Security, students focus of GESD board

GLOVERSVILLE — The Gloversville Enlarged School District is looking to make improvements to building security and the use of information technology through the creation of two new positions.

The GESD Board of Education on Monday approved the creation of the position of director of information technology and appointed William Cooper to the permanent post at an annual rate of $96,000.

GESD Superintendent David Halloran explained that the newly created position will enable the district to follow student performance more closely in order to provide feedback to teachers in realtime to address the learning needs of individuals.

“[Cooper] is going to help us recognize where our students are performing,” Halloran said. “Our students need to know where they’re performing, our teachers need to be constantly assessing our students on a day to day, weekly, bi-weekly basis. We don’t wait for large tests at the end of semesters to determine students’ learning, we need to use the technology available to us to inform ourselves on a realtime basis, that’s how we change the projection of these outcomes.”

Halloran expressed his confidence in Cooper’s skills, noting he has worked with Cooper for over a decade while at both the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District and Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville Central School District.

“Gloversville will improve in the use of technology to inform, diversify and enhance our instruction with his skills,” Halloran said. “I’m very thrilled to be working with Bill once again.”

Cooper’s responsibilities will also include overseeing the district’s technology infrastructure and Halloran said in past positions Cooper has organized technology clubs for students involving the use of creative technology such as 3-D printers, drones and laser engravers and repair projects on items like Chromebooks.

“He’s really good at bringing education technology to bear, he’s not an educator by training, his background begins with being a network systems coordinator and making sure that all the technology worked, but he’s really evolved into much more than that,” Halloran said.

Cooper who was present on Monday thanked the board and Halloran following his appointment.

“Thank you for the opportunity and I look forward to bringing my experience and helping out,” Cooper said.

Halloran provided the board with an update on another newly created position on Monday, saying that school safety officer Michael Etherton has been conducting building walkthroughs since his position was created in December and has made a number of recommendations to improve district security.

“I think Mike’s work is self evident, he’s finding areas for improvement,” Halloran said. “His presence on our staff is going to make us a safer, more aware school community.”

The Board of Education approved the creation of the school safety officer position and appointed Etherton to fill the part-time position at a rate of $30 per hour during the Dec. 10 meeting.

The board included $190,000 in the 2018-19 school budget to fund the addition of three resource officers to serve the school district this fall. Only one position was filled at the start of the school year by Ronald Rue, an active duty officer with the Gloversville Police Department reassigned to the district for the school year as part of an agreement the district reached with the city and police.

The district planned to hire two outside individuals as district staff members to fill the remaining positions, but were delayed by the fact that the Fulton County Department of Civil Service did not offer an exam for school safety officers and did not therefore have a list of candidates available from which the district could hire someone to fill the posts.

The district developed a job description and list of qualifications for the position that was approved by the Department of Civil Service, ultimately hiring Etherton who was with the state police for 25 years before his recent retirement.

Etherton’s focus initially will be on developing an emergency response plan for each school building in the district, before his role become more similar to the school resource officer’s. Etherton has 20 years of tactical experience and during the last 10 years of his law enforcement career served as the supervisor of the Special Operations Response Team for the state police.

Halloran said on Monday that Etherton has already identified multiple areas for improvement in district protocol when responding to emergency situations that will be shared with district staff.

“He’s going to be presenting to staff at some point on new protocols, which I won’t get into for safety reasons, on the district’s response to worst case scenarios, lockdowns and things like that, Contingency plans for removal of students from campuses, these are things that are not public knowledge for good reason, but we are going to get better,” Halloran said. “I’m happy with the work he’s done so far and look forward to continue working with him.”