Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Messa does the political two-step…

however, as Ward 1 voters may remember, he was doing it to a different tune last Fall as he campaigned to be the next Ward 1 councilman.

Today’s article in the Observer Dispatch Trash pickup voted down in New Hartford, didn’t quite tell the whole story. It left out the names of the “ayes” and “nays”.

Paul Miscione and Richard Woodland voted to bring back the trash program, while Supervisor Tyksinski, Dave Reynolds and Jim Messa voted against.

We expected a "nay" vote from Tyksinski and Reynolds as they have been opposed to bringing back the curbside trash since Tyksinski took office, but Messa? That was definitely a surprise!

Messa ran unopposed last November to replace Don Backman for the Ward I seat on the town board table. One of his main "talking points" was that he would bring back the trash program. A little over six (6) months on the town board and already he voted against one of his campaign promises.

A little history...

At the October 23, 2013 town board meeting, as the 2014 budget was being formulated, Messa spoke and said he not only wanted to bring the curbside trash pickup back, but he also wanted to keep the current tag system and the dumpsters.

From the approved October 23, 2013 town board minutes:
...Councilman Backman agreed with the Town Supervisor but also yielded to James Messa, candidate for Ward One Councilman (in place of Backman) to reinstate the curbside collection, do the tag system and have the dumpsters simultaneously.
We’re not complaining that the trash program has been “trashed”. As a matter of fact, it was one of the better decisions that the town board has made in recent years. It was costly; took up highway employees time that could have better been utilized fixing other problems; and it generally turned New Hartford into a free-for-all junk yard for one (1) month each year.

Unfortunately, the town has failed miserably to advertise the new tag system, or perhaps the residents who are complaining that they want the trash program back just aren’t willing to give the new system a try. Certainly, the town’s website is not user friendly or very informative so good luck getting information on the tag system there.

However, what is disappointing is the fact that Messa, the ‘new kid on the block’ for Ward 1 pledged to bring the trash program back in all his campaign literature, but when the time came to make good on his promise, he voted "nay".

Messa did make one final statement after his "nay" vote to bring back the trash program on July 9th:
“I’m saying no because of the timing and the situation the town is in as far as staffing.”
How disingenuous Councilman Messa. You were at the October 23, 2013 meeting regarding the budget and heard the town board members discuss all the same reasons for not doing the trash program as were discussed at the July 9th meeting. You knew last October the reasons Tyksinski and other board members were against bringing back the curbside trash program, yet you continued to make that a "talking point" in your campaign literature. The odd part is that no one was running against you so there was no reason to make any promises you weren't willing to defend.

Could it be that you have now been informed that the $200 contribution to your campaign by Supervisor Tyksinski came with a price tag because so far it would appear by the votes you cast that you are clearly riding on the Tyksinski train and that could cost you in your next run for office! Hopefully, you won't run unopposed next time!

Here is the portion of the July 9, 2014 meeting with the discussion regarding the annual trash pick-up program:



New Hartford NY Online will have the entire July 9, 2014 town board meeting on our YouTube channel tomorrow.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING TOWN OF NEW HARTFORD, NY

The following legal notice was noted in the Sunday, June 29, 2014 Observer Dispatch:

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that the Town Board of the Town of New Hartford, pursuant to Civil Service Law Section 209.3, does hereby schedule a Public Hearing to be held on Wednesday, July 9, 2014 at 7:00 P.M., or as soon thereafter as reached in the regular course of business, in Butler Memorial Hall, 48 Genesee Street, New Hartford, NY, for the purpose of allowing the Town of New Hartford Town Supervisor and Teamsters Local 294, formerly known as Teamsters Local 182, to explain their respective positions on the Fact Finding Report of PERB appointed Fact Finder Murry Solomon and the recommended actions for resolving the bargaining impasse that exists between the Town and Teamsters Local 294 over the terms and conditions for the bargaining unit of employees employed in the Town Highway Department and represented by Teamsters Local 294 for the period subsequent to the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement covering the period from January 1, 2007 through December 31, 2010.

