Category Archives: Kingston City School District

Jolyn Safron for Kingston City School District Board of Education

I am running for the KCSD Board of Education and am asking you to vote for me in the Board of Education Election/Budget Vote on May 20, 2014.

  • Born in Michigan and graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Science, concentration in Computer Science
  • Resident of the Kingston City School District for the last 24 years
  • Worked as a computer programer at IBM for 11 years
  • Husband Sean works at IBM; 2 daughters – Mira in grade 10 at Kingston High School; Julia in grade 7 at J. W. Bailey Middle School
  • Active at Kingston Alliance Church as Church Board secretary, Christian Education director, Sunday School teacher, and co-director of several children’s ministries of the church
  • Past president of Hudson Valley Youth Chorale
  • Involved with school parent groups at Edson Elementary School, J. W. Bailey Middle School and Kingston High School
  • Served as Edson District Wide Parents’ Council representative; currently Bailey PTO Secretary (3 years) and KHS Parent Association president (2 years)
  • Current DWPC co-chair serving for a total of 5 years
  • Co-founder of Kingston Action For Education

Parent involvement is essential in the education of our children. Parents can be involved in many different ways and successful parent involvement looks different from family to family. My passion throughout the time I have been a part of the Kingston City School District has been focused on

  • how parents can be involved in the education of their children,
  • how parents can be informed,
  • how parents can confidently ask questions or raise concerns when they need to,
  • how parents can have a voice in the educational process.

Communication between home and school is vital and an area that can always be improved. With the additional layers of confusion and complexity added by the Common Core Agenda and the impact it has on our local school district, there is even more need for the board of education and administration to work with parents, teachers, and the community to find solutions that work for everyone and provide the best education possible for the children of the Kingston City School District. I am running for school board to help parents and caregivers be active partners in the education of their children and to get their needs and concerns successfully addressed by the school district.

Of course I will also dedicate myself fully to the many responsibilities of a school board member as I work with the other 8 members of the Kingston board of education to oversee and manage the school district’s affairs, personnel and properties.

Jolyn Safron Bio

Please plan to attend Meet the Candidates Night hosted annually by District Wide Parents’ Council on Tuesday May 13, 2014 6:30pm at Kingston High School to hear answers from all the candidates for school board to questions posed by members of the audience.

If you have any questions that you would like to pose to me personally before Meet the Candidates Night, please do not hesitate to contact me.  You may use the contact form below or obtain my e-mail and/or phone number from the attached Bio sheet.

Music in Our Schools

With school budget season upon us, I would like to pause for a moment and reflect upon music and arts in our schools.  Many would say that when times get tough, this is an area where money should be cut but I beg to differ.

I had the privilege of listening to children grades 5-12 from throughout Ulster County sing at the All-County Choral Festival on March 1, 2014.  All three groups of singers (elementary, junior high school and senior high school) sang with enthusiasm and did an amazing job after their full day of rehearsal.  The music was varied in style and very enjoyable to listen to.  The elementary and junior high school choruses had songs in foreign languages as well as with clapping and/or other choreography to add to the excitement of the song.  It was obvious that the teachers and students had all worked hard to prepare for this concert.

In this atmosphere of enjoyment contrasted with the yearly rounds of budget cuts, I read the President’s message with a somewhat heavy heart and have received permission to share it for your contemplation.

We would like to thank you for joining us in our celebration of music in the Ulster County schools.  Parents, students and teachers have worked hard to produce the beautiful concert you will hear today.  And even as we take pride in today’s performance it is equally important that we consider the environment in which it has been created.

We are continually called upon to defend and justify the importance of music.  We are asked to provide scientific data to prove that music changes lives, shapes neuro-pathways, creates social bonds, sensitizes the emotions, and develops compassion for our fellow human beings.  Students and teachers of music have always known this.  The president of Cornell University David J. Skorton stated on June 26th, “It is through the study of art, music, literature, history and other humanities and social sciences that we gain a greater understanding of the human condition than biological or physical science alone can provide.”

