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Schenectady High emergency shelter agreement tabled amid school board confusion

Schenectady High emergency shelter agreement tabled amid school board confusion

Questions linger over details of the arrangement
Schenectady High emergency shelter agreement tabled amid school board confusion
Schenectady High School is pictured.
Photographer: Gazette file photo

SCHENECTADY — The Schenectady school board on Wednesday tabled adoption of an agreement with Schenectady County to designate the high school an emergency shelter amid confusion over the agreement’s specifics.

Superintendent Larry Spring said he originally thought the plan was for the county to deliver a generator to the district that would be positioned permanently at the high school, but instead the county has a portable generator that would be moved to the high school in case of an emergency.

Also, board members raised questions about how certain district responsibilities spelled out in the agreement would work if the generator didn’t stay with the district full time. One provision, for instance, states that “the operation, maintenance and management of the equipment shall be the responsibility of” the school district.

“We are responsible for maintaining it, but it’s not always on our site?” board member Andy Chestnut asked during the meeting.

Another provision says that if the district no longer wishes to use generator equipment it “shall be returned” to the county. How can the district return equipment not housed at its facility, another board member asked.

“I didn’t realize this had shifted to a removable generator,” Spring said. “I think the MOU [memorandum of understanding] reflects language from a previous discussion.”

The board members broadly asserted they supported using the high school as a shelter for the county but still had questions about the details of the agreement.

“I think it’s a great idea for us to have the shelter here,” board member Ann Reilly said.

The board ultimately chose to table consideration of the agreement with the county until next month, giving district and county officials time to get on the same page.

Schenectady County Attorney Chris Gardner on Thursday said the county’s emergency manager would communicate with the school district about updating the agreement. He said a Scotia-Glenville school also serves as the site of an emergency shelter. That school has a permanent generator, Gardner said, suggesting the language in the agreement with Schenectady schools may have been carried over from the agreement with Scotia-Glenville.

“If we need to tweak it, we can tweak it,” he said of the agreement with the Schenectady City School District.

Garnder said the portable generator would be stored with the county highway department and transported to the high school if needed for a county emergency. The district could also access the generator if it had a power outage that didn’t spark a full county emergency, Gardner said.

The portable generator was purchased with funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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