DATE: June 26, 2014 Gail Wolanin Young, Town Clerk OD: 6/29/2014

=======================================================

New Hartford NY Online has obtained a copy of the Fact Finding Report; click here!

We are also including a copy of the expired contract between the Teamsters Local Union 182 and the Town of New Hartford dated January 1, 2007 through December 31, 2010; click here!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

New Hartford Central School Board/Committee Meetings of June 17, 2014

We videotaped several New Hartford Central School board committee meetings as well as the regularly scheduled school board meeting held in the Bradley Library last evening.

The videotaped meetings include:
  1. Buildings, Grounds & Transportation Committee - regarding an incident and how the school plans to address security in the future.
  2. Budget & Audit Committee - A BOCES employee met with the committee to discuss the cost of school lunch increase to $2.25 beginning in the Fall.
  3. A conversation with Attorney Ferrara regarding a "retreat" being held between Attorney Ferrara and the school board.
  4. The regularly scheduled school board meeting where parents and teachers addressed the board regarding the recent senior class prank.
  5. The resolutions adopted after the executive session to include Superintendent Nole's contract extension to 2019.

All videos are available on New Hartford NY Online's YouTube Channel.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

In the Town of New Hartford, privilege of the floor…

appears to only be for the "privileged".

At the last town board meeting, we were told that there no longer is time allotted on the agenda for public presentations. Apparently, it was discontinued with the adoption of the 2014 Organizational resolutions. Tyksinski was quoted as saying, if you want to address the town board, you have to contact the town clerk by the Monday prior to the board meeting and let her know what you would like to talk about.

With the new rule now spelled out not only at the last town board meeting, but also in the Observer Dispatch, everyone was clear as to how to proceed if they wanted to address the board...right?

Since there was no public presentation listed on last night’s town board agenda; the business of the meeting got underway as soon as the Pledge of Allegiance was done.

A couple of resolutions were adopted and then, just as the town board was to vote on accepting the Comprehensive Plan, a voice from the back of the room asked to be recognized. Supervisor Tyskinski asked him to wait for a minute.

Then, just before the new zoning laws were adopted, Tyksinski acknowledged the person who wanted to speak to the board.

The resident apologized for missing the Public Hearing that was held last month on the Comprehensive Plan and zoning laws, but he wanted to address the town board on an issue regarding the zoning laws prior to the town board adopting the new law.

The public hearing for the Comprehensive Plan was held weeks ago; Tyksinski already said there are no longer public presentations unless you register with the Town Clerk; however, the person in the back of the room was recognized by Supervisor Tyksinski saying he would allow him to speak because of his “service to the town”.

You see, he was a retired New Hartford Police Officer. Apparently, the rules of public comment don’t apply to anyone who has “service to the town”.

Supervisor Tyksinski gave the person in the back of the room several minutes to make his presentation. Tyksinski even recessed the meeting a couple of times so that he could make calls to the town attorney for guidance regarding the question of whether or not it would be proper to grandfather the person’s project before the new zoning laws were adopted. (Town Attorney Cully was not in attendance at tonight’s meeting). Tyksinski even asked several questions of town employees who were in attendance regarding the development in question. After 16 minutes of conversation, the town board passed a resolution to grandfather the project that was started in 1994, but never completed.

Here is the video of that portion of the meeting:



The meeting continued with other items from the agenda. One of the items was introduced by Councilman Reynolds who felt that public participation should be re-instated. Discussion ensued.

We have to give kudos to Councilman Reynolds. He was the one who brought the subject to the table in the first place; voted in favor of public comments; and voted “nay” to require signing up with the town clerk if you have questions that you want to address to the town board.

At this point, it would be easier to just watch this part of the video than for us to try to describe the discussion!


Bottom line, as of tonight's adopted board resolutions, comments are accepted...but NO questions.  If you want to ask questions of the town board, the town attorney or an employee, you need to sign up with the town clerk by Monday prior to the meeting…unless of course, you “have service to the town” and are in good standing with the town supervisor.

