Board of Education: Statement Posted 07/01/13

Letter from the Board of Education

June 26, 2013

Dear Community Member:
We, as the members of the Wynantskill Union Free School District Board of Education, are writing you to address rumors we have heard circulating in our community. As our fellow residents and taxpayers, we believe you deserve the straight facts.
This Board of Education is committed to two simple principles. First, we strive to provide your children with the best education our community can support. Second, we will be good stewards of your tax dollars. It would be irresponsible of us, as your elected representatives, to do anything less.
New challenges make reaching this goal difficult. Recently adopted state standards demand we change what we teach and how we teach. Those changes place added pressure on our teachers and staff as they work to raise student performance.  This level of change creates uncertainty, and that uncertainty creates a difficult environment for teachers who want to excel and for administrators who want to encourage that excellence.
In the midst of this change, the Board of Education and your school administrators are currently working to address some difficult situations.  Each of these is emotional, but we feel they must be resolved if we are to meet our responsibility to educate our community’s children for the future. 

Contract negotiations:
  • After more than two years of negotiations, we are extremely disappointed that we ended the school year without having settled a contract with the Wynantskill Teachers Association.
  • Our goal in negotiations remains to fairly compensate our teachers and to increase the time they spend teaching our students.
Employee evaluations:
  • Like all school districts in New York, we conducted our first Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) in 2013. This state-mandated process is designed to improve student achievement by ensuring we are teaching in a way that helps our students meet the new national standards called Common Core.
  • Although the teachers’ union and the board both approved a detailed plan to guide those evaluations, implementing the plan proved more difficult than expected.
  • We anticipate a smoother process with improved results in 2014.
Charges filed against a faculty member:
  • The Board of Education voted unanimously to begin the legal process to remove a teacher from the classroom for reasons of professional performance.
Hearing only part of the information, you could draw the wrong conclusions about these actions. As taxpayers and parents, you can be confident that Wynantskill Union Free School is a great place filled with administrators, teachers and staff who care and are committed to giving your child the very best education.
If you hear of anything less, we encourage you to contact a member of the Board of Education. 

Andrea Paone, President
Ann Marsh, Vice President                   
Matthew Hug
Christina Curran
Andrew Lanesey


  1. Dear Board,
    You indicate that you are "currently working to address some difficult situations," but the vote of "No Confidence" is not listed as one of them. I sincerely hope that you create a safe environment where people can speak honestly without the fear of retaliation in relation to this issue. I hate the fact that I feel I must send this message anonymously, but I feel that the Board has dismissed this vote as emotional and without factual basis before speaking to anyone who is directly involved. You state in your message that when "hearing only part of the information, you could draw the wrong conclusions" -- I challenge you to consider this as it applies to your own decision making.
    A dedicated, thoughtful WTA member

  2. This board has been incompetent for years. They have never represented taxpayers or parents appropriately. They only head nod to whatever the Superintendent says.They have no idea that THEY are the Superintendent's boss. How can a certain so called board member ever be given the evidence he is always looking for when he has only attended 13 out of 30 meetings during his tenure on the board? Is he really representing us well when he calls parents bullies and says the very people he represents are "full of hot air"? If you have been to any meetings over the past few years, all you hear from the board is "Trust us." Unfortunately,many of us did, and now look where we are! I am thinking of moving my family to Saratoga because at least their board and Superintendent listen to the parents,taxpayers, and teachers,as opposed to ours just saying everyone's reaction is emotional.

    The Board needs to step up and correct the mistake they made by hiring this Superintendent. They need to stop saying the teachers are reacting emotionally because they are unhappy about their lack of a contract and low evaluation scores. The parents and teachers are upset over the lack of respect and the poor treatment they have received by this administration. This Superintendent has lost her ability to lead this faculty, staff and students into a new school year. The Board needs to listen to this community screaming for help! NOW!

  3. I feel very disheartened that the board is not taking the staff's complaints of bullying, verbal abuse and retaliation seriously. The team morale is at an all time low not because of APPR or negotiations but because of gross abuse of power and intimidation. Many tears of frustration and intimidation have been shed this year among members who have had their jobs threatened and endured perspnal attacks. Please ask yourselves, honestly, why 28 members felt the necessity to stand together for change?

  4. I agree with all of the above comments. Your statement is an insult to us parents and taxpayers. You have not listened to what parents and teachers have been saying to you. Your Supt. as stated by a fellow parents has broken state laws by not providing remedial services to students who were required by law to get them. Have you spoken to any classroom teachers about this? From what I have seen from you in the years my family has lived here I could bet my house you did not.

  5. Just found this site. Could not agree more. I have a different question can someone please explain why this school moves teachers around more than any district I have ever seen? Do not blame it on class size either. I mean if you say these common core standards are so demanding then shouldn't you be leaving as many teachers in the same grade as possible. I understand there sometimes have to be a few changes or some teachers may request a change, but this place is ridiculous. Do you honestly believe this is in the best interest of our children or teachers. Once again I am sure you members of the board would just support the Supt. instead of actually asking her or teachers about it.

  6. I do not understand how we are to contact them when there is no contact information provided.

    Again proves one of the above comments about how Saratoga has handled this. Hiring an outside consulting firm. Where is our outside school firm? Oh wait we are just emotional,blaming it on contract negotiations, bullies, or full of hot air. Once again way to go school board!

  8. The board is fooling themselves if they think the staff that has left our school is of great coincidence. Same situation as saratoga.

  9. I say we should just go above all of these people who would rather blame or make excuses and instead contact James Baldwin our District Superintendent for Rensselaer County because at least he will listen. Everyone else is a waste of time.

  10. Very disappointed that the BOE did not include the teachers' vote of 'no confidence' In their list of on- going issues. Don't they think they need to also resolve THAT?

  11. Perhaps the BOE should try to contact other teachers that have worked for Dr. Henkel. Having worked under Lisa Henkel in the past at North Colonie, she was a tyrant. Teachers wanted to be transferred from the building as soon as any openings were available. If she didn't like you, she absolutely bully and harassed you. Thank God she was finally pregnant and had to resign. However, right before that resignation she was accused of cheating on the NYS tests...hmmm...really?!!? How did your school ever hire her? She has no business being a superintendent. If you did the appropriate research you NEVER would have hired her. I feel awful that the Wynantskill teachers are being put through this. BOE, I suggest you start believing in your some research and then do what is right for everyone.

  12. Notice the correlation between the above issue and what is happening in Saratoga? I am just curious if you have given yourselves the internal performance review? You have done such a wonderful job following your policies. You might want to re- read them again because you honestly are a joke. I am sure your superintendent' s performance review took as much time as you did investigating all the bullies I mean parents and the teachers complaints. Recently, friends of ours said that when they had a couple people come through to look at their house they said they liked it ,but could not make an offer after reading about the numerous parent and teacher complaints and the way the board responded to it. I honestly think you have brought back the "Know Nothing's" now at meetings you can say like they did when asked questions " I know nothing" the good news is at least everyone would believe you.I really hope you wake up and do what is right. just in case your not sure what that is we will point it out to you at your next meeting. If you seriously doubt these complaints you must be living in fantasyland.

  13. "As our fellow residents and taxpayers, we believe you deserve the straight facts." This quote is straight from the letter that the Board of Education mailed to the Wynantskill residents. I would like to point out that there is no mention of the No Confidence Resolution the teachers released a couple of weeks ago, which is a very important piece to this puzzle.
    Why did the BOE fail to include in this letter when informing the community of the “straight facts?”
    How does the BOE plan on letting the public know about this and how do they plan on resolving this "to meet our responsibility to educate our community’s children for the future?"