The current path of education leads us away from what matters most.  As Diane Ravitch has pointed out, the concept behind a ‘race to the top’ is fundamentally flawed.  There is no race where everyone wins.  The democratic ideal is educational equality, not winners and losers.  When the value of education is reduced to a formula then the essence of education is lost.

The health of music education reflects the state of education as a whole.  How long can the canary sing in this environment?  You are about to hear a wonderful concert.  You will be inspired, moved and uplifted in spite of over-testing, cuts, and reductions of music departments county-wide.  The canary is still singing, but for how long?

We don’t have to claim that participation in the arts raises test scores.  That’s not the point.  The arts are far more valuable.  They awaken our soul and spirit and they don’t need any more justification than that.

- Dr. Barbara Wild & Mr. Randolph Loder, Co-Presidents, UCMEA

Perhaps you attended the All-County Band Festival last weekend or will be joining me in attending the All-County Orchestra Festival this weekend.  Perhaps you enjoy other musical venues put on specifically by Kingston school district students.  Maybe your focus is visual arts rather than music or maybe sports or some other aspect of the many wonderful experiences that Kingston offers to our students beyond just “reading, writing and arithmetic”.  Please be involved in the budget process and urge the Kingston Board of Education to continue their focus from past years and retain our wonderful music and arts and other programs that make KCSD such a rich experience for our students.  Also remind our board of education that as we continue to deal with the Common Core Agenda not everything can be measured by STEM and high-stakes testing.

Additional opportunities for you to get involved include an online budget survey that the district will be posting on March 24, 2014 and the third budget forum on April 7, 2014 6pm at the Cioni administration building.

Parent Highlights for March 19, 2014 Kingston Board of Education meeting

Lots of interest for parents on the agenda for the Kingston Board of Education meeting this Wednesday March 19, 2014.  The meeting will be held at John F. Kennedy Elementary School.

5:00pm – 6:00pm Public Hearing on the Veterans Tax Exemption

6:00pm Video welcome by John F. Kennedy Principal Dr. Perez who will be out of town.  After the video, the BOE will go into executive session.

7:00pm Expected return to public session and Public Comment

Topics of Note:

  • Dr. Chuck Khoury, Ulster BOCES, speaking about PTECH – Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools Program; here is an article from January about the PTECH program
  • JFK Playground donation
  • 2014-2015 budget update including announcement of a public hearing on the budget on May 7, 2014 at 5:30pm (note that the budget will have already been voted on by the BOE so it is too late to have any impact on the content of the budget at this time), voting locations (listed on the district website), due date of petitions for those who wish to run for the Board of Education – 5pm April 30, 2014, and information about registering to vote in the May 20 election/budget vote and absentee ballots
  • Two recalled teachers Lori Demercurio and Anthony Fabiano (teachers who had lost their jobs and now are getting their jobs back) – resolution P84
  • Amendments and authorizations to change who acts on behalf of the board/district for duties previously performed by Sandy Miller, Assistant Superintendent for Student Services, and Marystephanie Corsones, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction.  John Voerg, Assistant Supterintendent for Personnel & Administration, will be responsible for Special Education related areas/contracts previously covered by Sandy Miller (resolutions R01 and R08 revised).  Beth Bonville will take MaryStephanie Corsones’ place as the Title IX Coordinator, Title VII Coordinator and Title VI Civil Rights Act Investigator (resolution R01 revised).  Allen Olsen, Assistant Superintendent for Business & Operations, will be the responsible party for signing contracts for health services for students in non-public schools through the end of this school year (resolution R09 revised).  Sandy Miller was previously responsible for this authorization.
  • Proposed calendar for 2014-2015 school year:  1st day of school for students is Sept 3, 2014; Thanksgiving recess Nov 26-28; Winter recess Dec 24, 2014-Jan 2, 2015; President’s Weekend Feb 13-16, 2015; Spring recess March 30-April 6, 2015; last day of school June 25, 2015; assorted other individual days off/supt conference days available in the agenda for viewing
  • BOE vote on School Volunteers Policy #1250 – the only change from the version of the policy presented at the 2/19/14 and 3/5/14 BOE meetings is a statement that fingerprinting will be paid for by the district.  It appears that the BOE policy committee is not recommending any other changes in response to feedback received from the community regarding the School Volunteers policy.  See here for past discussion.