In that case, apparently you can ask a question of the town board anytime during the meeting that you want, even involve the town attorney and also town employees...exactly what Supervisor Tyksinski says he wants to avoid by requiring people to register with the town clerk! Guess the town is run just like American Express...membership (in the friends & family plan) has it's privileges!

The law does not require a public comment portion of a public meeting, but courts have determined that the rules governing public participation at meetings must be reasonable and consistent so as to be fair to everyone. The town board is on a slippery slope to be sure!

The entire town board meeting is now available on our YouTube Channel.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

NHCS School Board President shuts down Board Member Flemma during “Other Business”…

Toward the end of every New Hartford school board agenda is an item called “Other Business”. Quite frequently, board members bring up items that they would like to address.

However, last night when Board Member Flemma asked to be recognized for comment, he was told by Board President Luker that he could not speak because he did not submit his item to her and Superintendent Nole for approval to appear on the agenda four (4) days prior to the meeting as required by board policy. Ms. Luker explained that "Other Business" is merely the time for Superintendent Nole to bring up items for discussion that occurred between the time of the agenda and the meeting.

Until last evening, board members have routinely brought up items under "Other Business". Ms. Luker even brought up an item under "Other Business" at the May 27, 2014 board meeting. We will get back to her item at that meeting in another blog.

While it may be board policy that all agenda items have to be run by the board president and school superintendent at least four (4) days prior to the meeting, nowhere in the policies could we find where "Other Business" is exclusively time for the Superintendent’s discussion items or that board members could not bring up an item for discussion unless the school superintendent gave his okay.

For clarification, we consulted the school board bylaws which are the written rules for conduct of the school board. Likewise, we could find nothing in the Bylaws of the Board of Education regarding Ms. Luker’s explanation of "Other Business".

What we did find in the board’s bylaws was:
BYLAWS OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION – Page 14

J. Parliamentary Procedure

Unless otherwise provided in the Board's Bylaws, the Board shall conduct all of its meetings in accord with Robert's Rules of Order Revised.
So since the board’s by-laws are silent on the subject of what qualifies as "Other Business" on the school board agenda and/or whether board members can discuss matters that have not been “blessed” by the school board president or school superintendent, we followed the directive in the school's bylaws and consulted Roberts Rules of Order Revised which states:
An agenda is essentially a program or listing of the events and items of business that will come before the meeting. It may be a detailed program covering several meetings in a session, or it may be a short list of the items of business to be handled in a routine board meeting. The agenda may (but doesn't have to) indicate the hour for each event, or it may just show the total time allotted to each item.
The agenda may be adopted (that is, be made binding on the meeting), or it may simply be a guide to keep the meeting on track. Adopting your agenda is sometimes a good idea because it gets everybody in agreement with the meeting plan at the beginning of the meeting.
Robert’s Rules has also has a FAQ:
Question 14: How can I get an item on the agenda for a meeting?


Answer:
For a proposed agenda to become the official agenda for a meeting, it must be adopted by the assembly at the outset of the meeting.

At the time that an agenda is presented for adoption, it is in order for any member to move to amend the proposed agenda by adding any item that the member desires to add, or by proposing any other change.

It is wrong to assume, as many do, that the president “sets the agenda.” It is common for the president to prepare a proposed agenda, but that becomes binding only if it is adopted by the full assembly, perhaps after amendments as just described. [RONR (11th ed.), p. 372, ll. 24-35; see also p. 16 of RONRIB.]
To the best of our knowledge, the school board has never adopted the board president’s agenda at the start of the meeting; therefore, Robert’s Rules say it is a proposed agenda, a guide, that can be amended by any member.

We decided to check out other local school districts to see how they handle discussions of board members for items not listed on their agenda.

Sauquoit Valley Central School has an agenda item “Miscellaneous Topics” that according to meeting minutes appears to be the time for board members to make comments not listed on the agenda. Interestingly, they also have a Public Comment section at the beginning and the end of each board meeting.

Whitesboro Central School has an item called “Discussion” that likewise appears to be a time for board members to discuss items not on the agenda. They also have a Public Comment section at the beginning and the end of each board meeting.

