Cambridge board OKs removal of Indian mascot emblem from gym floor

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CAMBRIDGE — Refinishing the high school gym floor to comply with the state education commissioner’s order to remove the Indian emblem from the school qualifies as an emergency, according to a resolution the school board approved Thursday at its regular monthly meeting.

School board President Shay Price said the resolution was recommended by the board’s legal counsel, even though the board is appealing state Education Commissioner Betty Rosa’s order.

“This is something we’re mandated to do,” but the district isn’t required to take action until the school receives an answer on its appeal, Price said. That could take six to eight months.

The floor is otherwise in excellent condition and would not need maintenance for some time. The estimated cost to remove the emblem and refinish the floor is $62,000, an expense the district didn’t foresee and hasn’t budgeted. By labeling the situation an emergency, the school might qualify for state building aid, Shay said.

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School Superintendent Douglas Silvernell was authorized to prepare bid specifications and proceed with the project on a schedule that would allow student use and keep students and staff safe. Given the time necessary to strip and prepare the floor, apply a new coating, and allow it to cure, the project would have to be done during the summer when the gym isn’t being used, Silvernell said.

  • The Class of 2022 had a 92.3% graduation rate, junior-senior high school Associate Principal Ralph Harrington reported. Of the 65 students who started the year, all but five received diplomas. Two received commencement credits and three did not finish. “We want 97 to 98% to graduate,” Harrington said. Contrary to national news on COVID-related learning gaps, Cambridge students generally did very well on the latest round of Regents, Advanced Placement, and Common Core tests, Harrington said. They frequently scored above state and national averages. “We are moving back to normal,” he said. Board member Neil Gifford asked why some students are taking Early College and Career Academy classes instead of Advanced Placement classes. High school Principal Caroline Goss said not all colleges give credit for AP classes, whereas ECCA classes, which are offered through a college or university, will be accepted. Also, ECCA is a remote program, and some students discovered during the COVID shutdown that they do better working independently than in a classroom, she said.
  • The board approved girls wrestling as an interscholastic sport for the 2022-2023 state high school winter sports season. Girls have been training and competing with boys for several years but will now have their own tournaments and events, Silvernell said.
  • The air rifle program will meet in the old Cambridge firehouse, which was vacated last month when the Cambridge Fire Department moved to a new building. Silvernell said the Village Board approved the use at its meeting Wednesday and is only asking the school to pay for utilities.
  • Dale Christopher, a retired teacher who has been substituting at Cambridge Central School, praised what he’s seen at the school. “It’s important that everyone realizes how well the staff and students perform,” he said during the public comment period. “Overall, the school is just outstanding.”