NP board approves land swap
North Putnam School board members gave permission to proceed with executing documents that consists of swapping out some of the school's property for land owned by the Nature Conservancy.
Superintendent Murray Pride told the group at Wednesday night's meeting that the conservancy would take land at the back of the Middle School abutting their Fortune Woods Preserve in exchange for a strip of land along the highway in the front of the school property.
The recommendation by Pride passed 6-0, with board member Mark Fordice giving credit for the idea of the land exchange to fellow board member Andy Beck.
"Andy Beck planted the seed for this investigation. He made the suggestion and pretty soon we were walking through ditches and fields," said Pride.
"And, he did it at his second board meeting and will save the corporation a lot of money," added Carl Blau.
Pride announced that a tentative agreement has been reached with the North Putnam Classroom Teacher Association that includes a two percent increase for teachers. Last year, no increase was approved.
Beck commented that he felt the across the board increase penalizes some teachers.
"It penalizes good teachers. There may be other teachers who don't work as hard and it's an across the board raise," said Beck.
Blau remarked that he was opposed to any increase this year.
"With all the unemployment and people getting reduced hours, I don't think it's a good year to give any kind of increase with the state of the economy," he said.
Dale McGaughey commended teachers by saying they have paid their dues in advance by not taking anything last year. "It was a tough session this year but we came to a fair settlement."
The recommendation passed with a 4-2 vote with Beck and Blau voting no.
A parent appeared before the school board with a complaint about the no drugs or alcohol "no tolerance" policy. She objected to students only having two options for punishment. They either lose their driving privileges at school or can't participate in a co-curricular activity.
In this case, the student was not allowed to participate in a band contest, and band is a course with a grade. No alternative options were allowed.
The parent cites some statistics including that the school tests eight students a month and one of those eight test positive for tobacco, not for any other drugs.
"That's a positive rate of 12.5% a year. It is not illegal to have tobacco if you are under the age of 18 but to buy it. It costs $11,000 a year to test. That doesn't include administration or additional counseling costs," she continued.
She asked the board to reconsider the policy.
"It is not a zero tolerance policy and it targets the wrong kids," she concluded.
Board President Debbie Sillery thanked the parent for coming and said they would consider her comments.
The board approved 6-0 the personnel transfer of Scott Spencer as the North Putnam High School Assistant Principal to Roachdale Elementary, replacing the retiring Helen Blubaum.
They also approved support staff changes including the hiring of Rachel Mandeville as a high school instructional Assistant and Kathy Winslow as a Middle School Instructional Assistant.
Extra-curricular staff employment of 28 people including various coaching positions did not pass. Board members split the vote 3-3. When questioned about not discussing if there was a problem before they voted, Sillery spoke up and said she would say what her issue was. Fordice then suggested it was a personnel issue and should be addressed in an executive meeting. The group agreed to discuss it in the next executive meeting of the board.