Clinton Central School has an item on the agenda called “Questions by Board of Education” which is self-explanatory. Their public comment time is toward the end of the meeting.

Holland Patent has an agenda item “Board Forum”, again self-explanatory. Their public comments are at the beginning of the meeting as are New Hartford’s.

It would appear that New Hartford Central School's by-laws do not match their policies and that policies are selectively applied depending on the person(s) involved. It also appears that New Hartford Central School Board Officers and administration does not like open discussion.

So the questions we ask…

Is the board policy as outlined by Ms. Luker and Superintendent Nole at last evening’s board meeting unreasonable?

Should school board members be allowed to speak during a meeting without the board president and superintendent’s blessings at least four (4) days prior to the meeting?

Are the administration and board president merely trying to stifle questions by a certain board member?

As taxpayers In the New Hartford Central School District, do you find it disturbing that the school board president and school superintendent try to control what discussions takes place in the public eye and are willing to go so far as to stifle discussion by board members?

Here is the video of that portion of the meeting.



You will find the entire meeting on our YouTube Channel later today.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Confusion as to how to handle sewer charges in the budget…

Really, Supervisor Tyksinski? Are you kidding? After the reports we have provided you, that’s the best you can come up with? Shameful!

According to an article found on the Observer Dispatch website:
“The situation is that what we did here was nothing wrong,” Tyksinski said. “The nonprofits were listed as exempt, but on the application there was some confusion as to how they should be coded in the budget.”
Supervisor Tyksinski, could you please elaborate because your explanation doesn’t pass the smell test! Sounds like the only confusion is right there in Butler Hall.

The assessment database software used by all towns and villages is actually a relational database containing several "tables" of information.

Here's how it works for the sewer charges:

Parcels that have sewers are tagged in the town’s assessment database with a special code that identifies what sewer district they are in. (Well, at least some of the parcels with sewers are…some of them have been incorrectly coded and pay nothing even though they are supposed to pay!)

But I digress!

Relational databases such as the one being used by the town and county to create our tax bills are built on logic. There's the first problem...logic is not always a requirement of government.

The information in the town assessor’s database is used by the Finance Dept. of Oneida County to produce the tax bills.

One such table in the relational database has two (2) sewer district fields that someone from the county populates with budget numbers entered by the town on the tax warrant; there should be one number for capital costs and one for operation and maintenance. Both budget numbers have to be present, in the right order, in order for the software to correctly produce each tax bill.

If you only supply one number, that number is plugged into the first field (capital costs) and the second field (operation & maintenance) is left blank.

Not-for-profits have to pay capital expenses, but do not have to pay maintenance charges. Since the town was only supplying one charge to the county, it was assumed by the database to be a capital expense and therefore, everyone including not-for-profits were being charged for capital expenses on their tax bills even though the bonds in the Consolidated Sewer District were retired years ago. In other words...garbage in, garbage out!

The Observer Dispatch article goes on to say:
Tyksinski would not name the outside counsel but said the board is going to “defend what we believe is right” if the organizations make their own legal responses to the board’s decision.
Really Supervisor Tyksinski…why won’t you say who the outside counsel was? The attorney the board approved to hire was named in the February 12, 2014 town board meeting as reflected in the town board minutes of February 12, 2014:
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2014

Sewer Fund/fees – Retain legal services

Upon recommendation of the Town Supervisor, Councilman Reynolds offered the following Resolution for adoption; seconded by Councilman Messa:

(RESOLUTION NO. 59 OF 2014)

RESOLVED that, based upon an allegation that the Town has levied sewer fees on approximately ninety (90) properties that are exempt, the Town Board of the Town of New Hartford does hereby retain the legal services of Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe, LLP, to research and determine whether any improper sewer fund charges had actually been made; said work is capped at a Five Thousand Dollar ($5,000) amount.

A roll call vote followed:

Councilman Miscione - Aye
Councilman Woodland - Aye
Councilman Messa - Aye
Councilman Reynolds - Aye
Supervisor Tyksinski - Aye.

