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Superintendent's Message
Massena Central School Board of Education Update
February 19, 2016
The Board of Education Meeting scheduled for February 25, 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.
A Budget Hearing will be held at 7:00 pm prior to the regular meeting.
Public Forum on the 2016-17 School Budget
At the public forum on Thursday for the 2016-17 school budget, I will present the status of the budget process and open the floor to the community for input and questions.  A copy of the PowerPoint presentation will be sent to the Board prior to the meeting and attached to the agenda.
Introduction of Elementary Teacher
Newly appointed Nightengale Elementary teacher Maureen Frary will attend the BOE meeting on Thursday to be officially introduced to the Board.  Ms. Frary replaced Carolyn Frazier who retired mid-year from this sixth grade position.  Ms. Frary holds a B.P.S. from Cazenovia College and a M.S. from SUNY Potsdam in Elementary Education 1-6.   She is originally a native from Massena but for eight years lived in San Francisco and Manhattan before returning to the area. Ms. Frary had been a long term substitute at Nightengale for the past year before earning this permanent position.
High School Senior Trip
The high school senior class is planning a trip to New York City in early June.  The cost is $656 per student with 29 students and 4 chaperones planning to attend at this time. The students were given the opportunity to fundraise (magazine sale) to reduce the cost of the trip.  An itinerary and other pertinent information will be attached to the Board agenda.  Erin Covell will attend the BOE meeting on Thursday to discuss the trip.
Strategic Planning Project
At the last BOE meeting we discussed a strategic planning project which would seek 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.  It would also consider the Rural Schools Association consolidation plan developed during the 2014-15 school year. 
After considering three different firms who engage school districts in strategic planning, I am prepared to present a recommendation to the BOE on Thursday night.  I have placed the proposal in the executive session folder for your review.  Funding for this work would be provided through the grant that the District received from Assemblywomen Addie Russell this school year.  The agreement is on the agenda for BOE action as we would like to begin work this spring.
Creating Healthy Schools and Communities Grant
The Massena CSD has received grant funding through a program entitled, Creating Healthy Schools and Communities which is sponsored by the St. Lawrence County Health Initiative (SLCHI).  It is a five year grant, funded by the New York State Department of Health, which will provide $2,500 per year to each building beginning this year and running through 2020.  Other schools included in the grant are Clifton-Fine, Gouverneur, Norwood-Norfolk, and Ogdensburg Free Academy.
The purpose of this project is to address access to healthy, affordable foods and opportunities for physical activity in selected high-needs school districts and the communities where the students and their families live.  Specifically, its approach is to:
  1. Revise, implement and assess local wellness policies to improve the school nutrition and/or physical activity environment.
  2. Establish Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programs (CSPAP).
  3. Increase access to healthy, affordable foods and increase school districts’ ability to meet federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 nutrition standards for foods sold outside of school meals. 
We are in the process of reorganizing the District Wellness Committee which will lead the effort to set goals and implement the grant funding.  Support funds may be used for stipends/substitute reimbursement for teacher training; sustainable supplies and equipment; and resources to support CHSC school-focused strategies.
I will discuss further at the Board meeting on Thursday.  Attached to the BOE agenda is an overview of the project.
Adirondack Energy Donation to Jefferson Elementary - $500
The Adirondack Energy Corporation would like to once again donate $500 to the Jefferson Elementary School.  The money will be used to fund materials for math and science projects at the school.  We appreciate this generous donation made possible by the local Mountain Mart and Adirondack Energy.  At the Board meeting, Principal Richards will discuss the donation and how it will specifically be used.

Nomination of Roger Bennett - SLL BOCES Board
Massena resident and former Massena CSD Board of Education member Roger Bennett is seeking reelection to the St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES Board of Education.  Roger has been a member of the BOCES Board since 1995 and is currently serving as its president.  Education Law 1950 requires that a component district Board of Education nominate candidates for the BOCES Board.  As in previous years, Roger is requesting that the Massena BOE nominate him to another three year term for the election to be held on April 18th. A copy of the nomination form, which includes a brief biographical sketch, is attached to the Board agenda and is also on as an action item.
MOA with County - Budget Vote Support
Last year, the District entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the St. Lawrence County Board of Elections to provide two digital voting machines and related equipment.  This service was commenced due to a change in state law which forbade the further use of lever voting machines.  As this is an annual agreement, I have included it on the Board agenda for consideration.  The cost of using the County service and purchasing related supplies, such as ballots, is approximately $1,000 above our previous budget when we used the lever machines.  This is a good deal especially when considering the cost for one machine is approximately $12,500 excluding software.
Here is an article in North Country Now about local schools borrowing voting machines from the County.
Resolution - Abolish Cook Position
With the termination of a cook in Food Service, I am recommending that the BOE abolish the 5.25 hour position and replace with a 2.5 hour food service helper.  The savings is $7,148 in salary.
Facilities Committee Report
Attached is the Facilities Committee meeting minutes for January 11th when we toured the Junior High.  The next meeting is scheduled for March 14th at 4:30 pm when we will tour Jefferson Elementary School.
Other News
Snowman Event Creates Community Spirit, No Record
Mother Nature was not kind to the 450 people who showed up to break the Guinness record for building snowmen on Friday but the many smiles by those in attendance would indicate the event was worthwhile.  The snow did not have the moisture necessary for creating snowmen so attendees were left to considerable improvisation, none of which met the requirements of a three foot snowman with a body comprising three spheres.  The event was part of the St. Lawrence Winter Chill week and organized by Nightengale Elementary teacher Bill Lint.  I want to thank Bill and all of our staff who took part in the event.  Below is an article from the Courier Observer and a few pictures of some best efforts.


