The upcoming school year is about a month away, but there's still plenty to do in Herkimer County's newest school district.
The upcoming school year is about a month away, but there’s still plenty to do in Herkimer County’s newest school district.
“There is so much going on here,” Central Valley Central School District Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra, Jr. said. “We have contractors on top of guys moving stuff.”
Prior to the merger, the Ilion and Mohawk schools districts were in the throes of capital projects, and they’ll continue into the coming school year, Tangorra said.
“Then add the flood … so right now there is a mad dash to get the buildings in order,” he said.
The total cost of damage to the district's buildings is $980,000, with Gregory B. Jarvis Middle School — the former Mohawk high school — sustaining the most damage.
Despite the uphill battle, Tangorra assured that school will start on time, Thursday, Sept. 5.
He said while everyone knows where they’re going and what they’re supposed to do, the buildings still need to be arranged and staff moved into their rooms.
“We’re actually encouraging the faculty to stay away as much as possible until the end of August so the contractors can do what needs to be done,” he said. “They can come in and take a peek, see what’s going on, but really, there is too much that needs to be done.”
Middle school Assistant Principal Gina Ciaccia said she and Principal Melissa Hoskey have been working on the middle-level curriculum as well as building and teaching assignments.
“I’ve really been working closely with Mrs. Hoskey to develop our culture and our procedures that we follow as well as developing our code of conduct,” she said.
Ciaccia is one of several employees who not only will go through the process of a new district, but also a new position.
She was a fourth-grade teacher at Barringer Road Elementary in Ilion.
“I already know a lot of the students and faculty members,” Ciaccia said of the benefits from her former position. “It’s an advantage when we’re trying to bring a positive, new environment for our middle school students.”
Frances LaPaglia, who was the principal at Barringer Road, also will shift into a new position as director of human resources for the district.
“(Tangorra) asked me to do that because of my interpersonal skills and my ability to connect with people as well as my knowledge of the teachers,” she said. “It’s a time of great change, and that’s a perfect segue for me to ease into something as we make changes throughout the district.”
Tangorra said that throughout the merger process — a conversation that began several years ago — he’s had talks with staff members to see if they would be interested in a new position once the merger went through.
Page 2 of 2 - “One of my leadership responsibilities is to tap that potential right within the school district,” he said.
Cindy Stocker, who was the Mohawk high school principal now is the assistant superintendent. Richard Keeler, who was an Ilion High School math teacher, now is the assistant Central Valley high school principal.
“I think being in the classroom allows you to see the ins and outs of education and helps you prepare for an administrator position,” Keeler said.
Calls to Stocker were not immediately returned.
For all who are stepping into new roles as well as new schools, there is the buzz of excitement.
“I graduated in Mohawk and my teaching career was in Ilion,” Keeler said. “It’s kind of a good feeling to bring the two communities together that I'm most familiar with.”