The Resolution was declared unanimously carried and duly ADOPTED.
Oh, that’s right, now we remember…

At the May 28, 2014 town board meeting Supervisor Tyksinski said that the counsel that was originally hired didn’t work out so he, without further board approval, hired someone else, but he didn’t say who.

Tom Meyers of Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe, LLP was actually named by Supervisor Tyksinski as the person who was to be hired. Mr. Meyer’s firm is the town’s bond counsel…hard to believe that there was a problem with Mr. Meyers or his firm so grave that a new opinion had to be obtained from an un-named attorney. Unless, Supervisor Tyksinski didn’t agree with Mr. Meyer’s opinion, that is! Just conjecture on our part!

Hmm…Tyksinski won’t say who was hired...who could he have hired and why won’t he tell everyone the name of the attorney who came up with this legal opinion? How come he wouldn’t give a copy of the opinion to the town board at the May 28, 2014 town board meeting but instead told them they could read a copy if they came to his office?

This sure sounds like parts of the story are missing. Shouldn’t Supervisor have come back to the board with an explanation and a new resolution if he intended to hire another attorney to replace Mr. Meyers? Or was the Tom Meyers scenario a ruse and Supervisor Tyksinski really had other intentions of hiring someone that everyone would know because of their connections to town politics? Hmmm...

We have been telling everyone for years that the assessment database is riddled with errors.

Why does everyone think that Attorney Cully tried to bluff us with some legal mumbo jumbo to prevent us from getting a copy of the database?

Because we have the technical know-how to open the database and print out reports using the data. Of course, the town “leaders” always have the power to ignore us which is exactly what they do.

How long will taxpayers sit back and allow the town board to cover up the problems in the assessment database; the database being used to create your town, county and school tax bills?

Hiring a new town assessor will not change anything…the problem is beyond the abilities of an inexperienced database person.

Here’s a replay of our Letter of Protest regarding sewer charges that was sent to the town board in January 2014.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Have something you want to say to the New Hartford town board?

Better make sure to register with the town clerk for a time slot!!

Last night we learned that there is no more time agenda time allotted for residents’ comments unless you sign up with the town clerk prior to the meeting...although we're not sure what the cut-off time  to sign up might be...before the agenda is prepared on Friday preceding the meeting or right up until the start of the meeting.

After last night's town board meeting, we checked with the town clerk. She said she was aware that the organizational resolutions had been changed (she is the person who prepares the organizational resolutions in consultation with the town supervisor), but she had no idea that people had to register with her if they wanted to speak. She said she would talk to the Supervisor in the morning.

We checked with one of the councilmen; he had no idea of the change even though all councilmen voted on accepting the updated organizational resolutions at the January 8, 2014 organizational meeting. Guess the councilmen merely voted for the organizational resolutions with no idea of what is in them!

After we got home, a quick check of the organizational resolutions in the 2013 town board minutes compared against the 2014 organizational resolutions showed that agenda item #3, Consideration of Public Presentations, was indeed omitted from the Order of Business portion of the organizational resolutions.

The decision to eliminate public speaking apparently was a unilateral decision of the town supervisor who counted on the lack of attention of the town board to get it approved.

And, apparently he must have forgot to make the Deputy Supervisor aware that there is no longer a time allotted for the public to address the town board because when Tyksinski was absent from the April 23, 2014 town board meeting, the Deputy Supervisor was videotaped saying:



Don’t like the new rule? Sign in with the town clerk for permission to address the board at the June 11th town board meeting, unless the town clerk and supervisor come up with another plan after their tête-à-tête this morning!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Nole blames the Observer Dispatch newspaper...

...for the failure to properly notify the public of a change in the school board meeting start time.

New Hartford School Board meetings always start at 7:00 p.m., but last night’s meeting started with an Executive Session at 6:00 p.m. However, no notice was given to the public of the change in time. In fact, the Observer Dispatch meeting listings since Sunday has listed the start of the meeting at 7:00 p.m.

Mr. Flemma questioned Mr. Nole regarding proper public notice of the time change and Mr. Nole stated that the newspaper was informed and he has no control over what they choose to print. However, Mr. Nole was unable to say just when the newspaper was given the information because he said he is not the person who contacts them.