Extended Learning Day/Time from a Parent’s Perspective

The Extended Learning Day/Time discussion began for me back in December 2012 and has been fraught with unclear communication and lots of questions.

In December 2012 DWPC liaison Mrs. Bowers made brief mention of the possibility of an extended school day but when I followed up with her in an e-mail, she thought it would be for elementary school and was a long way off.  Later in the month Dr. Padalino mentioned the possibility of a mandatory 10th period at the middle schools at an Anna Devine/Robert Graves transition meeting.  This possibility raised a lot of concern in parents’ minds and was brought up for discussion at the DWPC January 3, 2013 meeting.

For anyone not familiar with middle school 10th period, it is an optional period at the end of the school day that students can use to get homework help, participate in clubs and do intramural activities among other things.  The regular buses take students home before 10th and the ‘late buses’ take students home who stay for 10th period.  Note that with the changes made to the middle school schedule this year ’10th period’ is now called either 19th period or activity period – at least those are the terms used at Bailey Middle School.

As a result of the discussion at the January 2013 DWPC meeting, a DWPC member was assigned to gather input from parents regarding thoughts on making 10th period mandatory.  Input from more than 40 parents was gathered in short order and presented at a Board of Education Coffee & Conversation on January 10 and e-mailed to all BOE members.  Read parent comments/concerns in Mandatory 10th period parent feedback .  Parents then planned to speak at the board of education meeting the following week.  However through several different conversations parents received the impression that a decision regarding the middle school scheduling and the mandatory 10th period might be made before the BOE meeting so DWPC felt compelled to request an immediate district-wide meeting for all parents to discuss the concerns at hand.  Read DWPC Middle School 10th period letter to Dr Padalino and BOE .  DWPC heard back immediately from Dr. Padalino via e-mail that the mandatory 10th period had merely been mentioned as a possibility in a scheduling committee meeting and there was not a large scale movement to implement a mandatory 10th period.  Upon further discussion at the February DWPC meeting, DWPC thought we had assurances that if a mandatory 10th period (or an extended school day) were to be considered, parents would be involved in the discussion.

Fast forward to the September 18, 2013 Board of Education meeting where we find that the Board of Education has as one of their goals ‘Continue to explore the development of an Extended Day Pilot Program for this school year to assist those students who need additional support’.  Dr. Padalino then mentioned applying for the Extended Learning Time grant at the BOE meeting on October 16, 2013 and reported that results from the grant were delayed until January at the November 20, 2013 BOE meeting as part of the Superintendent’s Quarterly Goals update.  At no point in any of these meetings did the board or Dr. Padalino make any mention of the concerns parents raised back in January regarding the possibility of extended the school day.  What happened?  Did the entire board simply forget the concerns submitted by parents?

In January 2014 I decided I could no longer wait for the BOE to ask about the grant and I presented questions regarding the Extended Learning Time Grant during public comment.  Another parent also raised her concerns.  Dr. Padalino responded that he would discuss the grant at the February DWPC meeting which ended up getting snowed out.

Parental concern over the thought of our children spending more time in school and less time with family has continued to grow and has developed into Kingston Action for Education which will be organizing a Rally Against Extended Learning Day program on Wednesday March 19, 2014 from 3:30-5pm at J.F. Kennedy Elementary School.

As a result of the Kingston Action for Education (KAFE) activity, we now have some additional information about the Extended Learning Time Grant as well.  A variety of questions and answers with regards to the grant were posted on the district website today which are helpful in moving the discussion forward.

Parent Highlights for 3/4/14 Kingston Board Of Education Meeting

The Kingston Board of Education will be meeting tomorrow March 4, 2014 at the Cioni Building on Crown Street.

Several items on the agenda caught my eye as being of particular note to parents.