State Education Department Update
The following is latest information from the NYS Board of Regents:
Expanding Graduation Pathways for All Students
At its January 2016 meeting, the Board of Regents discussed broadening the pathways to a high school diploma by:
  1. Expanding the existing eligible score band for an appeal on a Regents exam by two additional points;
  2. Allowing a Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Commencement Credential to be used in lieu of one of the required Regents examinations; and
  3. Creating a project-based assessment program for students who pass the coursework required for a regular diploma but who are unable to pass an associated required Regents examination.
Going forward, with Board of Regents support, the Department will continue to develop mechanisms that provide students with more, better, and different ways to demonstrate that they have met the high standards for high school graduation. These mechanisms will be designed to support closing the achievement gap and increasing the graduation rate.
http://www.regents.nysed.gov/common/regents/files/116brd1.pdfThe January 2016 Regents Item “Expanding Graduation Pathways for All Students” can be found at: http://www.regents.nysed.gov/common/regents/files/116brd1.pdf.
The supplemental presentation entitled “Expanding Graduation Pathways for All Students” can be found at: http://www.regents.nysed.gov/common/regents/files/Full%20Board%20-%20Monday.pdf.
Provision of Educational Programs to Incarcerated and Detained Youth
At its January 2016 meeting, the Board of Regents discussed and reviewed the policy for educational programs for youth who have committed offenses that warrant removal from the community.

Based on the discussion and with the agreement of the Board of Regents, staff will engage with stakeholders for the purpose of developing recommendations regarding changes to Commissioner’s Regulations for incarcerated and detained youth. Such changes may include but are not limited to provisions of regulations pertaining to instructional time for students, professional development for staff, the development of educational plans by programs, enrichment activities and Career and Technical Education Programs offered to students for consideration by the Board of Regents later in 2016.
The January 2016 Regents Item regarding the provision of educational programs to incarcerated and detained youth can be found at:http://www.regents.nysed.gov/common/regents/files/116p12d2-revised.pdf.
The supplemental presentation entitled “Educational Programs to Incarcerated and Detained Youth,” can be found at: http://www.regents.nysed.gov/common/regents/files/P 12%20Incarcerated%20Youth.pdf.

Accountability Status for 2015-16 and 2016-17

On Tuesday, January 26, 2016 the Office of Accountability (OA) notified districts of the preliminary accountability status of schools or charter schools for the 2015-16 and 2016- 17 school years.

As part of the notification process, the OA conducted a webinar entitled “The Focus Districts Identification, Requirements and Interventions.” The Power Point presentation from the webinar can be found at: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/accountability/PPTFocusDistrictWebinar020116.pptx and the recording (beginning at slide four) can be found at: https://meetny.webex.com/meetny/lsr.php?RCID=e24e4a33d38749b68581b3396e07ea53.

In addition, the OA posted an FAQ regarding 2016 - 17 Accountability Designations based on questions from the field. The FAQ can be found at:http://p12.nysed.gov/accountability/FAQAccountabilityDeterminations2016.html.

The New York State Education Department (NYSED or “the Department”) plans to make public the lists of Focus Districts, Focus Schools, and Priority Schools in approximately three weeks.

All questions regarding the preliminary accountability status of schools or charter schools for the 2015-16 and 2016 - 17 school years should be directed to:accountinfo@nysed.gov.

Release of the January 2017 and June 2017 Regents Exam Calendars

The Regents Exam calendars for January 2017 and June 2017 have been released. Additionally, the June 2016 Regents Exam calendar has been updated to include the final date and time of the second and final special administration of the Integrated Algebra Regents Exam.  Eligibility for this special administration remains the same as for the February special administration. 

Additional information about this special administration, including ordering information, will be provided by the Department at a later date. 

The new January and June 2017 Regents Exam calendars, as well as the revised June 2016 calendar, are posted at the following link: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/assessment/schedules/schedule-hs.html.
Transition from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) to Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), previously authorized as the No Child Left Behind act of 2001 (NCLB), was reauthorized on December 10, 2015 when President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law. Since that time, staff from the United States Department of Education and the New York State Education Department (NYSED) has been working diligently to analyze the new to the ESSA legislation, identify programmatic and fiscal changes, clarify obligations for State Educational Agencies and Local Educational Agencies (LEAs), and determine timelines for compliance with the new and changing obligations.