Nice try blaming the Observer Dispatch Superintendent Nole; however, perhaps you should sweep your own doorstep first.

As of yesterday, the day of the meeting, the Home page of the New Hartford Central School website listed the meeting start time as 7:00 p.m., and so did the school calendar that is found on their website so we are finding it difficult to “buy into your story".

Mr. Nole said that the agenda listed the start time as 6:00 p.m.; however how many people who are looking for the start time would go any further than the Home page of the school's website?

There was also some confusion as to whether this was a Special Board meeting or just a regular board meeting that convened earlier than usual. Whichever it was, we managed to get the word and made plans to be there prior to the start of the 6:00 p.m. meeting.

Before the meeting started, Mr. Nole tried to convince us that we didn’t need to be there because they were going directly to executive session that would probably last about an hour, but we decided to stay anyway. He did offer to let us take a couple of chairs out into the hall to sit on.

The Open Meetings Law clearly states if a meeting is scheduled less than a week an advance, notice of the time and place must be given to the news media and posted in the same manner as described above, "to the extent practicable", at a reasonable time prior to the meeting. The original meeting was noticed in a timely manner; however, the school board members were given notice of the change in start time 5 days prior to May 27th; the school failed to notify the public of the change on their website and it is doubtful that they contacted the news media.

The Open Meetings Law also states that a public meeting must be convened before a public body can enter into executive session. Therefore, even though Bob seemed agitated that we were there videotaping, we stayed with our camera rolling.

As soon as the board president opened the meeting, it was suggested that they go into executive session. As is necessary for compliance with the Open Meetings Law, Nole gave the following reason: “to discuss the employment history of a particular person regarding ongoing litigation.” Actually, under the law, the school is supposed to identify the litigants so the public is able to ascertain that they really had a valid reason to hold an executive session. So we guess we will just have to assume that the litigants were the school and an employee of the school.

After the motion was made and seconded, Mr. Flemma asked for discussion. You can hear his objections on the videotape below.



After the final vote was taken for an executive session, Mr. Nole walked up to us and in a rather frustrated tone asked us to leave. He said they would be meeting in the District Conference Room, a small room at the back of the library and he wanted us out in the hall to make sure that we couldn’t hear anything.

We mention this because of all the school board meetings we have videotaped, the board has never convened an executive session in the District Conference room; executive sessions are always held right in the library while we wait in the hall outside the library.


That leaves us to wonder just what was so top secret that Nole was afraid we might overhear? Why did they move up the time of the meeting to 6:00 p.m. instead of 7:00 p.m. just five (5) days before the regularly scheduled meeting without notifying the public of the change in time? Why was Nole visibly upset that we were in attendance?

At 7:00 p.m., the board began the normally scheduled meeting which lasted approximately 35 minutes. During that meeting the board passed a resolution to accept the agreement presented in executive session. They then voted to enter into a second executive session followed by board training.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014

Highlights of the 2014 Memorial Day Parade in the Town of New Hartford...

Monday, May 19, 2014

New Hartford Schools…From Gold Medal to Unranked!

Lately, there has been some clamoring online regarding New Hartford’s loss of ranking in the annual Best High Schools by U.S. News & World Report.

In 2013, New Hartford was recognized as a Gold Medal School by U.S. News; however, in 2014 New Hartford was not ranked at all because they failed to get through step 1 and 2 of the process used to determine the best schools according to U.S. News.

The question of the loss of ranking was raised by Lori Zaman, a former school board member, at the New Hartford School Budget Hearing:



Basically, Mr. Condro explained that the way that U.S. News & World Report ranks schools is a three (3) step process and while New Hartford passed the first part of the test, they failed in the second part and therefore could not continue on to the rankings.

According to U.S. News, the system for ranking schools in 2014 is actually the same as it was for the 2013 rankings; the year New Hartford was listed as a Gold Medal School.

We decided to do some background work to see just how the judging was done and what exactly is used to determine the best high schools in the U.S.

