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Superintendent's Message
Massena Central School Board of Education Update
April 8, 2016
School Budget 2016-17

The BOE Finance Committee met on Monday to prepare recommendations for the 2016-17 budget which will be presented to the full Board on 4/18.  After much discussion, the Committee is recommending a combination of a tax freeze, lowering of designated fund balance, and the addition/restoration of staffing to support our students.  Below are some of the more salient facts about the proposed budget.  I have also attached some of the documents we reviewed at the Finance Committee.  We will discuss further at the Board meeting on 4/18. 
  • The State Budget provided $24.3 billion in aid to education which is a $1.4 billion or 6.1% increase over aid in 2015-16.
  • Foundation Aid increased by $626 million.  Massena realized an increase of $2,095,050 which amounted to $1,521,083 over the Governor's proposal of $573,967 in Foundation Aid.
  • Community Schools Aid was added to the state budget for struggling and persistently struggling schools in the amount of $75 million.  Some High Needs schools, including Massena, also received a portion of $100 million to be budgeted as a set aside in Foundation Aid.  This amounted to $227,985 for the district.  The only direction we have on the use of the money is in the actual law which contains language about transforming school buildings into community hubs with services such as mental health counseling, health clinics, and legal services.  Nick Brouillette and I engaged in a NYSSBA webinar on Wednesday in hope of learning more on the topic.  There was no new information available as they expect the SED will provide some guidelines in the near future.
  • The $434 million left in the Gap Elimination Adjustment was fully restored which helped average and low need schools.  For Massena, the amount of restoration was $6,880.
  • Full funding was provided for BOCES, Building, Special Education and Transportation Aid at an increase of $341 million. 
  • The proposed MCS budget will increase by $1,253,432 or 2.5% to $51,244,859 from $49,991,427.  These numbers are subject to change slightly as we finalize the budget prior to 4/18.
  • With the increase in Foundation Aid, we are recommending a 0% tax increase for 2016-17.
  • The recommended designated fund balance is $2,500,103 or $268,853 less than the 2015-16 budget. The use of reserve funding in the budget will be $50,000.  Lowering the designated fund balance increases the District’s long term financial stability. 
  • A Capital Reserve will be established if the voters approve of the fund in May.  This reserve will assist the District in preparing for a capital project and lowering the costs of bonding for same.  We are recommending an initial deposit in the fund of $2,250,000.
  • As discussed at the Finance Committee meeting, the administration is recommending additions/restorations in the budget to improve our services in 2016-17.  
Capital Outlay Project

On Monday, the Facilities Committee met and as part of the agenda discussed the $100,000 capital outlay project for 2016-17.  The proposal is to continue to remove asbestos floor tile from the junior high school and to replace the mag lock doors in the front and back entrances.  A cost estimate and timeline was provided by our architect March Associates which is attached to the Facilities Committee meeting agenda.  We will address in more detail at the BOE meeting on 4/18.  The Committee also addressed the Shared Transportation Agreement with the Village of Massena and a problem with water run off infiltrating the block on the Village side of the building.  This discussion is on-going as we explore the responsibilities for cost and maintenance included in the agreement.

State Testing

This week, the Grade 3-8 English Language Arts exams were administered across the state.  Teachers are now in the process of scoring the exams with the assistance of our Director of Curriculum Evelyn Fiske.  We have not yet received feedback on the exams but as you know the state shortened the length and allowed more time for students to complete.  Overall, the number of Grade 3-8 students who refused to take the test declined from the previous year (17.6% vs. 25.6%).  Our highest number of test refusals were in Grades, 5, 7, & 8.  The state tests in math are next up this week beginning on 4/13.

