Warwick Valley School District announces tenure awardees

Warwick. BOE also enumerates various funds to be held in reserve

24 Jun 2020 | 10:41

    In its first post-election meeting on Monday evening, the Warwick Valley School District board again convened by teleconference, as it continues the practice of social distancing during the COVID-19 virus pandemic.

    After taking care of some housekeeping details, Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Leach announced this year’s candidates for tenure:

    Stephen Sweeney, Secondary Associate Principal of the high school. Sweeney, who came to the district from Nanuet schools, “brought a wealth of knowledge and expertise ... (he) has a passion for students, a gentleman and a scholar ... a leader,” Leach said.

    Georgianna Diopoulos Grogan, Middle School Principal. Kids “run up to her and embrace her,” Leach said. “(We’re) excited for her to be on the team ... looking forward to having her be part of the district for years to come.”

    Michael P. Justiana, foreign language teacher at the middle school. “I’m totally honored to be part of this community that I love very much,” Justiana said.

    Katlyn Chester, music teacher, K-12, Park Avenue and Sanfordville Elementary. “I’m thrilled I get to be part of the community,” Chester said. “(It’s) a real honor.”

    Leah R. Mednick, Visual Arts, K-12, Sanfordville. “She’s so dynamic, so creative, has done an exemplary job,” Leach said.

    Victoria L. Pennings Cosimano, science (physics, earth science, robotics) teacher 7-12 at the high school. “Tori wears many hats,” Leach said. ‘She’s one of our alums.”

    Alexis C. Grable, math 7-12 at the high school. Saying she’s “made significant contributions,” Leach added, “We’re excited about her future.”

    John N. Garcia, students with disabilities 7-12, at the high school. Saying that Garcia is “Good in his subject area,” Leach noted that “Kids love him,” and “He’s a home-grown talent.” Also, he’s “been an integral part of (our) athletics.”

    Yvonne M. Koulikov, Instructional Technology Facilitator at the middle school and high school. “I’ve had many conversations with her about goal setting” for the district, Leach said.

    Janice O’Keeffe, science teacher 7-12 at the middle school. Leach said: “She’s at the top of the list with regard to what she does” in science.

    Kathleen A. Randall, foreign language at the high school. She is “one of the most popular teachers...she’s taken foreign language to the next level,” Leach said. He added that she is “one of the most-requested teachers” at the high school.

    Honoring the Class of 2020

    The virtual graduation presentation at the Warwick Drive-In was scheduled for Thursday, June 25, at 9 p.m.

    Small groups of students (about 40 or so) will receive their diplomas at a presentation of diplomas on Friday, June 26, and Saturday, June 27 at the high school football field. Students will be joined by their families and friends and will have a chance to get their pictures taken.

    “We’ll do this about eight times,” Leach said, “It will be a real pleasure.”

    “We’re still holding out hope,” for a live graduation on July 31 (rain date: August 1), Leach added, pending a decision by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

    “We’re starting new traditions,” Leach said, referring both to the virtual ceremony, as well as the WVHS Senior banners displayed along Main Street.

    Reserve funds

    In an email statement, Leach listed the district’s various reserve funds and their respective amounts:

    “The maintenance of reserves is essential to the preservation of the financial integrity of the school district. It is fiscally advantageous for both the District and the Taxpayer in that it helps mitigate current and future risks (e.g., revenue shortfalls and unanticipated expenditures) and ensures stable tax rates. Reserve Funds (legally-authorized accounts designated for a specific purpose) are an essential component in the District’s financial planning for future projects, acquisitions, and other lawful purposes. The District anticipates its reserve plan totaling $11.3 million, using about $1.3 million as a revenue source in the 2020-21 school budget, and likely using significant additional funds to address the added COVID-19 costs of opening schools in Fall 2020. The largest fund is the $5 million in the Capital Reserve (fully funded) addressing long-standing facility needs identified in the District’s required building condition survey. The voters typically must authorize any use of the capital reserve money, with voter-approved projects receiving about 64% aid in New York State building aid.About a total of $2.6 million in retirement reserves (ERS and TRS) offset fluctuations in required district retirement contributions, which are usually attributable to stock market performance.”

    Workers Compensation Reserve is $451,000.

    Employee Benefit Accrued Liability Reserve is $602,000.

    Looking ahead

    In a couple of weeks, Leach said, the administration’s focus will be shifting to a task force of subcommittees consisting of health experts, administrators, and parents as the district works to develop recommendations for reopening school in the fall, “while ensuring the health and safety of students and staff.” Leach added that all stakeholders will need to be “flexible.”

    Also, in light of the nation-wide protests in response to police killings of unarmed black citizens, as well as the inequities exposed by the coronavirus pandemic, the administration hopes to use this crisis “as an opportunity to address inequities in the system, with regard to policy and practice,” in particular.

    Leach added that the district must assure that all students have access to technology, particularly in the event that schools remain closed for an extended period.