Stephen Hoyt: Didn't mean to be confrontational with merger opponents

ARKPORT — Arkport School Board President Stephen Hoyt apologized to an Arkport couple last week after they said that Hoyt “confronted” them about a political sign on their front yard.

Edward and Catherine Karns said Hoyt walked “onto our porch” and complained about their sign “Vote NO School Merger.” Karns said he told the board president “The idea of a merger between (sic) the three school districts was a terrible idea and that Canaseraga especially got the short end of the stick having to bus all their high school students to Alfred-Almond.”

Hoyt “sternly said ’What about the (academic) programs your kids will be missing out on?” the couple said. Karns said he responded “I don’t care about that particular issue.”

According to Karns, Hoyt responded “very sternly, 'What: you don’t care about kids?'” Karns said “I proceeded to tell him my main concern (about the merger) was that I want our kids to go to Arkport only.”

When Hoyt asked if the couple had “ever gone to one of our forums” about the proposed merger, Karns said “No, I did not need to attend a forum to know which way I was voting.”

Hoyt said to the couple at the board meeting “I’m sorry, it wasn’t meant to be a confrontation. I hope we can move forward and communicate in a more effective manner” in the future.

For the record, residents of the three districts voted against the proposed union. Arkport residents voted 308-210 against the measure.

In another issue, board members agreed with Superintendent Dr. Glenn P. Niles that Arkport Central should “reserve an amount that exceeds four percent” of undesignated reserve funds in violation of the New York State Comptroller’s suggested limit. Niles said he is “unsure of the amount of state education aid next school year” and wants to assure sufficient funds for school operations.

The penalty: “We’ll get a letter from the comptroller,” he said.

The school board also approved an amendment to the code of conduct involving off-campus students. Pupils attending “approved academic programs must follow the Arkport Central Student Code of Conduct” when at those off-campus institutions, they agreed.

Niles also announced a $23,840 Rural school Grant “to run the (2015) summer reading program.” The aid helped pay for teachers, student transportation and classroom materials, the superintendent said.

The State Department of Transportation “will initiate a traffic study probably within the next two months” to examine the speed of cars on Route 36 within Arkport Village at the request of resident Robert Tripp, Niles said. Tripp told Village Mayor Charles Flanders he is concerned that cars are speeding in an area too close to Arkport Central, the superintendent told board members.

Flanders said he and a New York State trooper watched traffic “and didn’t feel they were speeding,” Niles said.

The school board also approved participation in the Wayne-Finger Lakes Board of Cooperative Educational Services wholesale “cooperative electricity bid.” Before their meeting, board members held a small reception for five new Arkport Central faculty. They are Jackie Eason, fifth grade teacher; Christine Ferris, district librarian; Beth Townsend, grades four-six special education; Carissa Van Gelder, fourth grade, and Elizabeth Van Houter, K-through-four and seventh-and-eighth-grade art.