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Superintendent's Message
Massena Central School Board of Education Update
January 8, 2016

The Board of Education Meeting scheduled for January 14, 2016 will begin at 6:30 pm in Room 314 of Massena High School.  It is anticipated that the Board will go into executive session at 6:30 pm to discuss such topics as personnel on the agenda prior to the regular meeting.
There will be a BOE Finance Committee meeting at 5:30 pm in the HS Student Affairs Conference Room.
FLL Robotics Presentation - “No Styrofoam, Please”
The First Lego League Team at Madison and Jefferson Elementary Schools will be presenting their science project to the Board of Education on Thursday.  The project, which was presented at the Clarkson University competition on December 13th , focuses on reducing the use of styrofoam in the district.  In preparation, the team met with Facilities Director Bill Seguin, Food Service Director Peter Bertrand, and Larry Legault, Recycling Coordinator/Operations Manager SLC Solid Waste Department, among others.  They researched alternatives to using styrofoam trays in the cafeterias in order to reduce costs and safeguard the environment.  The team is coached by teachers Darcie Fregoe and Bill Lint.  A copy of their PowerPoint presentation is attached to the Board agenda.

Strategic Planning/Consolidation Study
One of the goals discussed during the superintendent hiring process was the development of a strategic planning process to engage the community and collaborate with school stakeholders to develop goals for the future of the District.  Such an effort would involve public forums to identify the challenges and opportunities available to improve student achievement and school programming.  At the same time, the Board has requested that the administration move forward in analyzing the school consolidation study developed by the Rural Schools Association during the 2014-15 school year.  This study provided options for the potential combination of grade levels and school closure in an effort to maximize efficiency and reduce costs.  Mindful of these goals, I would like to discuss with the Board the idea of engaging an outside consultant to assist the District in a planning process which would include both of these initiatives.
Recently, I spoke to a couple of firms which have been recommended as having the expertise to lead these efforts.  I have a meeting this week with one that has worked with other local school districts on strategic planning.   Funding for this work would be provided through the grant that the District received from Assemblywomen Addie Russell this school year.  I will provide further information at the BOE meeting on Thursday.
Annual Professional Performance Review Update
In December, the Governor’s Common Core Commission presented a report which will have a significant impact on teacher/principal evaluations (APPR).  This includes the prohibition of using state test scores in the evaluations for a three year period.  However, there are still several unknowns which has placed the negotiations of new evaluation plans under Education Law 3012-d on hold throughout the state.  There is some anticipation that more details will be forthcoming when the Governor presents his State of the State Address on Wednesday, January 13th.  We are also awaiting regulations from the SED.
Here is what has been presented thus far and what remains to be seen:
  • Until a new system of evaluation is phased in, student test scores will be used only in an advisory capacity. Student test scores from the Grade 3-8 ELA and Math tests (which are still required under the new federal law, but which the state may now have greater discretion in designing) will not be used to evaluate educators. A new system of teacher evaluation is expected to be in place by the 2019-2020 school years, allowing three years for the state to perfect a more workable approach. 
  • During the transition period, transition scores and HEDI ratings will replace the scores and HEDI ratings for teachers and principals whose HEDI scores are based, in whole or in part, on State assessments in grades 3-8 ELA or mathematics (including where State-provided growth scores are used) or on State-provided growth scores on Regents examinations. 
  • Transition scores and ratings will be determined based upon the remaining subcomponents of the annual professional performance review that are not based on the grade 3-8 ELA or mathematics State assessments and/or a State-provided growth score on Regents examinations. 
  • Back-up Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) shall be developed by the district/BOCES consistent with guidelines prescribed by the Commissioner using assessments approved by the Department that are not State assessments. 
  • State provided growth scores will continue to be computed for advisory purposes. 
Outstanding Questions
  •  How do we make back-up SLOs in the middle of the school year that are in alignment with the Common Core-based prohibition? 
  • Can we use the observation component (§3012-d) or multiple measures components (§3012-c), alone, for the summative score? 
  • Will the legislature take any action in regard to the independent observer requirement under §3012-d which is a capacity concern for many schools? 
Board of Education Goals Update

At the Board of Education meeting on Thursday, I will be reporting on our progress in meeting BOE goals at this point in the school year.  Attached to the BOE agenda is a progress report with notes about the goals shown in various colors.  Consistent progress has been made in such areas as improving Academic Intervention Services, expanding use of instructional technology, enhancing communication within district operations and community, and increased collaboration with the Tribal Council, to name a few.  Other goals such as engaging in strategic planning and improving budget development are on-going.

