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Hamburg School Board Meeting June 9, 2015

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Old Wine, New Bottles

Mary Ellen Ellia who was fired by the Hillsborough County, Florida Board of Education is likely the next NYS Education Commissioner.    She will replace John King, who left NYS for Washington D.C..

Ms. Ellia is cut from the same cloth as John King, so don't expect much other than the same old, same old.   Ms. Ellia is a product of WNY higher education as stated on her biography.  

Ladies and Gentlemen (you too Dan) meet Mary Ellen Ellia:

MaryEllen Elia was appointed Superintendent of Hillsborough County Public Schools on July 1, 2005, following a nationwide search. District schools have successively earned more A and B grades each year of her tenure as superintendent. The district also earned its first overall A grade from the state of Florida for student achievement after her first year as superintendent, and has earned two more since then.
Ms. Elia, a lifelong educator, began her career as a social studies teacher in the state of New York in 1970. In 1986, she relocated to the Tampa Bay area after accepting a position at Plant High School as a reading resource specialist. She was promoted to several key positions in the district over the next 20 years.
She was the district's first magnet schools supervisor. She was promoted in 1997 to the director of non-traditional programs where she managed all magnet schools, as well alternative schools and drop-out prevention programs. Ms. Elia was appointed general director of secondary education in 2002.
In 2003, she became the district's chief facilities officer. In this role, she provided oversight of all new construction and was responsible for the maintenance and operation of more than 200 existing schools and educational facilities. She remained in this position until her appointment as superintendent.
In 2011, she received the College Board's District of the Year Beacon Award and was recognized with the Florida Department of Education's Data Leader of the Year award for leading the way in using education data to drive student improvement . In 2010, she received the Inaugural Governor's Business Partnership Award presented by Governor-Elect Rick Scott and the Florida Council of 100; the Women of Distinction award from the local chapter of the American Association of University Women; CEO of the Year from the Florida Supplier Development Council; the University of South Florida-Anchin Center Exemplary Leadership in Education award; and the Network of Executive Women 2010 Executive Woman of the Year award. In 2009, Superintendent Elia received The College Board's Outstanding Leadership award. She received the Florida Association of District School Superintendents' Superintendent's Award for Volunteer/Community Service in 2008/2009 and 2006/2007. In 2008, Mrs. Elia was named the Dr. Carlo Rodriguez Champion of School Choice by the State Board of Education. She was named Florida's Superintendent of the Year by the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations in 2007.
Ms. Elia holds a bachelor of arts degree from Daeman College; a master's in education from the University of Buffalo; a master of professional studies in reading from State University of New York at Buffalo; and certification in educational leadership.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

McGarry, List and Schneider elected to the Hamburg School Board

Robbin List, who was sitting in the Catherine Forcucci seat on the Hamburg School Board will be put aside as Robert Schneider who came in third in the school board election immediately takes the Forucci seat.   List and McGarry will take up a three year term on the Hamburg School Board.  Sally Stephenson and Patti Collins elected not to run again.

And so begins a new era of Hamburg dysfunction brought to you by the local lawyer,  self-proclaimed education guardian and demagogue Dan Chiacchia, a tacit member of the school board.  Mr. Chiacchia  bought the seats that Flynn and Hall occupy and now it has been suggested that his money has bought the three men who won last evening their seats on the board.

Laura Heeter will remain the only female on the all white male Hamburg School Board.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Hamburg School Board Candidates- a paradox to consider

Tuesday May 19, 2015, residents of the Hamburg School District will vote on the school budget, and elect 3 members to the school board.  The person who comes in third on Tuesday will fill the seat which rightfully belongs to Catherine Forcucci.

According to the Buffalo News and other sources, Mr. Robbin List, Mr. Mike McGarry and Mr. Richard Schnieder are being endorsed and funded by local attorney Mr. Daniel Chiacchia.    Mr. Chiacchia has been very busy getting people elected to the school board over the last three years.  One must consider if his activities constitute the forming of a political party, or what his real intentions might be?    

Dan has been blowing his wad on the elections- signs, newspaper ads, flyers and other election paraphernalia.   The election literature, funded by Mr. Chiacchia speaks of integrity and responsibility.   One must also consider if the three men, who are seemingly nice fellas, really know the fabric of the man who feeds their election?

