Dispute prompts school review

School district officials plan to review policies governing the use of school buildings for after-sc

School district officials plan to review policies governing the use of school buildings for after-school activities and the rental of district buses for club or group trips.

The informal review follows disagreement and confusion over policies at the last two Middleburgh Board of Education meetings that centered on a request by the Middleburgh Young American Bowling Team to rent two district buses for an April 16 trip to the Bronx Zoo.

At last Wednesday’s meeting, the school board voted to rescind its March 12 rejection of a request to lease the two school buses and drivers to the nonprofit bowling club to take about 80 members of local bowling teams on the trip.

The request had sparked disagreement among board members at the earlier meeting, after board Vice President Kimberly Smith objected to use of taxpayer-purchased buses, even though there would be no direct cost to the district for the trips.

Board member Robert Herodes objected to rejecting what he said has been long-standing practices of renting the buses for such trips.

“We are abusing our taxpayers by transporting a bowling team to the Bronx Zoo,” Smith said at the earlier meeting.

“We do it with other groups,” Herodes responded.

“It’s arbitrary    and we’re making a big mistake.”

The trip was rejected in a 3-2 vote on March 12, but then the board agreed to postpone action for further consideration.

Board President Donald Wood had originally agreed, and voted with Smith and Maurice Lawton to reject permission for the buses. But upon further review Wood and Smith said they discovered it had been allowed before.

“It didn’t seem fair,” to block the current trip, said Wood.

The board approved the April 16 bus trip in a 4-0 vote, with Wood absent.

Wood said the board is expecting to further review policies regarding use of buses and other activities by outside groups.

According to district Business Manager John DeSanto, the district charges about $1,600 for the two buses, included the drivers and estimated fuel costs.

Patty Shultes, who with her husband Richard, sponsor the club at their Middleburgh Lanes and Laundromat, called the off-again, on-again episode “just a misunderstanding.”

“I believe there was some confusion    and I’m very happy with the outcome from the school,” she said Monday, noting that the club pays for the use of the buses.

District Superintendent Michele Weaver noted that bowling offers a variety of benefits for students.

At the same March 12 meeting, however, Weaver did note that a $3,000 allocation of district money in the pending school budget for physical education classes to use the local bowling lanes was more than the amount for the entire K-12 physical educational allotment for supplies and equipment.

Weaver said Friday that some additional money was been shifted to the physical education supplies and equipment lines from other budgeted areas to add $1,250 for each of the three district schools.

The board also plans to consider policies regarding concerns that Weaver raised recently about better monitoring the use of district buildings by various groups after school hours.

Weaver and Buildings and Grounds Supervisor Steve Weinhofer suggested that better control is needed over who has keys to buildings, and how after-school activities are authorized.

Categories: Schenectady County

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