Aug 2014

Follow Saugerties BoE's Example (Outside Opinion)

The following critique of the Saugerties CSD Board of Ed, written by Jack McKeon of Chatham, appeared in the Register-Star

Reprinted from:
MY VIEW: Follow Saugerties BOE’s example
Posted: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 12:30 am
By Jack McKeon Chatham |

I am a Chatham High School student and I am opposed to the consolidation plan laid out by Ms. Nuciforo and the Chatham Central School District Board of Education. Tired of our board’s poor organization and their passive nature toward Nuciforo’s demands, I attended the Aug. 12 Saugerties Central School District’s Board of Education meeting with an invitation from George Heidcamp, board president.
Upon arriving, the first thing I noticed was the friendliness of the board members, to each other as well as my associates and myself. George Heidcamp and Thomas Ham, the president and vice president of the board, respectively, were both extremely welcoming, coming right up to us with smiles, shaking our hands.

The next thing that was different was the personality of the superintendent, Seth Turner. He was upfront and honest with the board and spoke knowing full well that he served the board, not the other way around. When he spoke, he always asked permission of Heidcamp and didn’t try to sway the board’s thinking. He showed that he knew who was in charge saying things like, “It’s up to the board, I’ll discuss anything.” This is very different than the interactions between Ms. Nuciforo and Chatham’s Board of Education. Ms. Nuciforo has constantly redirected discussions or cut them off completely if they don’t suit her agenda.
The “appointments and resolutions” section of the meeting was where the biggest difference was seen. This board moved efficiently and quickly under Heidcamp’s excellent leadership. He kept the agenda moving but also always paused to discuss anything that didn’t make sense to another member. Multiple times there were great, open discussions about certain decisions where almost all of the board members contributed, and more importantly, the superintendent did not. Heidcamp leads a tight ship and he makes for a great president.
The Saugerties meeting also had two “public recognition” sections of the meeting, one 20 minutes in the beginning, as well as another 10 minutes at the end. This is different than Chatham’s meetings where there is only one allotted public speaking time in the beginning. Having only one time in the beginning for the public to be heard is absolutely ridiculous. What if someone wants to ask something about an event in that night’s meeting? They have to wait for the next meeting.
That just lets our board members escape from the urgent questions people are asking about their decisions, and recently, their conduct. Some have said that it will just tack on more time to the already long meetings. To that I say follow Saugerties’ example. I urge the whole board and specifically board President Melony Spock to follow Heidcamp’s example. He is running a board efficient enough for a second public comment time.
All in all, the Saugerties Board of Education is a much better unit. They are cohesive, honest and effective in their duties. The members aren’t afraid to stand behind one another or to disagree. Because they don’t have to be. They don’t have a superintendent intimidating them from voting against her. Superintendent Turner stayed silent throughout the board’s voting and didn’t try to push his own agenda like Ms. Nuciforo has been doing and will continue to do if something isn’t changed. I commend the Saugerties Board of Education and I urge the Chatham Board to shape up and take charge.