Affordable Care Act Resolution
The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was passed into law in March, 2010.  The law has numerous provisions to provide health care to all Americans of which some are phased in over time.  Currently, the District is being required to consider how it covers employees such as substitute teachers if they are considered full-time based on the law.  Under the ACA, employers such as the Massena Central School District that have over 50 FTE (full-time equivalent) employees are required to "affordable" health insurance to employees that are considered full-time. Such employees are defined as working 30 hours/week for 120 days on average during the year. Affordable means that the cost of the health insurance has to be less than 9.5% of the employee's household w-2 wages. 
At the BOE Policy Committee meeting on 12/18, Business Manager Nick Brouillette discussed how this requirement will impact the District and the need to establish a “look back period” to measure the work time for employees who may be eligible for insurance.  Below are the relevant minutes of that meeting as provided by BOE member Lorie MacKenzie.  I have attached the “look back period” resolution to the BOE agenda along with other back-up information.
  • District Treasurer Nick Brouillette discussed implications of the ACA and proposed a resolution intended for the Board, in order to determine who may be eligible for healthcare coverage under this Act (affected employee base includes primarily substitutes, particularly long-term subs & also some coaches).
  • Nick suggests that it would be wise to have our health insurance consortium (Locey & Cahill) look into our current employee base, so that they can identify those who currently don’t have insurance, review potential eligibility & set up the plan parameters. Doing so will cost the district $5K, which is an aidable expense.  He also noted that fines will be increasing for employees without coverage.  At the crux of this act is the fact that ACA is defining FTEs differently than in the past – they are designating full time as those working 30 hours/week instead of the current 40. 
  • Nick defined 2 main hurdles:  1.) Moving forward, districts must offer insurance to 95% of their FT employees – the fine for failing to do so would be derived from a formula [$2000minus the total #FTEs minus 30], so it’s critical for districts to meet the 95% mandate;  and 2) districts must make health insurance affordable (costing less than 9.5% of employee’s household income) – the $3K fine for not meeting this requirement is more affordable for the district than providing the necessary coverage. However, in order for a district to be sanctioned with the fine, there are 3 steps those affected employees would have to take on their own.
  • The proposed resolution would establish a look-back period, wherein the stability period and measurement periods match – one year is the recommended span.  For the 95% rule, guidelines follow the fiscal year … we would have to offer healthcare to any eligible employees after one year.  After one year, districts have 3 months to analyze staff and see who worked over the limit for the past year and then offer them coverage for the next year (unless they accept FT employment elsewhere in the interim).  In Massena, we would thus be looking on July 1 to see which employees met the time requirement and then to discern whether they were still working for the district. The question is: What exactly to offer them?  Choices include offering the current employee health package as is; offering the current package at 100% employee contribution; or having our Health Insurance Consortium establish a high deductible plan that’s more affordable (but even this option would still cost district more than the $3K fine).
  • In addition, Nick detailed new IRS requirements based on the calendar year, which will necessitate a multitude of forms to be filled out –Locey & Cahill can help us w/ that task as well … there is a need to gather much data from employees, including SS numbers, a task which involves great deal of time. Most of these forms must be out by Jan 31st, although some deadlines will be extended to March.
  • Proposed Resolution regarding ACA: Resolution details that MCS will abide by ACA, will set up a standard measurement period and will set up initial periods for administration, stability & measurement.  Committee will take to BOE for consideration. 

