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Superintendent Ehresmann's impression of Chatfield Schools

Fri, Feb 19th, 2010
Posted in Education

Interim superintendent Greg Ehresmann (right) shares his impressions of Chatfield Schools with board chair Jerry Chase (left) and the rest of the school board on February 16. Photo by Abby Stocker

Chatfield's new interim superintendent, Greg Ehresmann, was present at the Chatfield school board's monthly meeting on Tuesday, February 16, 2010. Agenda items included an update on CCTV, discussion on action by the state legislature, and a report by Superintendent Ehresmann.

Matt Opat, who recently stepped down as the chairman of the City of Chatfield Cable Access Board, started the meeting off with an update on CCTV's broadcasting services via cable television and the internet over the past year. Opat reminded those present that the organization, which started out as a one-man, one-camera operation, is now in its tenth year, with one part-time employee and 30 volunteers bringing over 200 new programs to Chatfield residents annually. In the future, CCTV hopes to include Chatfield students in their programs with student-run broadcasts and slideshows of school news and lunch menus. Opat also pointed out that the CCTV video streaming service online received over 5,700 views in the last year. "You are getting your bang for your buck," Opat told the board, thanking them for their support of CCTV and encouraging their continuing help with the program. Board chair Jerry Chase agreed with Opat concerning the program's value to the community, adding that the board would "definitely stay behind it."

Continuing uncertainty regarding action taken by the state legislature was also an item of discussion. Board member F. Mike Tuohy reported that the issues concerning Chatfield have received good press, adding that those who have read the Rochester Post-Bulletin over the past weeks should have a fairly thorough understanding of the situation. In his report to the board, Superintendent Ehresmann added more information, noting that rumors about the state withholding money from school districts are only partially true. Though the state plans to hold back payments from districts in March and part of April, all money will be repaid to schools by May 30. Ehresmann voiced his confidence that Chatfield would be fine financially despite the payment delay, pointing out that though the district will miss out on about $740,000 for the weeks allotted, their reserve fund of over $1 million will be more than ample to tide the finances over until receiving state funds in May.

Ehresmann also summarized his impressions of Chatfield School District based on his first 25 days as superintendent, assuring the board that the district does "have a good thing going" but that there are also several practices which he feels should cause the board concern. While Chatfield's growing enrollment, supportive community, and strong contingency fund should all be attractive to potential candidates for the long-term superintendent position opening up this summer, Ehresmann is concerned that "there seem to be too many chiefs" making decisions about spending in the district. For instance, after the board passed a motion to draw up plans for bathroom renovations at the high school during their last monthly meeting, Ehresmann noted that others working in the school seemed to interpret the board's action as a go-ahead signal for the entire bathroom renovation project. Ehresmann told the board that some of the projects on the renovation "wish list" need to be finished, but that the board "can't end up with less things up here for the kids than you started with," referring to leaking spots in the roof that haven't been addressed. He also voiced concern over the necessity of either deficit spending or cutting school programs next year, again pointing out that the quality of education for the students should not be sacrificed. Thanking Ehresmann, Chase commented, "Whether we like the news or not, we want to hear it."

The Chatfield school board will hold their next monthly meeting on March 15, 2010.

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