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Guilderland school board faces changes

The Guilderland Board of Education swore in a new board member, renewed its president and lost a member to cancer all within a matter of days.

Guilderland School Board member John Dornbush died Wednesday, July 8, after a battle with cancer.

Services were Friday, July 10, and a mass was held at St. Lucy's Church the following morning.

School officials expressed sympathy to the family, and noted Dornbush's service to the school district.

Dornbush served as vice president of the board but did not seek re-election.

Dornbush is the second board member to die while in office this year. School board member Hy Dubowsky died March 8.

The board's Monday, July 6, organizational meeting featured the swearing in of Julie Cuneo, the newest member. Richard Weisz was chosen to remain president, and Catherine Barber was picked as vice president. Denise Eisele, who was re-elected to the board in May, was also sworn in.

It feels good to be official," Cuneo said. "I'm really excited to be on the board."

Prior to the organization meeting, Cuneo sat at the table with the rest of the board during meetings but was unable to vote on any motions.

Cuneo said she is focused on learning as much as she can about the procedures, programs, businesses and schools in the district.

"I'm going to meet with as many people in the school community as I can," Cuneo said.

She is advocating for the special education administration to remain intact, an expansion of health and fitness programs and better lunches for all students, especially those in the elementary schools, she said.

"Of course, within the constraints of our budget," she said.

An August report cited English Regents scores for special needs students as an area "in need of improvement."

Weisz said a dialogue within the district is vital in the next school year, especially as budgetary restrictions are likely with the shaky economy.

"I think the biggest priority we're going to have during the year is communication," Weisz said.

Weisz said, though, he is happy to have another year as president.

"I'm honored to have it," he said.

Weisz expressed sympathy about the loss of Dornbush, and said it is unclear at this time how the board will proceed. There is one meeting in August and one in September, at which time the board could opt to appoint someone to the empty seat.

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