Something else to consider Mike, Robbin, Richard and Hamburg voters, why is Dan so concerned about the school district?   His conduct as an attorney suggests he has professionally acted against the innocence of youth.  Mr. Chiacchia is the attorney of Cara Dickey, the Buffalo teacher who was found guilty of having sexual relations with her young 14 year old student.  Mr. Chiacchia attempted to make a case for Miss Dickey.  If that doesn't disgust you then consider Mr. Chiacchia's defense of the Hamburg lawyer, John Duffy*, who was found guilty of a hit and run murder of a young Hilbert College female student.  Mr. Duffy had been drinking the night the student was kill and he left the scene of an accident.  A young girl died, her parents are still suffering.   

So, Mike, Robbin, and Richard, are you OK with having your campaigns funded by someone who seemingly acts against the innocence of youth?  The money that funds your campaign comes from defending these kinds of heinous acts.   Instead, choosing to stand in court and defend those who have abused and killed.   Where is the integrity in this?

* It is rumored that disbarred attorney John Duffy who was released from prison after a very short stay behind bars after killing a young student, is working in the law offices of Chiacchia and Fleming on So. Park Ave.  Where's the responsibility in this?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Springville's Connelly stressed out?

Concerned Hamburger posted a video and post ( in color below)of Springville Superintendent Paul Connelly defending an email he sent to former Hamburg Superintendent Achramovitch in 2012.   Connelly was troubled by teacher Christopher Cerrone's activism against student testing,  and attempted to influence Cerrone's employment as a teacher by contacting the former Superintendent of Hamburg, Cerrone's employer.  Connelly wanted to "get" Cerrone at work, and exchanged a series of damaging emails with Achramovitch.   Cerrone a resident of Springville and vocal "opt out" advocate, was elected to the Springville School Board in 2014, and is now Connelly's boss.   One must wonder if the " damaging" emails as referenced in this short video have anything to do with Connelly's extended administrative leave.  Perhaps the Buffalo News should submit a Freedom of Information request to Springville and Hamburg and shake out the Connelly- Achramovitch exchange. 
Paul Connelly, Superintendent of Springville Schools is called on the carpet about the email he wrote to Steve Achramovitch, Hamburg Schools Superintendent about a Hamburg Social Studies Teacher, and Springville resident.  This is only one segment of the meeting.  
Apparently, the Board President is ignorant in his knowledge of Open Meetings Laws as he attempts to stop the public recording of this meeting.  His arrogance and ignorance reminds Concerned of the ersatz  Hamburg Board President Dr. Joan Calkins.

Watch until the end of this clip, you will not be surprised at the arrogance exhibited by Dr. Connelly towards one of his bosses, a Springville Board of Education member.  

Perhaps, Dr. Connelly needs to find a new job?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Cha is locked and loaded and ready with his " I care about Hamburg public school education" rhetoric,

and on goes the mawk and hooey.   School Districts across NY State will hold budget votes and school board elections on Tuesday, May 19, 2015.  Two seats are legitimately available, and the year left in the seat held by Catherine Forcucci may be available as a consolation prize for the person who comes in 3rd place.  On the other hand,  perhaps Mrs. Forcucci will regain her rightful spot on the Hamburg School Board.

Mr. Robbin List,  Mr. Mike McGarry, Mr. Richard Schneider, and Ms. Amy Brohfueher  have tossed their names into race.   Mrs. Sally Stephenson and Mrs. Patti Collins* have elected not to seek another term on the school board.

And Daniel "Cha" Chiacchia is up to his election shenanigans and has already posted a flashy glossy campaign  announcement on his Facebook page supporting the men in the race.   It appears that Hamburg's local attorney and Frontier graduate, Cha, doesn't realize that most people in Hamburg think he is a fool, and are tired of his smoke in mirrors theatrics.    Isn't their an ambulance that needs to be chased, Cha?

* It is rumored that Mrs. Patricia Brunner Collins is considering a run for a seat on the Hamburg Town Board.   This is not a joke, yet. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Taper Caper Dismissed

NYS Supreme Court Justice Devlin dismissed the frivolous lawsuit filed by Hamburg Central School District,  and bull dogs Dr. Joan Calkins Mr. Steve Achramovitch,  Mrs. Patt (bubble over the eye) Collins,  Mr. Gregory Wichlacz, Mr. Matthew ("check out my rantings on Facebook") Dils,  Mr. KC Neyman,  Mrs. Diane Reynolds,  and Mr. T.  Bagley against S. Stephenson, L. Stephenson and M. Kavanaugh.