Donation from Lowes to Jr. High - Refrigerator
The District has received a donation of a refrigerator from Lowes.  The refrigerator will be used by Anne Root and her Family & Consumer Science program.  At the BOE meeting, we ask that the Board accept this generous donation.
Food Service Equipment Grant
Congratulations to Food Service Director Peter Bertrand for his successful grant application to purchase cafeteria equipment under the National School Lunch Program.  Massena was awarded $10,457 to procure three reach-in refrigerators for JW Leary Junior High School, Madison Elementary School, and Nightengale Elementary School.
The New York State Education Department (SED) received 318 applications for equipment requests which totaled approximately $3 million. The SED was able to fund a total of 148 equipment grant awards to 105 Recipient Agencies (RA) in 59 School Food Authorities (SFA), totaling $1,401,856.  Massena was one of three schools in our region to receive funding.
Other News
Snowmen Building Event
During the “Lake St. Lawrence Winter Chill” week in February, organizers would like to engage in a snowman building contest at the high school.  The goal is to break the world record by building over 2,036 snowmen in one hour.  The event will be held on the JV soccer field and is being organized by Nightengale Elementary Teacher Bill Lint.  Below is a Courier Observer article about the event.
Michael Nerney Presentation on the Adolescent Brain
The Massena Drug Free Coalition hosted Dr. Michael Nerney on January 6th at the Massena Community Center to discuss the brain development of teenagers and how we can use this information to support them.  Approximately 50 people attended the presentation including BOE member Paul Haggett and several of our staff.  Dr. Nerney also spoke to our Junior High staff in the afternoon.  Below is a link to an article about the event.  I have also included a video from a former presentation by Dr. Nerney for those who were not able to attend.
American Federation of Teachers Highlight Massena
During the “People Over Profits” rally last month, the AFT sent a reporter from Washington DC to create a video which highlighted the concerns facing the community and how the people, including the Massena Federation of Teachers and Steelworkers Local 420, have come together to rebuild opportunity.  MFT President Erin Covell and many of our teachers are prominently presented in the video which can be accessed below.

Rural Schools Association Newsletter

Below is a link to the January newsletter of the Rural Schools Association.


Massena High School
News & Notes

The officers of Massena High School National Honor Society are pictured above at the completion of step one of a community service project they have been working on this year. The theme of the project is Recycling Awareness. The students worked in conjunction with Mayor Tim Currier to create posters, from a community recycling brochure, that will hang in various community buildings in the Village of Massena. The students raised money for the posters through a fall bottle drive. Three large recycling posters, as shown above, were printed by UPS in Hogansburg, NY. The next step for this project is the creation of a power point aligned with the community recycling brochure, which students can use to for presentations to various community groups. Pictured from left to right are: Mayor Tim Currier, Sierra Lanning, Co Vice President, Abby LaClair, Treasurer, Raechel Davis, Secretary, Sean Casey, President, Corine Francis, Co Vice President, missing Robert Todd, Comptroller. Advisor for NHS is Mrs. Karen Cook.

One of the many projects Student Council oversees is the care of the fish tank in the lobby of the high school. This year the fish tank has been plagued several times with an overgrowth of algae. Sean Casey, Student Council President, has worked tirelessly, along with the Nature Center, to bring the flora in the tank back to a normal level. The tank has been drained and bleached 3 times since July, along with the rocks, filters and plastic plants being washed and bleached. All three treatments have failed. During Christmas break, Student Council took extreme measures. The tank was once again drained, scrubbed and bleached. New rocks were purchase and the plants were discarded. As you can see from the picture, 100 gallons of spring water were put back into the fish tank. A cover was applied to the back and right side of the tank to decrease the exposure from the sun and the glass lid was placed on top of the tank. Cammy Peets and Jarret Harvey are pictured above after placing the fish back into the tank. Keep your fingers crossed! This is a huge and expensive undertaking, which the students are dedicated to. Advisor Maggie Trombley was on hand to direct the students in this project.
Upcoming Events:
Jan 26 & 27 – Regents – school is in session for all students
Jan 28 & 29 – Regents – school is in session for students taking a regents or final
Jan 29 – High School Tech Workshops
Feb 4 – Winter Pep Rally
Feb 5 & 6 – SLCMEA All County Concert at OFA
Feb 6 – Winter Ball

