Members of the Cooperstown Board of Education voted, 3-1, at the Nov. 3 meeting to participate in the nation’s Race to the Top challenge.
The vote was not legit, however. At the Nov. 17 meeting, Cooperstown resident Catherine Ellsworth, a former school board member, told members of the board that it did not have a quorum, meaning resolutions and motions must be duly adopted by a majority of the whole board, not simply a majority of those present at a meeting. For example, if a board has five members and three are present at the meeting, all three would have to vote in favor of a resolution for it to pass.
Three members did not attend the meeting, and because BOE President Anthony Scalici voted against the resolution, the resolution technically did not pass.
Scalici said he could not argue with Ellsworth and said she brought up a good point that was not raised at the last meeting.
Superintendent C.J. Hebert said although a resolution was not necessary, he would ask the board to vote again with a full board present during the meeting. The resolution passed, 6-1, with Scalici still against the motion.
The application to participate in the program was sent out Monday, Nov. 8. Scalici said he feels “skeptical” about getting drawn in.
“I understand the value of participating in the BOCES program because it helps out the other districts,’’ he said at the Nov. 3 meeting. “I do not see any money actually going into classrooms and I just find there are a lot of numbers. It is a race from the top not to the top and I can’t buy it in terms of where we are spending our education dollars.”
RTTT was authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which was signed by President Obama on Feb. 17, 2009.
It establishes federal goals for education and offers grants to reward states that have already demonstrated support for and success toward implementing these goals, and offers incentives to states to align or further align with federal goals. New York State was selected as a winner in the second round of the federal RTTT challenge and has been awarded close to $700 million.
Hebert said he believes it is a “severely underfunded mandate,” but believes jumping onto the bandwagon is the right thing to do in these economic times.
“It is hard to pass up funds right now,” he said.
Hebert said the district has not taken the decision lightly and has had several discussions in the past weeks whether or not this is advantageous for Cooperstown to participate in or not .He said the requirements for increased student performance are going to be there regardless of the district’s participation. According to Hebert, participating in the grant funding will give CCS some opportunities to purchase services from BOCES and provide some support in professional areas.
Hebert said, “It (RTTT) is a good idea certainly, and I think the Regents are headed in the right direction, but it is a big step to take. This might be a steep incline to undertake for all schools.”
According to Hebert, CCS’s portion of the funds for four years is going to be $38,997.
Also during the Nov. 17 meeting, Jean Schifano was appointed as a board member. She will be replacing Noreen Polus.