The second reading of the School Volunteer Policy #1250 is occurring.  Changes previously discussed here and here.  The changes to the School Volunteer Policy are scheduled to be approved at the BOE meeting on 3/19/14.

The Superintendent’s Report includes the 2nd Century Project (the high school capital project) and the quarterly update on Board/Superintendent Goals (curriculum, facilities, budget, student achievement and transitions/redistricting). The November update on Board/Superintendent Goals had a lot of details about Common Core implementation, middle school changes, the KHS Scholar’s Academy and other topics that parents are often talking about so I recommend parents attend for this update if at all possible.

The September 18, 2013 BOE meeting minutes contain the Superintendent Goals that are being reported on at the meeting tomorrow.

Are there other topics that you think parents should particularly note as you read through the agenda?

School Volunteers Proposed Policy Changes and Possible Impact to Parents

Do you know that the Kingston City School Board of Education is recommending several changes to the School Volunteers policy (Policy #1250)?  The policy begins:

The Board of Education recognizes that the use of volunteers strengthens school/community relations through positive participation, builds an understanding of school programs among interested citizens, and can assist District employees in providing more individualized and enriched opportunities in instruction. The Board encourages volunteers from all backgrounds and age groups who are willing to share their time, training, experience or personal characteristics to benefit the students of the District.

From the opening paragraph, it is clear that the purpose of the policy is to encourage volunteers within the school.  The policy explains both what the school personnel and the school volunteer must do when someone wishes to become a school volunteer.  However I am concerned that the proposed policy changes, while well-meaning to increase the safety of our students, may adversely impact parent and community members who volunteer or wish to begin volunteering in the schools of our District and may actually cause the school district to have fewer volunteers in our schools.

What are the proposed changes to the School Volunteers policy ?

  • Volunteers are classified in one of 3 tiers.
  • Tier 1 volunteers will include most parent group (PTO/PTA) volunteers who volunteer occasionally and have limited contact with students (for example field day volunteers or fundraising volunteers).  No volunteer application is required so district personnel will not be required to perform any screening of these volunteers.
  • Tier 2 volunteers include parents/community members who volunteer regularly in the classroom (for example classroom reading, room parent) and also field trip chaperons.  Tier 2 volunteers must complete a Volunteer Application Form which requires 2 non-family references and disclosure of any criminal convictions.  The supervising personnel must contact both references and the Board of Education must approve the volunteer. 
  • Tier 3 volunteers include volunteers who assist regularly with programs outside school hours (extra-curricular and co-curricular clubs/activities and athletics).  Tier 3 volunteers must complete the same requirements as Tier 2 volunteers.  In addition Tier 3 volunteers must be fingerprinted (at district expense) and approved by the New York State Education Department.
  • A note is added to the Volunteer Agreement and Expectations (see Volunteer Application Form link above) that the volunteer ‘will not use tobacco and alcohol when volunteering’ so chaperons know they may not smoke or consume alcohol on field trips even if they are in a location where such is allowed for those of legal age.

How could these changes, which seem reasonable on first glance, possibly reduce the number of volunteers in the school?

More volunteers are going to have to complete volunteer applications (field trip chaperons in particular) and potentially be fingerprinted.  A parent reported at the February 19, 2014 BOE meeting that 90 band parent volunteers could potentially have to be fingerprinted due to their involvement in the band marching season.  Several questions/concerns come to my mind:

  • Will supervising personnel (building principals) have adequate time to process all applications for field trip chaperons or will fewer parents be allowed to serve as chaperons due to application work load?
  • What if there is not a BOE meeting between the time that the notice for a field trip goes out and the date of the field trip?  Parents who have not previously completed a volunteer application form for some other reason will not be able to serve as chaperons so there will be fewer volunteers interacting with the school community.
  • Will some parents who simply want to go on the class fieldtrip to UPAC with their child feel uncomfortable applying if they have had a criminal conviction in the past?  Is shoplifting when you were a teenager okay but DWI is not?  Does it matter how long ago the conviction was?  Do traffic violations count?  Would some applicants decide to just not bother volunteering rather than to find out whether they would still qualify even with a conviction history?  In fact how/who will determine what level of conviction would disqualify someone from being a volunteer?
  • Will volunteer applications be treated the same from building to building so all parents/community members are given equal opportunity to volunteer?
  • If conviction information is revealed, what will knowledge of this sort of personal information potentially have on the relationship between the principal and the parent?
  • We are totally relying on the applicant being honest in reporting criminal convictions at Tier 2 since fingerprinting is not required so if someone has committed a ‘serious’ offense (child abuse for example), are they really going to report it?

