NISKAYUNA — Jack Calareso has been elected president of the Niskayuna Board of Education.
Calareso was first elected to the board in 2016 and succeeds Rosemarie Perez Jaquith. Jaquith remains on the board.
Calareso is founder and managing partner of The Calareso Law Firm in Albany. He said he was glad to accept the nomination for president at the board’s recent organizational meeting.
“I was willing to serve at the encouragement of my colleagues,” Calareso said. “I have board experience from the past and have been in leadership positions in the past on other boards. This was an opportunity to serve the community I live in, so I welcomed it.”
Calareso has been a Niskayuna Little League coach, a member of the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region and co-chairman of Leadership Tech Valley. Calareso is also on the board of the Capital District YMCA and a member of the Capital Region Chamber of Commerce.
Brian Backus, who was elected to the board in 2017, was chosen as vice president.
Backus is commander of the 139th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron of the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing in Scotia. He has been active with Niskayuna Youth Football, Niskayuna Boys and Girls Basketball and Niskayuna Girls Lacrosse.
The other four members of the board are Niki Foley, Noney Grier, Jennifer Zhao and Howard Schlossberg.
In other business at the organizational meeting:
* Board members made minor changes to the district’s codes of conduct for the elementary, middle and high schools, and to the high school athletics code.
A provision was added about each student’s rights and responsibility to make the school environment safe.
Calareso said the provision was added in response to the student activism that occurred this spring. Students participated in two outdoor demonstrations after February’s fatal high school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
“It didn’t reflect an actual change in any practice or procedure, but it did articulate the fact students have a responsibility to keep their school safe and we have an obligation to make that school safe,” Calareso said. “That’s a two-way street — we all should acknowledge what we already practice.”
* Cosimo Tangorra Jr., Niskayuna’s superintendent of schools, said he has been notified the district has been awarded $50,000 in state “bullet aid,” which allocates funding to school districts, libraries and not-for-profit organizations. The funding for Niskayuna came through the office of state Sen. James Tedisco.
Tedisco said the allocation is designed to be “fast-moving” aid that gets to districts quickly – one explanation for the “bullet” name.
“‘Bullet aid’ isn’t like the general grants from the (state) Dormitory authority,” he said, “it’s money after the budget is passed that we negotiate ourselves through the budget process and it moves pretty fast to the school district.
“We try to get it to them before the budgets go before the voters,” Tedisco added, “because it impacts what they can provide their programs for, and it impacts their budgets.”
Tedisco said the aid can be used for things such as library books, security programs, desks. The money also can be used to reduce taxes.
Matt Leon, a spokesman for the school district, said district officials have not yet determined how the money will be used.
* Tangorra also said the district has received information on the availability of a Community Oriented Policing Services grant for school safety. Up to $25 million is available through this year’s COPS school violence prevention program. The money can be used for coordination with law enforcement; training for local police officers to prevent student violence against others; metal detectors and technology for quick notification of local police during emergencies.
Deadline for application is July 30.
* Niskayuna students Anjalee Modasra and Reem Djebli will be the board’s student representatives for the coming school year.
Contact Daily Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]