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Tensions are showing on Guilderland school board

Retreat to solve conflicts causes finger pointing before it even begins

— Board President Barbara Fraterrigo, a longtime member, said the retreat would be used to discuss such concerns.

“From my standpoint, I think it is those kind of issues that we will be dealing with in the retreat process itself,” Fraterrigo said.

Board member Gloria Towle-Hilt agreed with O’Connell and said having board members not complete the survey makes the body appear uncommitted.

“We all need to ask ourselves how committed are we to this, because the survey was important for setting the groundwork for it. If that’s not important, then we need to think seriously why we are paying a facilitator and reserving two nights … if we are not serious about this,” Towle-Hilt said. “We have to have this, but we also have to do it 100 percent. We are here as a board, we are not here as individuals.”

O’Connell said Wiles “repeatedly” expressed in emails the questionnaires were required for the facilitator to begin research and preparation for the retreat.

“I don’t care if you are a veteran member of this board, a middle member, or a new member — we are adults.” O’Connell said. “We give our kids deadlines all the time in school. That is what we expect of kids, but we are not even expecting that of ourselves.”

O’Connell said she believes the retreat would be a “waste of time.” Fraterrigo reasserted the meeting would be good to work out frustrations, but also said newer members might not be as accustomed to their responsibilities.

“I think it is the learning curve … and as you go on in years you become more confident, you become more reliable I think,” she said, “so I don’t have any problems with continuing on with having the sessions.”

O’Connell also claimed some board members have been abstaining from participating in negotiations with the district’s unions, along with other topics, during executive session. The board is allowed to discuss certain matters, such as contract negotiations, privately in an executive session.

“You are not elected to be abstaining,” she said, “so this is not the first time that this has come up.”

When Fraterrigo asked if there was a consensus to continue with the retreat, O’Connell said she might not attend.

“I am not committing to be there,” O’Connell said. “I’ll think about it.”

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