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March 5, 2010

 

McGraw clarifies school donation policy

Shed given to school to serve as athletics concession stand prompts review

By SCOTT CONROE
Staff Reporter
sconroe@cortlandstandard.net

McGRAW — The fact that a donated tool shed will not make a suitable concession stand for the McGraw High School baseball field has caused the Board of Education to clarify the school district’s donation policy.
The shed, donated by district residents Steve and Tina Tobias, was placed next to the baseball field last fall and will remain there until the snow melts and district staff can move it. The shed cannot be used as a concessions stand because the state Education Department must approve any structure on school grounds and the shed would need significant changes to qualify.
The board decided Thursday to make sure that anything donated to the district must meet state requirements and to approve a new version of the policy at a later meeting.
Board Vice President Barb Closson said she did not check the state policy before the board accepted the donation, and was annoyed when she found it online.
Steve Tobias said he did not have time to do much checking before he offered the shed to the district in October. He and Cheryl Kenyon, booster club president, said they were grateful to Superintendent of Schools Maria Fragnoli-Ryan and Jeff Payne, buildings and grounds director, for putting the shed next to the field while they checked into its suitability.
The shed is a Kennedy Hardwood shed measuring 10 feet by 16 feet. Payne said the entrance would have to be altered, safety lighting added, an engineering study completed and the foundation anchored to the ground.
“It’s a shame, everybody meant well,” he said.
Tobias said he will take the shed home and figure out another use for it.
Tobias, 38, is a regular attendee at board meetings and often asks questions or criticizes the board’s actions, especially in school athletics.
He argued for keeping the girls’ basketball team last fall, after the board voted to drop the team for this year. He has said he would like the school to play its soccer games on the athletic field above the school, not on the two village-owned athletic fields off Bennett Street, where they currently play.
Board members and Fragnoli-Ryan always listen politely.
Tobias said after the meeting that he donated the shed after watching Kenyon carry coolers full of food up to the field, which is on a hill next to the school, when she sold food for the booster club.
He said the shed, which is several years old, is valued at $4,500 when new.
“I understand and I was disappointed,” he said of the fact that the shed does not meet state requirements. “It would take too much to add the second entrance and make the shed fit the state policy.”
A heavy equipment operator for the state Department of Transportation, out on disability since July, Tobias said he just wants the athletics program to be the best it can be as his three children reach high school age. His oldest child, Brian, is a sophomore.
A 1989 graduate of McGraw High School, Tobias said he played basketball and soccer as a senior. He has said he will not run for the board, although he received one write-in vote last year.
The board is also reviewing its policies for releasing personal information about district employees, including e-mail addresses and home phone numbers.
Board members’ personal information is on the school district Web site.

 

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