What should you do if you have questions or concerns about the proposed changes to the School Volunteers Policy #1250?

The Kingston Board of Education responded to parents’ request to delay approval of the proposed policy changes and sent Policy #1250 back to the BOE Policy committee which will meet on Friday March 7, 2014 9:00am.  Now parents/community members need to present any concerns to the BOE so they may be addressed and incorporated into effective changes for the School Volunteers Policy.

  1. The District Wide Parents’ Council (DWPC) VOLUNTEER POLICY SURVEY is a completely anonymous, 9 question, mostly multiple choice survey that will give you the opportunity to give feedback on the proposed policy changes.  I encourage everyone to participate in this survey before March 6, 2014.
  2. If you are comfortable giving individual voice to your concerns, write a letter to the Kingston Board of Education expressing your concerns immediately.  DWPC has drafted a  School Volunteers Policy 1250 Sample Letter (click or see letter below) that can be copied and sent by you to the Board of Education in its entirety or edited by you to address your specific concerns with the proposed changes. This is like letters that action groups often distribute for you to contact your local elected officials.
  3. Join with other parents in expressing your concerns by attending the DWPC meeting on Thursday March 6, 2014 9:30-11:30am or if you can not attend, contact your DWPC school representative through your school PTA/PTO and ask your DWPC rep to bring your concerns to the DWPC meeting.  Also speak with other parents at your PTA/PTO meeting so they know about the proposed policy changes.
  4. Attend the BOE Coffee & Conversation on March 12, 2014 so the Board of Education members in attendance can take your concerns back to the BOE meeting on March 19, 2014
  5. Attend the Board of Education meetings on March 5 or March 19 and share your concerns during Public Comment.  Note that it would be best to not wait until March 19 to express your concerns as that will give the board very little time to consider your concerns since the vote for approval of the policy is scheduled for the March 19 meeting.

The Daily Freeman reported initial concerns regarding the proposed policy changes right after they were announced at the February 19, 2014 BOE meeting.

Disclaimer:  All opinions expressed in this post are the personal opinions of myself, Jolyn Safron, and have not been endorsed or approved by the parent groups of which I am a part unless explicitly stated.

**[DWPC Sample Letter]

[Please remove parenthesized italic print before sending and please add a closing of your choice]

Dear Board Of Education Member,

[You may specifically address them by name- see the district website under the BOARD OF EDUCATION headline for member information]

It has come to my attention that Board Policy 1250, the School Volunteers Policy is currently under review and that certain changes to the policy have been drafted. I thank you for the concern you are showing for the safety of all students in our District, however I do have several concerns that I would like you to consider:

[You may use these bullets as listed, delete ones you do not agree with or add your own concerns]

  • When you list SUPERVISING ADMISTRATOR, who are you referring to?
  • Will there be consistency in implementation of this policy in ALL the Buildings of the KCSD?
  • How are teachers/personnel supposed to watch both Students and Volunteers? Is that not just adding to their work load instead of relieving some of the burden – the purpose of soliciting volunteer help?
  • Some of the Tier Example descriptions appear to overlap each other, some clarity may be needed.
  • Timing: If these applications need to be reviewed by administration, possibly the BOE and clearance from the state may be necessary, how far in advance must parents apply for activities that may not even be posted.
  • Cost: What are the costs involved to process the applications? Will the cost of fingerprinting be covered by the person applying or the School District?
  • Number of Current School Volunteers: How many volunteers does this district rely on currently? Have they all filed an application? If not, Will they feel comfortable doing so?
  • New Volunteers: How will these requirements be conveyed to the public? Most parents are used to just “volunteering” to go on a Field trip or helping out in the classroom.
  • Should volunteer training be provided?

