School board braces for busy meeting

There are no more lazy days of summer left in the Niskayuna school district as board members gear up to tackle a crowded agenda at Monday night's meeting. Topping the agenda is a review of building plans for the high school that could include demolition of the building's C Wing. That dramatic plan would ease construction of an enhanced media center and other student facilities, according to information provided to the board last month by project manager George Weingartner with Sano-Rubin Construction Co., an Albany-based construction company.

The upcoming work at the high school dominates the district's $94.5 million facilities project that voters approved by a wide margin on Jan. 24. Throughout the summer, district officials have sought to nail down project design details so they can get an early start on the major work when construction season begins next spring. Board members even considered holding their upcoming meeting at the district's largest school to highlight the high school's importance to the project, but decided not to due to logistical issues.

We're going to keep the meeting at our usual spot in the district office, said school board president Barbara Mauro. "We thought about moving it but, with the work they are doing to prepare for the start of school, it works out better not to move the meeting."

Board members will also consider approval of a safe schools plan covering steps that teachers and administrators can take to handle students considered "dangerous or disruptive," Mauro said. Required under state legislation approved by lawmakers in 2000, the plan puts into practice recommendations outlined by Lt. Gov. Mary Donohue during several visits to area schools.

Locally, Niskayuna held a public hearing on the district's plan last month with little fanfare. A 38-page document, the school system's existing plan outlines membership for a safety committee including local police, a fire chief, parents and district staff. Taking a holistic approach, it promotes "developing our own caring and inclusive community" as a key district objective. The plan also identifies a dozen characteristics that the district emphasizes to limit violence and improve safety on school grounds.

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