Three years after the plaintiffs in the taper caper case filed a lawsuit against the defendants,  NYS Supreme Court Justice D. Devlin dismissed the matter because, according the Buffalo News,  there were no grounds on which to move forward.    It is very clear HCSD and the vitriolic former and present members of the school board and district administrators file the lawsuit against the three women as acts of harassment and retaliation.

Concerned Hamburger learned the plaintiffs, who filed the lawsuit in 2012 when they were all on the dime of the Hamburg Central School District taxpayers,  made little movement in the case against the three defendants.   The only motion made by the HSCD and the individual plaintiffs was made two years ago.    Then, the lawyer for the district, Mr. Richard Sullivan, filed a subpoena on Google in search of the identity of Concerned Hamburger and bloggers Klozman and Super.   The subpoena was quashed in 2013.*  And, the school district was marred by the sea of bad publicity.

It seems to Concerned Hamburger that the former members of the Hamburg School Board and Hamburg Central's  objective was to annoy the defendants by dragging them through the legal wringer.   The frivolous lawsuit was filed days before Sally Stephenson was seated as a school board member.   The school district and the plaintiffs, riding the taxpayers coattails,  were on a spending spree with the law firm Harris Beach.

Judge Devlin ruled to dismiss the case, but strangely did not award attorneys fees and damages to the defendants.  According to a source, the defendants are planning an appeal in an effort to be granted attorneys fees and damages, and are considering  other formal legal action against the plaintiffs.  This time,  Dr. J. Calkins,  Mr. Achramovitch.  Mrs. Collins, Mr. Dils, Mr. Wichlacz, Mrs. Reynolds, Mr. Neyman and Mr. Bagley will be on their own dime because they would not be entitled to indemnification by the district under NYS law.     Our source indicated that the very content of the recording reveals the caustic nature of the plaintiffs.  We were told that at one point in the recording, Mr. Wichlacz talks of stun gunning citizens who question the school board, and Mr. Dils suggests he would have been wise to bring his gun to the meeting of September 21, 2010.   Perhaps both of these men and other members of the plaintiff group would be well advised to seek anger and wrath- management therapy.

Surely the hostility of the plaintiffs is easily document.

* The district did not stop seeking Concerned Hamburger's identity,  Doctor Richard Edward Jetter and the present school board through attorney Andrew Freedman hired a firm called DIGITS to electronically monitor the homes of the defendants in this matter.  Once again, the school district wasted taxpayer dollars on a wild goose chase.   Much like the Erie County Sheriffs departments use of eavesdropping  technology, the school district hired a private firm to "spy" on the defendants in their private homes.     Yes, you read this correctly.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

It was the Best of Times, the Worst of Times

....it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. " C. Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.

One is reminded of the the opening sentence of Charles Dicken's great novel upon considering the paradox of spending in the Hamburg School District.   The best of times were captured when ousted board member Catherine Forcucci uttered upon the hiring of Richard Edward Jetter just one short year ago, looks like Santa is coming to the Jetter household.  She was removed from office for speaking the truth. 

The best of times were bestowed upon district administrators Brent Jordan, Barbara Sporz and Colleen Kaney less than one year ago when they were tenured and given double digit raises.   On August 10, 2014 Concerned Hamburger awarded these administrators the Hamburglar awards (see post:  August 10, 2014 Hamburg Cabaret).   The lawyers got a piece of Santa's merry and mirth.  Since hiring the law firm of Hodgson Russ in January 2014, the legal expenses in Hamburg surely must be approaching the $400,000 mark.  So, you see readers, public education isn't about children, please be realistic.  The superstructure of public education is built upon what is taken from the education of children and given to the adults.  Its the best of times for those who control the purse strings.  It is the worst of times for the children.  They are entering the educational winter of despair. 

Last evening, Hamburg presented a bleak budget picture.    The worst of times looms again for the students and teachers of Hamburg, but those designing the cuts and who have enjoyed sizable raises and promotions under the Richard Edward Jetter season of darkness remain safe.  

Those on the Hamburg School Board:  D. Yoviene, Cameron Hall, T. Flynn the turd, Patti Collins, and L. Heeter- the members in the majority who steal tax dollars from children and pad the hands of the lawyers to execute their own personal agendas should be tarred and feathered and made to stand in the public square. 