[Some closing should be made to either the email or written/typed letter. You may wish to close with one of these additional comments.]

Thank you fo reading my concerns and I hope your comments during any Board deliberations will reflect them.

[or]

I invite you to contact me at ___________ so that we can discuss these concerns further.

Sincerely,

**[End of DWPC Sample Letter]

Kingston school announces ‘restructured administration’?

What is going on in Kingston? Does anyone honestly think there wasn’t enough work to be done in Curriculum and Instruction and in Special Education (I can’t remember what else right now Sandy Miller is responsible for) that we can lose these two administrative positions? Kingston is already one of the leanest districts in the state administratively. Who is going to take over this work? I am afraid even more will fall to the teachers in the trenches – when will they have time to teach our students?

http://www.dailyfreeman.com/general-news/20140224/kingston-school-district-announces-restructured-administration-two-assistant-superintendents-appear-to-be-impacted

By the way, don’t forget there is a Budget Forum tonight at Crown Street from 6-7:30pm!

Parent Highlights for 2/19/14 Kingston Board Of Education Meeting

If the weather cooperates, the Kingston Board of Education will be meeting tomorrow February 19, 2014 at Robert Graves Elementary School.   UPDATE 2/19/14 3pm District clerk confirms BOE meeting is still being held even though after school activities are canceled.  Quarterly update on Board/Superintendent Goals moved to 3/5/14.

I would like to draw your attention to several items on the agenda that I think are of particular note to parents.

The first reading of changes to the School Volunteer Policy #1250 is on the agenda. Changes of particular note to parents include requirements for room parents, classroom readers and field trip chaperons (tier 2 volunteers).

The Superintendent’s Report includes the 2nd Century Project (the high school capital project) and the quarterly update on Board/Superintendent Goals (curriculum, facilities, budget, student achievement and transitions/redistricting). The November update on Board/Superintendent Goals had a lot of details about Common Core implementation, middle school changes, the KHS Scholar’s Academy and other topics that parents are often talking about so I recommend parents attend for this update if at all possible.

The meeting agenda is posted on the school district website.  Pages 8 and 9 contain the updated School Volunteer Policy #1250.

The September 18, 2013 BOE meeting minutes contain the Superintendent Goals that are being reported on at the meeting tomorrow.

Are there other topics that you think parents should particularly note as you read through the agenda?

Parent Guide to Kingston Board of Education Meetings

Have you ever attended a Kingston Board of Education (BOE) meeting?  Have you wanted to share your thoughts with the Board of Education but not been sure how to go about doing so?  I definitely do NOT have ‘all the answers’ but here are some tips and suggestions based on attending board of ed meetings over the last year and a half.

First, why might a parent even consider attending a Board of Education meeting?

  • The Kingston City School District Board of Education is a board of nine volunteers (they receive NO pay) elected by the community to run a multi-million dollar organization (the school district).
  • The BOE is ultimately responsible for hiring and evaluating the superintendent, evaluating and adopting all school district policies, serving as the body to resolve conflicts within the district, monitoring and adjusting the district finances and managing contracts with district employees.
  • Big decisions are made at board meetings.  The best way to know what those decisions are, how the BOE members stand on the issues and whether you agree is to attend the meetings.  This also helps parents to be better informed when deciding which candidates they want to vote for in the yearly BOE elections.
  • Kingston BOE meetings are live-streamed so a parent or community member can watch the meeting from home, however the board is not aware of who/how many people are watching so they have no feedback regarding interest or concern on particular topics.  The meetings are also recorded and stored on the district website but the availability of the videos is dependent upon when the volunteers from the Kingston High School TV department are able to process the video and get it ready for viewing/uploading.  This sometimes takes an extended time, for example as of Feb 17, 2014 no board meetings videos from 2014 have yet been posted for viewing.

