ECS considers removing public comment

Susan Wade
Posted 2/19/20

ELDRED, NY — Against the backdrop of the inaugural granting of the Acts of Kindness Awards, Eldred Central School Board President Scott Hallock threatened to suspend public comment and move …

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ECS considers removing public comment

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ELDRED, NY — Against the backdrop of the inaugural granting of the Acts of Kindness Awards, Eldred Central School Board President Scott Hallock threatened to suspend public comment and move into executive session in an attempt to eliminate questions from the press.
This follows months of Hallock suggesting that questions should be asked in private rather than the public setting of a board meeting. The questions at this meeting pertained to the preliminary 2020-21 operating budget.

School boards are not legally required to allow public comment, but this reporter frequently uses the public comment section as an opportunity to ask questions of the board.

Questions are rarely posed by anyone else in attendance and the smattering of attendees are primarily teachers and staff or—in the case of this meeting—the family of one of the students being recognized.

Preceding the exchange between Hallock and this reporter, district treasurer Caleb Russell presented a very preliminary 2020-21 budget, noting that property tax rates will, as promised, return to 2018-19 levels. Details regarding both revenue and expense items will be fleshed out in subsequent presentations as details like state aid amounts and health insurance premium increases become known. The district also plans to reserve $500,000 for possible challenges to tax assessments.

Superintendent John Morgano announced that students Shawn D’Amico and Brenna Knibbs and local businessman Lou Monteleone were the recipients of the first round of Acts of Kindness Awards.

Morgano also said that the district, along with Monticello, Fallsburg, Liberty, Livingston Manor and Roscoe have been identified by the state as targeted districts. In Eldred’s case, the target is for academic improvement, specifically for seventh- and eighth-grade students identified as economically disadvantaged who did not do well on the state tests. Among other measures being taken to address this issue, summer school for math and English will be offered within the district. Student representative Kailee Mohan, who is also a member of the math honor society, reported that members of that group are offering tutoring services for students of all grades who could benefit from that assistance.

The National Honor Society is sponsoring a blood drive on Tuesday, March 17 at the high school from 2 to 7 p.m.

Joana Dutcher announced that, for personal reasons, she would not seek re-election to the school board. Her term expires at the end of the academic year.

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