Some of the proposed non-mandated program cuts for 2015-16 school year are:
  • Kindergarden program and 12 teachers. 
  • Sports : modified, junior varsity, varsity equipment, supplies, & sundry sports items
  • 1/2 day kindergarden program and 6 teachers.
  • 4 Elementary teachers.
  • Pre-kindergarden
  • Advanced Placement courses at Hamburg High- 3.4 teachers
  • Business Department- 3 teachers
  • Teacher Aides- 7
  • Clubs- gone
  • Elementary Music- 2 teachers
  • Pre-K Transportation- gone
  • Math- 1 teacher
  • EMT- 1 teacher 
  • Technology Program- 1 teacher
  • Library- 1 Librarian
  • Health- 1 teacher
  • Counseling- 1 Counselor
  • Finance Academy- 1 teacher- drop graduation requirement
  • Social Worker- 1 
  • Non- League Sports Programs- gone
  • Health- eliminate Health Science Academy- 1 teacher
  • Social Studies- 1 teacher
  • Late Bus Runs- gone
  • Art Program- .8 teacher
  • Buildings and Grounds- 1 position
  • Conferences- gone
  • Foreign Language Teacher- .4 teacher
  • Field Trips- gone
  • Private School Bus Runs- gone

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The winds of change are blowin

Erie One BOCES Board of Education  has named Lynn Fusco, Niagara Wheatfield's superintendent to the District Superintendent post vacated by Donald Ogilvie last Spring.   Miss Fusco will assume her role with BOCES effective July 1, 2015.     It's a monumental week in Western New York for woman educators.

Miss Fusco's appointment comes a few days after the New York State Legislature gave the nod to Catherine Collins to serve on the New York State Board of Regents.  

And it's good news on the home front,  the Hamburg School Board has seemingly found a man of character, Mr. Cornell,  to run the district.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Hamburg Schools plan a rally against Andrew Cuomo

Hamburg teachers, staff and parents are having another rally.  Hopefully, this one will turn out better than the one last May in support of Richard Edward Jetter and his faux fender bender.  The rally will be held Wednesday March 11, 2015 from 5- 6 p.m. at Hamburg High School 4111 Legion Drive Hamburg, N.Y..

At this rally, the Hamburg school community is taking on "the man" in Albany,  Governor  Andrew Cuomo.  It is no secret that Governor Cuomo is playing a game of cat and mouse with students, teachers and school district funding.     Sadly,  Andrew has lost sight of his upbringing.  The very womb from which he was birthed belongs to his lovely mother- a St. Johns University Teachers College graduate and former elementary school teacher.  Andrew, perhaps you should pick up the telly and ring your mum and ask her what she thinks of your attack on her profession?

Good luck with the rally Hamburg.  Its a good start.  But,  what you need is real action.  Sitting  on your own Board of Education is at least one board member, who actively supports Cuomo's attempts at public school reform.   Mr. Thomas Flynn is a misanthrope.  He detests unions ( of all shapes and sizes), tenure and teachers.  Mr. Flynn has made public remarks in support of Cuomo's attempted tenure grab, and you might recall his public temper tantrum when the Hamburg teachers did a collective thumbs down to APPR.   Flynn said publicly after approximately 75% of the teachers said "no" to APPR,  "shame on the HTA- Hamburg Teachers Association.".  Perhaps the rally-goers need to call-out Mr. Flynn's real motives for sitting on a school board.

Hamburg teachers and staff  should consider  joining forces with Kenmore -Town of Tonawanda School Board President Bob Dana.  Mr. Dana proposes that Ken-Ton stop using test scores in teacher evaluations and stop administering tests in grades 3-8.  Mr. Dana, a former teacher, calls his proposal to push back the Guv'nor an act of "civil disobedience".   Only time will tell if Mr. Dana's radical ideas will materialize.  It seems that if other districts, like Hamburg, glom on to the no test- no evaluation Dana train,  Andrew will sit up and take notice of the locomotive of activism heading toward his Eagle Street mansion.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Hamburg School Board where is the alternative tax exemption for our brave veterans?

Recently, the Buffalo News reported on the veterans tax exemption on real property and the available tax savings for those men,women and their families who have sacrificed greatly to ensure our life, liberty and property. 

