Attending (15): Bill Dowd, April Dowd, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Terry Brewer, Ray Hannan, Charlie Foote, Jim Leyhane, Rommel Tolentino, Debbie Rodriguez, Dean Calamaras, Doris Calamaras, Roberto Maetinez.
Guests (1) : Jerry Steele.
PROGRAM: “Building a 21st Century Regional
Learning and Planning Community”
Terry Brewer introduced Dr. Jerry Steele, a former school superintendent with whom he has worked for a number of years at CASDA (Capital Area School Development Association).
Jerry, who is a member of the Hudson Shores Rotary Club, described the process, problems and progress made in a seven-district Washington County program designed to share services and staff and to try to reduce redundancies.
Those seven districts serve 6,736 students in a 550-square-mile territory. They have been considering sharing services, creating a regional high school, or consolidating several districts.
The essential questions that needed to be answered first included (1) How do seven districts share? (2) what already is being shared? And, (3) what new structures will be needed had to be answered first?
Data was collected and financial implications considered. Jerry displayed several graphs and charts of the financial implications, financial opportunities and sharing opportunities. The working group found that as enrollment was declining, instructional opportunities, especially with distance learning and sharing with the SUNY Adirondack, looked possible. He also discussed the potential savings through such collaboration and their major accomplishments.
Superintendents and board members from the seven disricts have been meeting and cooperating to get this program going. Jerry noted what a strong accomplishment that was, getting seven different districts to agree on such common elements as scheduling — a “common bell,” as he calls it. He also showed us a diagram for the Washington County School District Collaborative, something intended to lead to even more advantages.
PRESIDENT’S REMARKS — President Bill Dowd said, “I need to stress once again the importance of every member of the club doing his or her best to take part in some way, large or small, in all of our fundraising efforts. They underwrite the many community grants and services we provide which, after all, is our reason for existing. We have been experiencing an ongoing problem that many organizations experience – not enough people sharing the work. I want to take this occasion to again thank those of you who do make regular efforts, and encourage each of us to give some serious thought to what you can do on a regular basis toward being a Rotarian rather than just a member of Rotary.”
PRESIDENT-ELECT’S REMARKS — Terry Brewer echoed Bill’s call for more participation by members in all phases of our club, and said that would be a point of emphasis when he begins his presidency on July 1. He also made a point of praising Murray’s work in every fundraiser and willingness to always take on a heavy load on behalf of the club.
PROGRAM ASSIGNMENTS — A reminder was issued to all who have February and March program assignment dates. Please firm up your presentations or speakers and get the information to Bill as soon as you do so we can publicize them. Experience has shown we have the strongest meeting turnouts when we have the strongest programs.
“CANS IN A BOX” — Bill expressed the club’s thanks for those of you who contributed to the “Cans In a Box” food drive. Pat Bailey has delivered a portion of the items to the New Hope for Life Ministries in Nassau and Debbie Brown has delivered a portion to The Anchor in Castleton. If, for some reason, you have not contributed and wish to do so, or wish to make additional contributions, you can do so through Saturday at the Greenbush Area Y, our partner in this drive to aid local food pantries. Those items will go to the CEO Food Pantry in Troy.
DISTRICT CONFERENCE — Our club website and Facebook page now have information on the annual District 7190 Conference, which will run over three days in May in several venues in the Schoharie Valley. You obviously do not have to attend every day; there are social activities, a hands-on work project or two, a Sunday brunch at the historic American Hotel in Sharon Springs, and other attractions.
SIMULATOR GOLF — This Saturday’s scheduled simulator golf fundraiser has been cancelled due to a number of tentative reservations being pulled back. However, we have another one scheduled for Saturday, March 7. Every club member is urged to participate in helping publicize the event, through social media, flyer postings and word of mouth.
BOWL OVER POLIO — This annual event, held last weekend, was not as well attended as usual. The net proceeds were about $600, well off the usual $1,000+. Event coordinator Murray Forth said participation from club members was very weak.
55th CHARTER ANNIVERSARY DINNER — We now are just 35 days from our “55th Charter Anniversary Dinner,” scheduled for Thursday, March 5, at the Comfort Inn. Bill reminded everyone that program ad copy and logos must be turned in to him by February 13, with hopes that not everyone will wait till the last minute. Checks for ads go directly to Murray. Event coordinator Debbie Brown reported that a number of ads have been acquired since our last meeting. And, she said Budd’s Florist is contributing flowers for table centerpieces.
AFTER SCHOOL PROJECT — A letter has been sent to the superintendent of the Rensselaer City School District, offering a $3,000 grant from our club to underwrite the I-Ready after-school academic support tutoring program. This stems from two visits by Peter Rehonis, the school district’s special services administrator, to explain the potential program, and a written proposal by Jeff Palmer, the elementary principal, who submitted a revised proposal to answer some of our questions.
ROTARY HOME COOKING SERIES — There are three events remaining in the series. Two are sold out. One — “Chili On a Chilly Night,” to be hosted by Pat Bailey on February 21, has two seats remaining. Contact Pat or Terry Brewer ASAP to grab ’em.
HOSPITAL STAY PROJECT — Peter Brown presented a draft flyer for a program being developed by him, Jim Butterworth, Terry Brewer, and Robert Moriniano and others at the NYS School of Public Health. They are seeking input from, and endorsement by, the club for “Your Guide To a Better Hospital Stay.” He asked members to review and consider the project, which we will discuss at next week’s meeting.
NEXT MEETING — 6:15 p.m. Thursday, February 5, at Quigley’s. Peter Brown will present the program.