JW Leary Junior High
News & Notes
  1. Grade 8 ELA teacher April Charleson has published a book entitled Rain Falling on Sunshine. She will be giving a reading at the Massena Public Library on Saturday January 9, 2016. The book is available from Amazon.com 
  2. Jake Witkop made a presentation to team one on December 21, 2015. Mr. Witkop is the owner and editor of Mushing magazine, dedicated to the sport of dog sled racing. He has also been involved in dog sled racing and currently lives in Alaska. This is part of an anticipatory set for teacher Julie Pratti’s ELA classes as they will soon be reading the novel Winterdance. 
  3. Michael Nerney gave a special presentation to the faculty at J.W. Leary about the function and development of the teenage brain. The information was useful for better understanding teenage behavior, such as the need to let students calm down before trying to reason with them. Mr. Nerney later presented to the community in the evening.  
  4. J.W. Leary art teacher Nicole Charleson recently had several of her pictures published in Strong magazine, a national publication. Mrs. Charleson photographed a fitness camp in which she participated in. She is also busy preparing a grade 8 Art class to offer additional learning opportunities in art (currently only grade 7 receives art classes). 
Arts in education Assembly January 20, 2016                                  
Early release/staff development days January 28, 29, 2016
Valentines Dance February 5, 2015
Jefferson Elementary School
News & Notes

Technology Training

As part of a District Technology Team initiative, on January 28 or 29, all classroom teachers will have an opportunity to explore a piece of instructional technology to adopt into their classrooms. This staff development occurs on one afternoon of the planned early release days.  As the students are dismissed, teachers will select a program, app., or an initiative that they would like to investigate further.
Possible options include Class Dojo, eDoctrina, Google Drive, Great websites for Elementary, Educational apps for iPad, SmartBoard, Symbaloo, Smartnotebook, Screencasting, SeeSaw.
The goal of this initiative is for the classroom teachers to leave the presentation with all of the "tools" necessary to immediately utilize the new knowledge in their classrooms.
The majority of technology instructors on this day are classroom teachers that are also members of the District Technology Team.
Instructional Rounds at Jefferson: Update

The Instructional Rounds preparation continues as Andrew Rudd, Regional Rounds Facilitator, presented the Rounds process to Jefferson's teachers. Five teachers have now received formal training and are qualified to participate in the Rounds process at other schools while six more will be trained on January 22. Jefferson is now prepared to host a rounds on February 11.
            Instructional Rounds:
  • Assume that most educators are working, for better or worse, at, or very near, the limit of their existing knowledge and skill.
  • Are based on the Instructional Rounds model and begin with a problem of practice connected to the improvement of student achievement.
  • Are intended as a vehicle for improving our strategies and making us more reflective about our work.
What it is NOT...
What it is...
A program A practice designed to support an existing improvement strategy at the school or system level
An event A practice that is iterative and woven into existing improvement processes
An evaluation tool No assessment of individual teachers or schools seperate the person from the practice; focus on the practice
Learn about effective learning and teaching
An implementation
Rounds focuses on patterns of practice, predicted results, not compliance with directives
Training for 
Rounds focuses on collective learning, rather than individual supervisory practice
Passive A community of practice where we expect to push each other and learn from each other

