Teresa Gilles was sworn in as president of the Amherst school board and Valerie Neidert was named vice president Monday night as the educational body met for the first time in 2018.
The year brings a significant change to the board’s meetings.
Starting in February, they will be moved back an hour to begin at 5:30 p.m.
Gilles said meetings have traditionally been at 4:30 p.m. to accommodate staff and students who attend to make presentations to the board.
But she acknowledged the time was not ideal for many who wanted to attend.
“The public has (said) that they would really like to come. We want to be more open and listen to the community and what they want,” she said. “People kept asking for it, so we thought we’d give it a whirl.”
Meeting times became a sore subject for the school board in 2014 when board member Bob Kamnikar, who did not run for reelection this fall, argued constituents could simply not make it to meetings held during the work day.
Then-president Ron Yacobozzi called the debate “a waste of time” and said parents would find ways to attend meetings in which they were interested.
Meetings in 2018 will be held Feb. 12, March 19, April 16, May 21, June 18, July 16, Aug. 13, Sept. 17, Oct. 15, Nov. 19, and Dec. 17 at the Amherst Steele High School creative learning center.
Among the first votes of the year was the approval of $1 million in summer building and grounds projects.
The largest expenditure, at an estimated $415,000, is the replacement of the Nord Middle School roof.
The next big-ticket item is the $225,000 transformation of the Amherst Junior High School library into a media center similar to the one opened this past year at Steele.
About $100,000 left over from renovations last year at the high school will be plugged into the project, said district superintendent Steven Sayers.
He is also in talks with the Amherst Schools Educational Foundation; there is “a very good possibility” the nonprofit will green light $120,000 toward the AJHS library makeover, though that’s not a done deal.
Other summer projects include $180,000 in technology purchases, $50,000 worth of parking lot paving and sealing, $50,000 for the creation of an orchestra room at Steele, $25,000 for Nord upgrades, $25,000 for landscaping, $15,000 for a new mower, $10,000 to buy a used van, and $5,000 for miscellaneous maintenance equipment.
In other business, the board agreed to open enrollment for the 2018-2019 school year.
While a new school is built, quarters are tight at Nord Middle and Powers Elementary schools. No open enrollment is accepted there above the outside students already attending.
But a large AJHS class moving up as freshman to Steele is expected to allow more open enrollment for grades six to eight.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
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