Schenectady school board tables contract move

A proposal to extend the contract of Assistant Superintendent for Business Michael San Angelo was pu

A proposal to extend the contract of Assistant Superintendent for Business Michael San Angelo was pulled off the agenda by President Maxine Brisport Wednesday because not all board members were present.

San Angelo’s contract expires at the end of June, and the proposal is to extend it one more year.

Brisport said at the start of the meeting that board member James Casino would not be attending the meeting and Jeff Janiszewski would be arriving late and might have to leave early, so she did not think it appropriate to discuss the item.

Casino has missed several meetings since August, when photos of two parties he hosted for his son Jimmy surfaced on Facebook. The photos showed young people drinking what appears to be alcohol and Jimmy’s mother, Donna Casino, being held upside down over a beer keg drinking. The photos have since been removed from the Web site.

Casino was not present for the Sept. 2 meeting or the Sept. 16, Oct. 21 and Nov. 18 study sessions.

Rumors have been swirling about his future on the board, but Brisport said after the meeting that Casino had a conflict and “has not communicated any decision” about his status.

Authorities were looking into possible charges, although the status of any investigation could not be learned on Wednesday. District Attorney Robert Carney did not respond to messages left by The Daily Gazette concerning the matter.

Board members spent the bulk of the meeting discussing the proposed restructuring of Schenectady High School aimed at improving a low graduation rate of around 50 percent.

The Schenectady Federation of Teachers presented to Superintendent Eric Ely a letter with 120 signatures of teachers criticizing him for dismissing their suggestions, particularly with regard to the schedule. Ely has said he will not accept any plan that retains the modular schedule, which consists of eight rotating days where students in full-year courses meet for six out of those eight days, sometimes at different times of the day. Ely has said the schedule is too difficult to administer and only 70 percent of students get into their chosen classes.

Bob Hyndman, SFT vice president at the high school, said Ely has made comments in the press that teachers are lazy because they want to keep the current schedule.

“Many members of the public attack educators and perpetuate the unfounded belief that we do not work hard or do not deserve respect for our work,” he said. “We never imagined that our own superintendent might share this view.”

Teachers prefer the current schedule because the hour-long periods mean more time with students in class, Hyndman said. Also, there are fewer times when students will be changing classes, which can cause disruptions in the hallways. Another advantage is that students who arrive late to school are not always late for the same class.

Hyndman added that perhaps there were budgetary reasons behind the schedule shift.

“Is it your intention to eliminate full-time teaching positions by going to a straight multi-period day, and is that where the savings are to be had?” Hyndman asked Ely.

In his response, Ely outlined the need for changes to raise academic standards and said he does not know what the new schedule will be.

Vice President Diane Herrmann said she is concerned that teachers are not being included in the restructuring process.

Ely responded that every effort is being made to include people. Only four teachers have come to see him during three sessions he has had at the high school to take comment.

Ely said not everyone is favor of the current schedule but may not be vocal about it. “You’ll find there’s a lot out there who are afraid to say anything because they don’t want to sit up here and take this crap.”

Becoming clearly agitated, Ely added that people who have concerns about the restructuring “should come to me as a gentleman — face to face, man to man. I get it in a public meeting,” he said.

Herrmann responded, “I think it was a poor choice for words and I don’t think you’re getting attacked unfairly.”

Hyndman told a reporter afterward that the reason people do not go to Ely is they feel intimidated: “It’s not that they don’t have anything to say.”

Categories: News

Leave a Reply