On Tuesday February 9, 2016 NYSED sent a memo to District Superintendents, Superintendents of LEAs and Charter Schools and Title I Coordinators regarding the transition from NCLB to the ESSA. The memo addressed the following topics related to the ESSA:
  • State Level Obligations
  • State Level Flexibilities
  • LEA Level Obligations
  • LEA Level Flexibilities
Questions concerning the information regarding NYSED’s transition from NCLB to the ESSA should be directed to: ESSA@NYSED.GOV.
LEAs can also receive additional information on ESSA implementation by visiting USDE’s ESSA website at: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/essa/index.html.
Deadline for the Registration of Public Schools
The Department requires that school districts making changes to the registration of existing schools and opening new schools for the 2016-17 school year, submit the appropriate forms for Public School Registration by Tuesday, March 1, 2016. Public School Registration changes include:
  • opening a new public school
  • closing an existing public school
  • modifying the grade organization of an existing public school, and/or
  • changing the location of a school
Public School Registration forms can be found at: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/irs/newschool/
In addition to the submission of forms, regulations also require districts to submit a signed copy of the Board of Education resolution explicitly approving all changes that have been requested for each school.

After a district’s submission is received, NYSED staff will review the submission and the Commissioner will make recommendations to the Board of Regents regarding the approval of petitions for new schools.  The district must satisfactorily demonstrate that the school will be operated in an educationally sound manner; is in compliance with applicable statutes, rules and regulations relating to public schools; and will operate in accordance with applicable building codes and pursuant to a certificate of occupancy.  School Registration petitions submitted by Tuesday, March 1, 2016 will be reviewed by the Board of Regents at its June 2016 meeting.
School Registration submissions and inquiries regarding the process can be sent to: accountinfo@nysed.gov.
The following is information about state budget advocacy from NYSCOSS Deputy Director Bob Lowry.  I will be attending the NYSCOSS Conference and Annual Lobby Day as outlined in his message.  We will be meeting with Senator Joe Griffo on March 8th.
COUNCIL Lobby Day:  Tuesday, March 8
The COUNCIL's annual Lobby Day is set for Tuesday, March 8.  We hope you plan to participate and if you are, you should begin to schedule your appointments with your representatives in the Senate and the Assembly now.
To make an appointment, contact the Legislator’s Albany office and request a time for March 8th to meet with the Legislator. We recommend that you schedule your appointments starting at 10:00 am -- the Commissioner's session at our conference is scheduled to end by 9:15 am.
The Assembly switchboard is 518-455-4100 and the Senate switchboard is 518-455-2800.
Tuesday is a legislative session day and there may be many other groups in Albany on March 8. We recommend that you leave enough time to get through security before your first appointment. 
Since the departure of Terry Pratt as our Assistant Director for Governmental Relations, we have retained Hinman Straub Advisors to assist with our advocacy efforts for this legislative session.  When you have scheduled your appointments, please contact Heather Evans at Hinman Straub at hevans@hinmanstraub.com or (518) 436-0751 by March 1st with a list of your appointments so that we may prepare your legislative packets. Packets will be provided to you during our conference.
By March 4th , those who have provided us with their appointments will receive materials electronically to help with your logistics while at the Capitol. In addition, you will receive an electronic copy of the legislative packet and talking points for your review.
COUNCIL Report:  Four Key Points About School Aid in the 2016-17 New York State Executive Budget
On Tuesday, we sent a legislators a report titled Four Key Points About School Aid in the 2016-17 New York State Executive Budget.  
It is an attempt to educate Assemblymembers and Senators about four basic facts School Aid for next year:
  1. The proposed state budget falls far short of providing an adequate level of support to enable schools to maintain current services.
  2. The property tax cap allows only minimal increases in local revenue, necessitating significantly increasing state aid.
  3. State budget gaps have been eliminated, the Gap Elimination Adjustment must end as well – this year.
  4. Eliminating the GEA is not enough, the state must commit to re-starting and increasing the Foundation Aid formula. 
We tried make the points as simply and clearly as possible, noting for example, that less than 20 percent of districts could raise enough revenue with a 0.12 percent tax increase to preserve the job of a single first year teacher receiving typical compensation.
I will be speaking about the report on Time Warner Cable television's Capital Tonight with Liz Benjamin this evening (8 pm and 11 pm). 
Here is how the Capital Tonight blog covered the report yesterday.  Recordings of the interviews are usually made available here.
Policy Committee Meeting Canceled
Due to a death in the family, I will need to reschedule the Policy Committee meeting on February 23rd.  I will be traveling to Philadelphia on Tuesday and returning late Wednesday night.
Upcoming Events
2/25—Finance Committee Meeting—5:30 pm—HS Student Affairs; Public Forum on Budget—7:00 pm—HS Room 314; BOE Meeting—follows Budget Forum
Last Updated: 3/1/16
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