First of all, we note that the 2014 rankings are based on statistics from the 2011-2012 school year.

An article found on the magazine’s website written by Robert Morse, lists possible reasons for the change in 2014 rankings. Within the article is a link for a FAQ regarding the rankings.

The reason listed by Mr. Morse that seemed to fit New Hartford’s situation, specifically the failure to pass step 2 of the criteria, was:
1. Changes in relative performance on state tests: Some schools that were ranked in the 2013 Best High Schools rankings fell off the new 2014 list completely because they are no longer among the best performing schools on their statewide tests – meaning that their overall student performance on state tests during the 2011-2012 academic year did not exceed statistical expectations (Step 1 of the rankings methodology) or the performance of their least advantaged students was not as good as the state average (Step 2 of the methodology). Without successfully passing both of these steps of the methodology, schools were not eligible for the national competition for a gold, silver or bronze medal and don't appear at all in the rankings.
The purpose of Step 1 was to determine whether each school's students were performing better than statistically expected for the average student in the state. According to Mr. Condro, New Hartford passed step 1.

The purpose of Step 2 was to make sure that high schools progressing to Step 3 successfully educated all students, regardless of their socioeconomic or ethnic backgrounds. New Hartford failed to meet Step 2 for the 2014 rankings; although Mr. Condro did state that we were close to making the cut. However, close is not enough to go on to Step 3 for ranking.

Since New Hartford did not pass Step 2 which was based on the performance of their least advantaged students in relation to the state average, we did some further research to see what if any changes in New Hartford’s demographics might be a factor.

For our comparisons, we went to the NYS Education website to get statistics on ethnicity and economically disadvantaged students in New Hartford; the same statistics used by U.S. & World Report magazine.

Click here for a larger print version in pdf


According to the New Hartford School Report Card, the number of students in grades 10-12 had been steadily declining until the 2012-13 year. That year saw an increase of 26 students in grades 10 through 12 over the previous year. However, there also was an increase of 15 economically disadvantaged students over the 2011-12 year which is also double the number of economically disadvantaged for the 2008-09 school year.

What does all this mean, if anything? What does this mean for New Hartford Central School? Does it matter if New Hartford is not ranked among the Best Schools in the U.S. according to one magazine? Is the change in demographics a factor in New Hartford's loss of ranking or is there more to the story?

New Hartford is a great school that affords many opportunities to its students; no one would argue that point, but are we serving the needs of ALL students?

In 2015, U.S. News & World Report will be using statistics from the 2012-13 school year as a basis for their rankings. Given the increase in disadvantaged students, how will New Hartford fair in the rankings for Best High Schools in the U.S.?  Will it once again be a Gold Medal school?

We would love to hear some of your thoughts on the subject.

Tomorrow is the School Budget vote. Seven (7) people are vying for the two (2) open seats on the school board. Take the time to vote and choose who you think will best serve the interests of all residents; not just the whims of the administration. Take the time to listen to each of the candidates on the video in our last blog.

Voting Information

Place: New Hartford High School Gymnasium

Time: 7:00 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

New Hartford Central School Board Candidates...

There are seven (7) candidates vying for two (2) open seats on the New Hartford Central School Board. School board terms are five(5) years each. The candidates are: James G. Stephens, incumbent; Louis Shkane; Alexis Tangorra; Frederick P. Deck; Jesus M. Santiago; Ralph W. Fusco and Pamela H. King.

Each candidate in attendance was given five (5) minutes to speak at the May 13, 2014 Budget Hearing held at the New Hartford Central School Library.

Here is the video of that portion of the budget hearing:



The vote will be held in the New Hartford High School Gymnasium this Tuesday, May 20, 2014 from 7:00 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Please take the time to vote for or against the $48,476,646 budget with a change in spending of 1.5 percent and proposed tax levy increase of 1.9% as well as for the two (2) candidates that you feel will best represent your interests on the New Hartford School Board. There is also a proposition for bonding to purchase school buses at a cost not to exceed $430,000.

We will have the videotape of the entire budget hearing on our YouTube Channel later today.