period of 61 days. The total tax levy for the Town of Haverstraw is $72,844,660, with $48,606,475 coming from homeowners, and the total levy from Stony Point is $57,552,692, with $39,381,627 coming from homeowners.
This equates to an average increase of $525 for Stony Point homeowners and $136 for Haverstraw homeowners, or 6.5 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively. The tax hikes come in spite of significant cost-cutting measures taken by the district last year.
Superintendent Ileana Eckert reported that all the school’s updates and construction are on schedule and will be ready for the new school year. Thiells Elementary School is the only one running a bit behind, she said. But it will be ready by the start of school as well.
She encouraged everyone to come to the schools’ open houses on August 28 where there will be ribbon cuttings and a large celebration.
“The main thing is the kids’ happiness,” said Eckert.
Eckert closed her report by thanking everyone for all their hard work and dedication over the summer, joking that no one involved actually had a summer vacation.
The board passed a school lunch price increase of 10 cents unanimously. This means grades K-6 will now have to pay $2.50 and grades 7-12 will pay $2.60 for lunch.
“School lunch pays for itself,” said President Deborah P. Gatti. “And this increase just maintains that.”
She noted that there is a donation of $1,000 for any children who can’t afford lunches. “No child should go hungry,” said Gatti.
After a break for executive session, where the board finalized any last-minute discussions regarding the resignations and appointments, the board meeting opened again to discuss the final decisions.
Patricia Marino and Susan Kieselbach resigned from their positions as elementary teacher at Willow Grove Elementary School and special subjects teacher assistant at North Rockland High School respectively. Marino taught in the district for 27 years and Kieselbach taught for 26 years.
Kristine Arvidson and Avis Shelby were approved for unpaid leave of absence. Arvidson is an elementary teacher at Willow Grove Elementary School and will be absent until October 31, 2012. Shelby is a principal at Farley Elementary School and will be absent until November 16, 2012.
Two new appointees were present at the board meeting: Amaris Scalia and Laura Sweeney. Scalia will be the curriculum implementation specialist at a salary of $94,306 annually. Sweeney will be the literacy specialist at an annual salary of $76,989.
Several elementary teachers were hired, including: Dawn Velazquez, Gina Rozycki, Deborah Bauer, Elizabeth Dunnigan, Lindsay Osberg, Carla Curran, Danielle Salemo, Margie DellaCava, Nicole Couch.
Other appointments include: Colleen Hardiman, instructional data specialist; Noreen Apicella, physical education; Tonianne DeSimone, school counselor; Denise Casanova, English as a second language; Claudia Brand, physical education; Shelley Ciampi, education of children with handicapping conditions – general special education; Joseph Lloyd, interim elementary school principal; Rebecca Mizrahi, interim assistant elementary school principal; and Noreen Apicella, physical education.
The board also approved to provide BOCES with breakfast and lunch for the Gerald F. Neary Elementary School students throughout the 2012-13 school year. This will not come out of taxpayers or the school’s budget, instead federal and state funding pays for it. Peggy Zugibe, who is on the BOCES board, abstained. But everyone else approved it.
The board also agreed unanimously to enter into contract with PAS Auto School to provide a driver education program for students.
The board closed out the meeting by welcoming all the new appointees to the district and to their positions and wished them well.