The Putnam Examiner

Mahopac School Board Makes Meeting Changes to Attract Attendees

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Mahopac logoIn an effort to increase community attendance at its meetings and participation in school district matters, the Mahopac School Board has decided make some changes to its regular monthly meeting.

“We have been trying to figure out how to get more people to come out to our board meetings,” said School Board President Raymond Cote at the Dec. 11 board of education meeting.  “We have our usual fans but we were really looking at ways to entice people to come.”

The board decided to schedule the start of the meeting earlier, change its location and offer childcare.

“I have spoken to a lot of parents and they say that the problem has been childcare; finding someone to watch the kids,” said School Board member Leslie Mancuso. “This will make it more convenient. It starts earlier and they can take the kids with them.”

Rather than having the meetings begin at 8 p.m. as has been done previously, the regular meeting will start at 7 p.m. This will be possible because the executive session was typically held just before the regular meeting will now be scheduled for the Monday night prior to the meeting.

“The reason we all too often come in late is because we meet in executive session prior to a board meeting to discuss confidential matters and often our lawyers are there and we want to give those matters our full attention,” said Cote. “We feel like we have not been giving it enough attention. So we are going to try to have those meetings on a Monday before the meeting so we can come in here on Tuesday at 7 p.m. and start the meeting.”

The board also decided to have the Mahopac Falls School be the regular location of the monthly meeting to provided consistency. The school also has ample room for the district to provide supervised activities for the children.

“We will have the library open if the kids want to do homework,” said Cote. “Block city will open for younger children and we are going to have the cafeteria, which is a huge open room, open with activities.”

Staff and high school volunteers will supervise the activities.

The gymnasium will not be open to the public during the January meeting because it is already committed to a basketball league.

“We are going to try to make it more accommodating,” said Cote.  “We hope to get you guys out of here earlier and make it more appealing by encouraging people to bring their children.”

A different school will still be featured each month at the meeting. The principal of the featured school will come to the Mahopac Falls School and give a presentation.

“As you know, when we have a meeting at the other schools we do not take a tour of those schools,” said Schools Superintendent Thomas Manko. “So, Mr. [James] Gardineer of Austin Road [Elementary School] will still be giving us a presentation on the school in January.”

“Hopefully, fingers crossed, this will get more people to come out to the meetings,” said Cote. “Because we really do value everyone’s input and want to hear what you have to say.”

The district has scheduled the meetings at the Mahopac Falls School for January and February and will continue having meeting there if the board finds that the changes have been effective.

The January Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Jan. 8.

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