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At their last meeting, the Crestwood School Board recognized two special employees of the month. First up, Crestwood Primary Principal Cindy Ducca honored first grade teacher Sara Picone, thanking her for her special ability to “make learning fun.” As an example, she cited Mrs. Picone’s summer ice cream party, where 24 of 28 of Picone’s first grade graduates came out to help Mrs. Picone celebrate summer and spend time with their beloved teacher. Mrs. Ducca also applauded Mrs. Picone for her and her family’s involvement in the community, sharing, “I’m honored and blessed that she’s in my building.”

Next, CPS Food Services employee Robin Herbold was honored for serving as an advocate for children and healthy eating. Food Service Director Jennifer Bujak-Hirsch called Mrs. Herbold “an excellent employee who remains calm, cool, and collected in stressful circumstances.”

Next up, Superintendent David Toth gave the floor to High School teachers Kristy Jones and Amy McMahon to share details of the Freshman Mentoring program. Both teachers shared basic information on the effort, including improved graduation rates that are attributed to such programs. They deferred to students Taylor Lowe and Cameron Crabtree, student-mentors, to explain the inner workings of Crestwood’s program in greater detail. The two students explained how the program was created to help new students quickly become acclimated to high school life. Mentors are assigned to groups of freshmen; they then hold orientation activities, team-building exercises, and generally help new students get comfortable with the facility and teachers at CHS. Throughout the year, they also share guidance about building healthy relationships, fostering better communication skills, and conflict resolution — skills the mentors learn at annual Leadership retreats.

Moving forward, Mantua Mayor Linda Clark and Village Engineer Rich Iafelice from CT Consultants came forward to share the village’s proposed easements to the village’s water lines near and around Crestwood School District’s properties. Citing infrastructure issues with the village’s water system, which is estimated to be between 80 and 90 years old, the proposed easements will be necessary when the village begins the necessary improvements to water lines, pumps, and the booster station in the coming years. According to Mr. Iafelice, the district will have at least a year to consider how the easements fit in with potential construction or renovation plans while the village undertakes the often-lengthy grant-writing process to help fund the water system updates. He anticipates that construction would take place in July 2017 at the earliest.

Regarding potential building or renovation plans, Mr. Toth shared preliminary results from the facility phone survey conducted on behalf of the district. He shared that the majority of the survey’s 273 respondents were in favor of building an new facility that would house grades seven through twelve. Mr. Toth shared that he would be following up with each board member in order to review final survey results and gather board member feedback prior to incorporating these findings into the District’s Master Plan, which is soon due to the state.

Lastly, District Treasurer Jill Rowe reviewed the district’s Five-Year Plan. She cited the district’s loss of over 600 students in the last 10 years, as well as lower property values, and median incomes as issues of concern relating to future funding. Ms. Rowe cautioned that while the district’s ‘guaranteed’ state funds were not cut for the current year, next year’s much-needed funds won’t be certain until the state budget is set in Spring of 2017.

The next regularly scheduled school board meeting will take place on Monday, November 7th at 7 pm in the high school library. As always, the community is encouraged to attend.