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Parents bemoan potential loss of services

Two things weighed heavily on parents' minds at the North Colonie Central School District's Monday, March 14, budget presentation: the addition of two full-time counselors and the elimination of the Chemistry Center at Shaker High School.

During a presentation of the staffing reductions for the 2011-2012 school year, North Colonie Superintendent Joseph Corr said the district is proposing to give two counselors who were formerly under contract with the Colonie Youth Services permanent positions at Shaker High School.

The plan is to offer those two counselors, which the district was already paying a total of $100,000 for each year, positions as staff members for an increase of $53,796. In negotiations with bargaining units, Corr said he took the legal counsel's advice and offered the increase to keep the counselors at North Colonie.

I have a real issue with the counselor position, said district parent Mark McCarthy. "If we have been contracting them for so long, do we need to do this? With all due respect, I don't understand them [bargaining units] pushing this issue this year."

The reason for keeping these counselors on, Corr said, was because they provide a service of assistance in situations such as crisis management, bullying, substance abuse, behavior, study skills and peer relationships in both Shaker Junior High School and Shaker High School. Some parents felt the addition of those two positions would result in the elimination of teaching positions.

Bob Bedell, head of the North Colonie Teachers Association, said it was a good move on the district's part to keep those counselors because it suffered a massive loss when one left the district to head to Shenedehowa.

"The district did what it should have done," he said. "The kids need these because the kids are troubled sometimes and need the extra help in studying. I'm proud to say it will be able to keep these people."

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