The News provided a glimpse at the savings for veterans in fifteen local school districts, Hamburg Schools was not mentioned.  It appears that the Hamburg School District and Hamburg School Board is ignoring the alternative tax exemption for veterans.  
The last time the citizens and veterans of Hamburg heard about the available tax savings for our brave men and women was one year ago.   According to district records, there has been no discussion by the Hamburg School District nor the Hamburg School Board on this important matter since February, 2014.  

At that time, Director of Administrative Services Barbara Sporyz reported that research and analysis needed to be done regarding the New York State Real Property Tax Law, section 458-a, which provides a limited exemption from real property taxes for real property owned by persons who rendered military service to the United States, provided such property meets the requirements set forth in the law.  

So, Ms. Sporyz what's the hold up on the tax exemption conversation?  Have you picked up the phone and called the assessors?  What is the impact on the non-veteran tax-payers?  It's clear there is a concern by some that,  "if the parcel is exempt does the balance get picked up by the other taxpayers". The answer to that is, yes it does.  But who cares?  One wonders if these non-veteran folks who might be concerned about an  uptick in their taxes gave any thought to what their lives might be like if our veterans didn't serve?  

February 2014 Hamburg Board Minutes
In February 2014, the community was told there was not enough time to implement the the exemption of the 2014-15 school year.  It remains perplexing why Hamburg has not addressed this important issue for the 2015-16 school year.   Mrs.  Sporyz claims she spoke to legal counsel regarding the exemption.  At what cost to the taxpayer was that conversation?  It seems to Concerned Hamburger, that the Hamburg School District is intentionally ducking this important tax break for military veterans. There is no need to speak to lawyers at $300.00 per hour.  A simple "google" search or old fashioned telephone call to neighboring school districts might do the trick.   

It's not rocket science, it's a process that is relatively simple.  Lawyers are not needed to address the veterans' tax exemption. The fifteen or so districts mentioned in the Buffalo News article seemed to have little trouble figuring out what to do to make the veterans' exemption happen. 

What is needed in Hamburg is a school community that recognizes and values the services and sacrifices of those who risk their lives so our freedom is secure.  

Since last February, Ms. Sporyz has been promoted, tenured and given a generous raise. She makes over $125,000 with salary and benefits.  Her business office has accumulated a record fund balance(district rainy day account)and at the same time cut teachers and staff positions , cut clubs and classes, pays two superintendents, and squandered 1/2 million dollars with Andy Freedman, Esq.  et.al in the Forcucci witch hunt.  

So, Mrs. Sporyz, what about the veterans?  When will the Hamburg School Board spend time discussing this much deserved benefit for our brave citizens?  Hamburg has many service personnel.  The lamp posts in the village honor the brave ones among us.  Hamburg Schools has produced hundreds of service personnel, some gave their lives in the service of this great nation.  So, when will the Hamburg School Board do their job and bring the tax exemption benefit to a public hearing for a discussion, then adopt a resolution and vote?  

The March 1, 2015 deadline is around the corner. 

Here is a bit of background information on the New York State Real Property Tax Law, section 458-a
A resident home-owner who was honorably discharged after full-time active service during a time of war (dates as determined by NY State Taxation & Finance) in one of the 5 branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, the surviving un-remarried spouse of such a veteran, or a Gold Star Parent is eligible. National Guard service is not considered to be active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces. In general, reservists are also excluded unless they performed significant, full-time active duty. Those who served outside the time of war dates established by NY State may be eligible for the Cold War Veteran’s exemption, but they are not eligible for an exemption on school taxes.

Components of the alternative tax exemption are as follows: 

Basic Exemption:  Tax exemption of 15% of the assessed value of the property, not to exceed $12,000 or the product of $12,000 multiplied by the latest state equalization rate for the assessing unit, whichever is less.

Combat Zone:  For veterans who are documented to have served in a combat zone an additional tax exemption of 10% of the assessed value of the property, not to exceed $8,000 or the product of $8,000 multiplied by the latest state equalization rate, which ever is less. 

Disabled Veterans:  Where the veteran received a compensation rating from the Veterans’ Administration or Department of Defense based upon a service related disability, an additional tax exemption on the qualifying residential property to the extent of the product of the assessed value multiplied by 50% of the veteran’s disability rating, not to exceed $40,000 or the product of $40,000 multiplied by the latest state equalization rate, whichever is less.