High School
News & Notes

Mock Trial

Mock Trial competitions began on March 29, 2016 at SUNY Canton’s Kingston Theater.
The Massena Team proved a formidable force in Mock Trial.  Their first experience was against Potsdam whose reputation precedes them. The team did not falter under their reputation. Although they lost by a narrow margin, their lawyers and witnesses were well spoken and professional. They were complimented by the lawyer and coach of the opposing team on what a great presence they had for their first competition, how organized they were, and the sportsmanship they demonstrated.  On April 5, 2016, they competed for a second time against Heuvelton, where they were not defeated. In order to move to the next competition, they needed to receive enough combined points, which they did not have. We were very proud of their effort for the first year. Winning on April 5th created a great amount of excitement amongst the team to refine the skills they learned this year in preparation for next year’s event. They are planning a summer Mock Trial camp and Effie has invited them to sit in a trial this summer to how lawyers operate during a high profile case. This team was truly a shining example for Massena High School. Thanks to Amanda Hamilton and Effie Kyriakopoulos for their time, effort and dedication to coaching our team.
Link Crew

Link Crew members were in 9th Grade Global classes this past week to provide students with activities focused on strategies that are necessary for success in high school. Students learned the importance of study skills, setting goals, staying focused on their goals, paying attention to details and not procrastinating. The strategies were taught through several games that kept the attention of the students while having them work in teams. The Link Crew members did an outstanding job working with the 9th graders who have come to highly respect them. Mr. Jordan and Mrs. Covell are currently accepting applications for next year’s Link Crew members. Training will being in August with the first activity being Freshman Orientation.

Spring Spirit Week

April 4-8 marked the second High School Spirit Week. Again, Student Council put together a memorable week with competitions each day to increase Raider Spirit. New for this Spirit Week was Tim Horton gift cards given to students who showed the most spirit for each of the daily competitions. Also new for this Spirit Week was one day being designated as Autism Awareness Day. Students paid $1 or more for a puzzle piece with their name on it to be displayed in the lobby, picture below. All monies collected stay here at the high school for our Community Based Work Program, which many of our students with Autism work in. Culminating activities were a Pep Rally and a Black Light Dance. Fun was had by all. Again, a special thanks goes to Maggie Trombley and Annemarie Miller who do a fantastic job as advisers of Student Council. I continue to receive positive comments about the selection of the activities at the Pep Rally and how everyone has a good time participating in them. The dance was a success and once again the chaperones had to shoo the students out.

Upcoming Events

April 21, 2016  Parent Conferences from 4pm- 7pm. Included during Parent Conferences will be a presentation on internet/social media safety by Tim Losito and a panel of admissions officers from Clarkson, SLU, SUNY Potsdam, and SUNY Canton to meet with  parents of Juniors.

April 29, 2016 – Staff Development Day

JW Leary Junior High School
News & Notes
  1. The final fundraiser is complete and t-shirts have been ordered for the Junior High Field Experience trip to Boston. The trip will be from May 12 to the 15th.  The chaperone list is being finalized.
  2. Family history projects have been completed by 7th grade students in Tom French’s English Class at J.W. Leary Junior High School and are on display in the lobby and cafeteria for the upcoming Rotary Pancake Breakfast.  The projects were completed in conjunction with the reading of Mildred Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.  The main character of the book often relates her family history and the importance of that history to her situation in life. The students plotted their family tree on poster board and wrote a narrative about aspects of their family history that are unique or for which they are proud.  The projects also contain artifacts with captions that explain the family's past​.​                                     
  3. JH art teacher Nicole Charleson’s students are working on value and its impact on art. The students use charcoal to create a value scale and then will use charcoal and value to create a portrait on newspaper.                                                                  
  4. The Junior Iron Chef competition took place on Saturday March 12, 2016. Anne Root took a team of J.W. Leary Junior High students to the competition. The team name is "Culinary Raiders" and they made Awesome Veggie Dippers. The first picture is the team and the second picture is of the plated food. The students did a great job!  
  5. Recently JH ELA teacher April Charleson’s students watched a 15 minute video on screencastomatic she had made in order to better study the structure and function of a screenplay.  They had their own screenplay for Harry Potter and marked text as it was done in the video.  Afterward, they had to show their understanding of the structure of script and identify the main components of the structure.  Attached are photos of her first period class.  This is the beginning of the end of unit assessment for To Kill a Mockingbird.                                       
  6. Catherine Donahue has been working with librarian John Acton to put QR codes on books and in the library. If students scan the code, they can watch a brief overview of what the book is. This link provides an example.
7-8 Math state tests                 April 13-15
Career Day                              April 28, 2016
Poverty Simulation                 April 29, 2016
Spring Dance                          May 6, 2016
Boston Trip (Field                   May 12-15
Jefferson Elementary School
News & Notes

Jefferson Second Graders Using Q-tips to Practice Math


A creative way to make math interesting. Mrs. Cook's Second Grade students practiced rows, columns, and repeated addition number sentences while making arrays with tempera paint and Q-tips. The excited students worked individually building the foundation to multiplication.