Okay, you have decided to attend a BOE meeting, what now?

  1. The Board of Education Meeting Schedule is posted on the Kingston City School District website Kingston BOE Schedule 2013-2014 .
  2. The meetings generally start at 6pm but the board goes quickly into an executive session, which is not open to the public.  Meeting attendees normally plan to arrive for Public Comment which is scheduled for 7pm although it could be later if the executive session runs long.  When the BOE meetings are at a school rather than at the Cioni building, there might be a short welcome or presentation by the school before the executive session.
  3. The BOE meeting agenda is posted on the district website Meeting Files – Agendas, Resolutions and Minutes generally the Monday before the meeting.  Print a copy and bring it with you if you want to follow along during the meeting.  No materials are provided to the audience at the meeting.
  4. If you wish to speak during Public Comment, sign up on the list at the podium when you arrive.  See additional tips below regarding speaking during Public Comment.
  5. If you have questions or concerns regarding some of the items being discussed, take notes.  BOE meetings are required to be open to the public under the Open Meeting Law but the public is not allowed to participate in the discussion at the meetings, other than speaking during Public Comment.  If you wish to comment on something that is discussed during the meeting, the Kingston BOE generally offers a second Public Comment opportunity at the end of the board meeting.  You may also e-mail questions or comments to the board clerk or the board members.  Contact information is available on the district website under the Board of Education tab.

Tips specific to speaking during Public Comment at the Kingston BOE meeting:

  • Each speaker during Public Comment is limited to 2 minutes.  You will receive a 30 second warning and you will be asked to stop speaking after 2 minutes so have your comments prepared so as to use your time efficiently.
  • Remember that the board will not participate in a dialogue or answer questions during Public Comment due to the Open Meeting requirements that they are working under.  Once in a while, if your comment catches a board member’s interest, they might refer to it during meeting discussion but they are not obligated to do so.  Please do not be disappointed or think that it was not worth speaking because you did not get a response.  This is just the way the meetings work.  If a participant in Public Comment wishes to receive a response to their comment or question, they must submit a request in written form to the BOE clerk.
  • If whatever you wish to share with the board will take longer than 2 minutes, there is a way you can get additional time to speak.  If you bring additional people with you to the board meeting who also sign up to speak after you, when your 2 minutes is up, the next person can state that they cede their time to you and you can continue speaking.  This takes planning and is not something you would normally want to do but it can be useful if you have a lot to share or if a group has a longer ‘presentation’ and wishes to have one person do all of the speaking for the group.
  • You are not required to state your name when you speak (you don’t have to sign up to speak but if you don’t, be sure you are quick when the chairperson asks if there is anyone else who wishes to speak so you don’t miss out) but if you do give your name, remember that it is part of the meeting record and could appear in the meeting minutes or you could be quoted in the newspaper.
  • Please use the microphone when you speak.  You might think everyone can hear you but you probably are not speaking as loudly as you think.  Also those viewing the board meeting at home will NOT be able to hear you if you do not use the microphone.

Are you up for attending a BOE meeting now?  Do you still have questions?  Leave a comment or send me an e-mail.  Hope to see you at an upcoming BOE meeting!

Guide prepared by Jolyn Safron – February 18, 2014

Effective IEP Meetings?

Many parents tell what a struggle it is to get the services they need for their special education student with an IEP (Individual Education Program or Individual Education Plan) or even to get the IEP in the first place.  Alice Wellborn is a retired school psychologist whose columns I have been reading for quite awhile.  She shared a link on her facebook page No More Parents Left Behind today with Tips & Tricks for Getting an Effective IEP .  If you are a parent of a student with an IEP, have you tried any of these tips?  Are there any new tips listed that you can try for your next IEP meeting?

Specifically for Kingston parents, if you need someone to go to the IEP meeting with you (you should always take someone and having an advocate who is trained in all the laws and lingo is best), you can contact RCAL, Resource Center for Accessible Living (845) 331-0541, to request an advocate to attend the meeting with you.