By Rich Place

Appreciation of the district’s transportation staff and the tenure of two middle school teachers highlighted the Tuesday meeting of the SGI School Board of Education.

Recognition of the employees following a 50-minute public hearing on the May 15 school budget vote, which also includes a proposition on the much discussed P-TECH program.

Math teacher Kimberly Ploetz and AIS reading teacher Emily Mahoney were both granted tenure by the district and congratulated by members of the school board and administration.

Although middle school principal Shanda DuClon was unable to be in attendance at the board meeting, superintendent Kimberly Moritz read a statement from DuClon recommending tenure for both teachers.

“Kim (Ploetz) is always willing to go the extra mile for our students,” Moritz said, reading from DuClon’s comments, later adding, “she brings the concepts of math to life for our students.”

DuClon also complimented work Mahoney recently performed as the site coordinator during the ELA state assessment during the first-time that computer-based testing was used.

The district’s transportation staff was commended for its service and a brief intermission for attendees to enjoy cake was taken by the board.

“You guys have a really important role in this district,” said school board president Allison Duwe. “You’re the first person kids see when they start their school day and you’re the last person they see at the end of the day.”

The recognitions came following the district’s scheduled public hearing on the proposed 2018-19 school budget. Much of the hearing was reserved for discussion on the third proposition on the upcoming ballots: the P-TECH capital project.

“The most important thing for you to understand, I believe, about the P-TECH program is that it’s a partnership,” Moritz said. “It’s a partnership with Alfred State, it’s a partnership with Erie 2 (BOCES) and it’s one of the most complicated partnerships that I’ve encountered.”

Moritz has been an advocate for the P-TECH program, which will allow a handful of Erie 2 BOCES students — including some from Springville — to graduate from high school with an associate’s degree from Alfred State. The program will actually begin next school year by utilizing two classrooms in the high school.

The $14.73 million project, if approved by voters, will put an addition on the district office building and move the district offices to the middle school.

As part of official action later in the meeting, the school board approved a lease agreement with BOCES for the program, which will allow for the Springville district to be reimbursed for their local share, Moritz said.

“We will always own the building and the space,” she said during the public hearing. “There is no local share to the taxpayers because we have a lease agreement … that Erie 2 BOCES will pay the local share as a lease payment to us.”

Moritz said the lease also includes that BOCES pay the utilities for the space as well, although tasks like snow plowing will be the district’s responsibility.

Sharon Barley, a retired longtime teacher of the district, asked a variety of questions about the program that included aspects like parking, the building’s relation to Newman Street and what happens if the program fails in its first couple years.

Moritz clarified the district office building’s relation to Newman Street will remain as is despite drawings that illustrated Newman Street much closer to the building. She also said parking is not seen as an issue given the “countless empty spots” in the middle school lot.

Also as points of reassurance, Moritz told Barley — a former athletic director — that no athletic facilities will be touched in the project.

Should the P-TECH program not take off as officials hope, Moritz reminded that, because of the lease agreement, the district bears no financial risk in the project overall.

“It is the risk of Alfred State and BOCES because of our lease agreement,” she said, noting the P-TECH program has already been proven at about three dozen models across the state, including a site in Dunkirk.

In regard to the upcoming school budget, school business administrator Maureen Lee outlined the district’s proposed $38.82 million spending plan, a 5.4 percent increase from the current year.

The jump was due mostly to a $1.11 million increase in special education costs, Lee said.

A preview of all three propositions on the upcoming ballot — the budget vote, the bus proposition and the P-TECH program — will be outlined in greater detail in the May 11 edition of the Springville Times.

The board is next scheduled to meet the evening of the budget vote for an executive session to discuss the superintendent’s evaluation. The next regular public meeting of the board is set for 6:30 p.m. June 5 at the high school library media center.