Battle of the Books- Grade 6

Jefferson Elementary is proud to have a 6th grade team competing in the 2016 North Country Battle of the Books on April 19 at the Massena Public Library: Marissa Yanacheak, Jaden Brownell, Jacob Ransom, and Mason Zera.  The Lightning Readers began their journey in November with a list of twenty books that had to be divided and conquered.  The members have voraciously read these books independently, on their own time.  Over the next couple weeks, they will begin question drills to prepare for the Battle questioning format.  The Lightning Readers will be competing against other 4-person teams of 4-6 graders from our four local elementary schools. The team that wins the double elimination competition will go on to represent Massena in the Regional Battle in Gouverneur.  We are so proud of their hard work and effort, and look forward to the Battle! The sixth grade team is coached by Mrs. Terminelli.

Battle of the Books- Grade 4 and 5

Students will be competing in the Battle is the Books competition April 19th at the public library In Massena. Cathy Dix and Barbara Hewlett have three teams of 4th and 5th graders this year that have read and studied 20 novels at high lexile levels since December in addition to the regular school work, play practice, sports, and dance. They meet every Tuesday night to read, study and practice for the quiz bowl type competition in two weeks with books like Dark Water Rising, Listen Slowly, and The Saturday Boy. Two of the teams were 2nd and 3rd last year and were asking again and again when they could get started this year.

The following children should be commended for their hard work and dedication:

Brahm deconning                                            Christine Grant
Alyssa Fountaine                                            Briallen Harper-Moulton
Alorha Dhantie                                                Aiden Fregoe
Emmalee Coffin                                              Veronika Garrand
Olivia Morris                                                   Luc Eddy
Andrew Lamora

Jefferson Garden Club

This is the third year that Jefferson has hosted garden club to its 4th grade students.  This brain child of Paula Henry has developed into more than just a school garden.  Our students learn about how to read seed packets, sustainability, how to plant so plants get proper nutrients, proper maintenance, harvesting and preparing healthy meals. The fourth grade curriculum fits perfectly with this initiative. Fourth grade teachers take turn leading the group through the year and watering through the summer.  Students stay after school each Monday from April-June
Jefferson Elementary School
First Grade Spring Concert
April 12, 2016

Directed by Mrs. Nora Darling, the first grade students have prepared 8 selections covering a wide variety of styles to share with their parents. They have been working since January on their performance. If the dress rehearsal is any indication of how the actual concert will go, then it is going to be an outstanding performance.
How To Make A Hot Fudge Sundae

Mrs. Bulger's second grade students took an interesting and delicious spin on their "How-To" writing project. The students began by making and eating their own hot fudge sundae. After enjoying their creations, they completed a writing assignment to describe the steps that were involved. This project was rewarding in several ways.
Madison Elementary School
News & Notes


Buddy Bench to be Installed at Madison

With the support of our Parent group Madison Elementary we will bring the Buddy Bench to our school. Buddy Benches were the idea of an eight-year-old Pennsylvania student named Christian B. and have been used on playgrounds nationwide to help students make connections with their peers. In a 2013 Scholastic News article, Buddy Benches are described as a special bench where students can sit if they are feeling lonely. It’s usually brightly colored and labeled “BUDDY BENCH” in big letters. Other students can then go to the bench and ask them if they would like to play or talk.” For more information about this story, please see: http://magazines.scholastic.com/news/2013/12/Buddy-Bench

 As a part of this project our School Counselor, Mrs. Burke, plans to go into the classrooms to teach our students about the new Buddy Bench. Her intentions are to teach the rules of the Buddy Bench to our 4th grade students first and have a select group of 4th graders teach the younger students using skits. The rules of the Buddy Bench are simple. The Buddy Bench is used for students who may not have someone to play with that day. For example, his/her friend is absent; he/she is feeling lonely or even if he/she is shy and not sure how to ask to join in a new group. Another rule is if you chose to sit on the bench in hopes of meeting a new friend and someone comes over to ask you to play he/she must get up and go play with that person or group who asked first. The idea is it teaches our children to be more observant and mindful about their surroundings and who may be feeling left out or alone and transfers these skills to other areas of their day. For instance, if someone is sitting alone in the lunch room they may notice and go sit with or invite him/her to sit at their table or even at the neighborhood playground learning to invite someone to play if he/she notices someone alone.