Overview of the Rounds Visit
  • Preparatory work with host school & network
    • Logistics
    • Engagement of staff and school community
    • Instructional Focus development
  • Visit
    • Problem of Practice
    • Observation of Practice
    • Observation Debrief (Describe, analyze, predict)
    • Next Level of Work
  • Post visit follow-up with host & network
    • Sharing data
    • Following up (at host school and network)
The students and staff  have recently begun a new running program here at Jefferson Elementary.  It is called the Mighty Milers.  We will run/walk during our classes and log miles as the year goes on.  It is a program to promote health and wellness.  This will be part of the classes for grades 3 – 6 this year.  I will be logging in their laps and as we progress during the school year, the students/staff will have incentives they can achieve as they accumulate miles.  Some of the incentives are: membership cards, wrist band key holders, t-shirts, medals, water bottles, dog tags and headbands.  As a school, we also have incentives which we will be trying to attain hoping to become a school of distinction.  This is not only for the students, but many staff members have joined us as well.  I am looking forward to running with the students and getting in shape myself.  We are all looking to be successful while setting goals and trying to attain them.  Good luck to all the participants and let’s get RUNNING.
Mr. Henrie  Physical Education
Long Distant Relationship
Students in Mrs. Russell's Second Grade classroom will soon be carrying on a long-distance computer relationship with pen pals from Potsdam. The art of writing has been lost This is a great way to practice writing skills and understand that these abilities are necessary to communicate and be successful in all areas. Through the use of technology, Mrs. Russell's students will be exchanging writing pieces and sharing experiences. The goal is to have a culminating experience that allows the students to meet face-to-face at the end of the school year.
This initiative will allow for collaboration between two Jefferson Elementary teachers and two teachers from Potsdam.
Madison Elementary School
News & Notes

Happy New Year from Madison!!!

We have successfully made it back into our routine this week and are excited to be working with your children in this New Year.  The next three months are some of the most important months of the school year and your continued support is vital to the success of students.  Please make sure that students are staying on top of their homework and that you are staying connected with us here at school if you have any questions or concerns about anything.   Look for your children to be accomplishing great things in this second half of the school year.

3rd Grade Students from Madison Perform at St. Regis Nursing Home

The entire 3rd grade at Madison spread holiday cheer this season when they visited St. Regis Nursing Home.  The students sang holiday tunes and read poems for the residents.  At the conclusion of the program the students gave handmade cards to the residents to help them celebrate the season.  Thank you to Mrs. McCallus, Mrs. Rufa and Mrs. Grewell for organizing this event. 

Madison 5/6 Chorus Holiday Performance

The Madison Elementary fifth and sixth grade chorus performed The Twelve Days of Christmas for students, staff and families on December 17th.  Our school was treated to a wonderful show which celebrated that Holiday season.  The students performed brilliantly and there was even a special visit by Santa and one of his elves.  Happy New Year from our family at Madison to yours!!!
Important Upcoming Dates @ Madison
1/14/16 UCP (United Cerebral Palsy)
Puppet Show (grades k and 3)
No school - Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr. Day
Internet Safety Presentation
1:30pm (Grade 6)
Professional Development Day
11:15am Dismissal
Professional Development Day
11:15am Dismissal

Nightengale Elementary School
News & Notes


Our second DATA meeting is approaching within the next few weeks. Our interventionist are gearing up for our MOY(middle of year) Dibel screening. All students in grades K-4 and then a handful in grades 5/6 will be tested on reading skills. We have also begun using STAR reading for grades 3-6. STAR will allow us to have another critical piece of reading data needed to drive our intervention model. All of our data in all three buildings have all been placed on one spreadsheet that is shared with all interventionist and building principals.


We currently have over 120 students registered for Latch Key. Tracey Adams has been working diligently on sending out parent statements through both mail and email. It is a valuable service that we provide to parents and guardians.


Carolyn Frazier retired at the end of December. She was currently teaching 6th grade science and social studies. She had been a teacher in our district for almost twenty years. She will be missed by students and staff. We are planning a retirement celebration for her at the end of January.  We will be having interviews tomorrow, 1/11/16, for her position.
Capital Project

Nightengale has formed a committee to come up with a "wish list" for the physical layout of our building. We meet with the architect on Wednesday, 1/13/16,  to discuss the top needs of our building for our students and staff.

  • I will be attending Instructional Rounds at Colton Pierrepont in 1/12/16.
  • We have begun the preparing for the NYS test season. We have reviewed the scoring schedule with Mrs. Fiske.
  • We had a faculty meeting on 1/6/16.
  • Our BLT(building level team) meets on 1/14/16 

Upcoming Events
1/11—Facilities Committee Meeting—4:30 pm—JW Leary Junior High
1/14—Finance Committee Meeting—5:30 pm—HS Student Affairs Room; BOE Meeting—6:30 pm—HS Room 314
1/18—Martin Luther King Day—No School
Last Updated: 1/26/16
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