http://www.buddybench.orgPlease visit the following website: www.buddybench.org to check out and learn more about the Buddy Bench. We are excited about this Buddy Bench and hope to have it installed later this spring; it will be a great way for both our students who are not sure how to join in a group become part of a group during recess and for our students to learn and practice looking out for those students and implement friendship strategies to be sure everyone feels accepted and part of the whole group.  

Can you help??
Who Club Looking for Volunteers for End of Year Events

The Who Club, our Madison Parent Group, has many events coming up as we come to final months of the school year and we need your help.  Over the next couple of months we will be having our Muffins with Mom, Donuts with Dad, 6th Grade Moving-up and Madison Play Day. 

Each of these events require help from our parents. Specific times and dates will be provided via our Facebook page when details are finalized.

In May we will be hosting our spring book fair from May 2-5.  Mrs. Clary needs some help from 8:00-8:50am and 2 volunteers from 6-8pm on the night of May 5.

If you are able to help with any of these awesome opportunities for Madison students and their families please visit The Madison Who Club Parent Group on Facebook.  You can provide your contact information there and somebody from the Who Club will get in touch with you.

Thanks for your continued support of our students and our school community.

ELA Testing Complete and Math is Upcoming

New York State ELA testing is complete and the Math test is next week on Wednesday the 13th, Thursday the 14th and Friday the 15th.  We want to thank all of our families for your support through testing this year.  Our students worked very hard on the ELA test this week and you should be very proud of their efforts.

Ayden Bovay in Mrs. Tishberg’s  2nd grade class is hard at work doing his math. 

Important Upcoming Dates @ Madison
4/13-15 NYS Math Testing
4/20 6th Grade Astronomy Night
4/21 6th Grade Spring Photos (they are used on the moving-up certificates too)
4/21 Ogdensburg Command Performance at HS for grades Jk-3 (Alexander Who's Not, Not, Not, Not, Not, Not, Going to Move)
4/27 Madison Art Club
4/29 Professional Development Day - NO SCHOOL

Nightengale Elementary School
News & Notes

Math and Movement
We had a great turn out for our Math and Movement night. Our gymnasium was filled with over forty mats, displaying both Math and ELA activities. Parents and students had a blast learning and moving throughout the gym. If you get a chance, you can visit Math and Movement Nights at Jefferson and Madison in the next few weeks.
Pre-K’s Field Trip to Hannafords
Our Nightengale Pre-K classrooms  visited Hannafords grocery store on April 1st. Hannafords offers a Guiding Stars Nutrition Lesson. They were able to tour the departments within the store and try foods from each department. We want to thank Hannafords for the opportunity.

Renewal House Presentation, Hands Are Not For Hitting
Nightengale had a guest speaker today, 4/7,  for 1st grade, 2nd grade and JK classes. Valarie Dana from Renewal House read a book titled, Hands are Not for Hitting to teach students about expressing feelings appropriately.

Square 1 Art Winners

Julianna Miller 6th grade : Sports bag; Pink back
Kristen Oliver 5th grade: Sports bag; black back
Cierra Ladison 4th grade: Sports bag; pink back
Natalee Gooshaw 3rd grade: Sketchbook
Carley Fregoe 2nd grade: went home sick
Reese Faucher 1st grade: Sports bag; Pink back
Mea Davey K : Sports bag; pink back
Jack Tyo JK: Sketchbook
Nightengale Highlights

April 21st, Spring Concert 7:00pm
April 21st, Ogdensburg Command Performance K-3
April 22nd is Popcorn Day 
Upcoming Events
4/13-15—Grade 3-8 NYS Math Exams
4/14—BOE Policy Committee Meeting—7:00 pm—CAB
4/18— Finance Committee Meeting—5:30 pm—HS Student Affairs; BOE Meeting—6:30 pm—HS Room 314
4/19-20—Strategic Planning Meetings—8:00 am-3:30 pm—Chamber of Commerce
Last Updated: 4/19/16
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