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Superintendent's Message
Massena Central School Board of Education Update
May 20, 2016

School Budget Passes
I want to thank the Massena community for their support on this year’s budget.  It is truly an honor to work with outstanding people and a community which strongly values education.  The budget process by nature is a long one and in the end I think the District was able to create a balance of keeping the tax levy frozen and providing some additional support for our teachers and students.  By supporting the creation of the capital reserve we have also made a significant investment in the future of our facilities.
I also want to congratulate Pat Bronchetti and Bill Sommerfield for their reelection to the Board of Education and newcomer Jason Premo.  Their civic mindedness and willingness to take on the tough challenges is to be commended. I am also happy that we will be able to include a student representative on our Board of Education next year.  I anticipate this will provide some excellent leadership opportunities and open an avenue of communication with our student body.

A summary of the voting is listed below:

Budget Vote

SHALL the Board of Education of Massena Central School be authorized to spend the sum of $51,244,859 as General Fund appropriations for the school year 2016-17and levy the necessary tax therefore?

Yes: __433_______ Votes No: ____94_____ Votes

Capital Reserve

SHALL the Board of Education of Massena Central School District be authorized to establish a Capital Reserve Fund? The fund shall have a probable term of ten (10) years and can be funded to a maximum of $4,000,000.

Yes: __438_______ Votes No: _____88____ Votes

Student Board Member

SHALL the District’s Board of Education have a high school student serve as an ex officio member of the Board?

Yes: __408_______ Votes No: ___121______ Votes

School Board Election
  1. Patrick Bronchetti * ___379______ Votes
  2. William Sommerfield * ___349______ Votes
  3. Jason Premo ___352______ Votes
The two (2) candidates who received 5-year terms are: Patrick Bronchetti and Jason Premo

The one (1) candidate who received a 1-year term is: William Sommerfield

* = Incumbent Candidate

Strategic Planning
Last week, the Strategic Planning Committee, along with consultant Sean Brady of Prism Decision Systems, finished their work on the draft strategic plan.  It was an incredibly productive process and I think the group came away with a great sense of accomplishment.  The committee will present the plan to the Board of Education on June 16th with an anticipated approval at the Reorganization meeting in July.  Once the plan is accepted we can begin implementation in the fall of 2016.
Student Accident
On Tuesday, two of our high school students, Ivan Delosh, and Dylan Tyo were involved in a two car accident on Route 37 at approximately 2.38 pm. Both students were transported to the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington where Dylan remains with a broken pelvis and other injuries.  Our hearts go out to the Delosh and Tyo families as they deal with the recovery of their children from this serious accident.
Here is a Courier Observer article about the crash.
HS Sewer Back-up
On May 13th, there was a sewer issue at the high school where several bathrooms needed to be closed down.  The main line coming out of the 200 wing going into the manhole was plugged.  The Village of Massena brought in equipment and was able to fix the problem. 
Albany Update
Below is an update on key educational issues as provided by NYSCOSS Deputy Director Bob Lowry.  It contains information about a recent court decision on APPR which declared a teacher’s evaluation score "arbitrary and capricious".

On Tuesday, State Supreme Court Justice Roger McDonough issued a long-awaited decision in the challenge by Long Island teacher Sheri Lederman to the state-provided growth score used in Annual Professional Performance Reviews.

In 2013-14, Ms. Lederman received a growth score of one (out of 20), down from 14 the year before.  Her rating on the growth score component fell as a result, from Effective to Ineffective. Ms. Lederman is uniformly praised as an exceptional teacher; her superintendent credited her with "extraordinarily effective teaching." Her husband acted as her attorney in the case.

Justice McDonough ruled that Ms. Lederman's growth score and rating for the 2013-14 school year were "arbitrary and capricious" and should be set aside. 

The Ledermans also sought to have state growth measures as a whole declared arbitrary and capricious and to have the state permanently enjoined from using them, "...unless they are modified to rationally evaluate teacher performance." The Justice declined to rule on this issue, concluding that regulatory actions had rendered the matter moot.  The regulatory actions include the four-year moratorium on the use of the growth score and other measures based on specified state assessments, the creation of a process to appeal growth scores, and the plan to have a revised growth model for the 2018-19 school year.

In ruling on Ms. Lederman's individual growth score, the Justice explained that, in order to find state actions arbitrary and capricious, a court must determine that the actions were "taken without sound basis or regard to the facts." He concluded that Ms. Lederman had met that bar, explaining

The Court's conclusion is founded upon: (1) the convincing and detailed evidence of VAM [Value Added Model] bias against teachers at both ends of the spectrum (e.g. those with high-performing students or those with low-performing students); (2) the disproportionate effect of petitioner's small class size and relatively large percentage of high-performing students; (3) the functional inability of high-performing students to demonstrate growth akin to lower-performing students; (4) the wholly unexplained swing in petitioner's growth score from 14 to 1, despite the presence of statistically similar scoring students in her respective classes; and, most tellingly, (5) the strict imposition of rating constraints in the form of a "bell curve" that places teachers in four categories via pre-determined percentages regardless of whether the performance of students dramatically rose or dramatically fell from the previous year.

He added,

In response to petitioner's overwhelming submissions of evidence from learned experts in various relevant fields, respondents largely failed to adequately address the rationality or necessity of the implementation of the pre-determined "bell curve". Also unaddressed were the potential VAM biases against teachers with high-performing students. Critically, respondents also failed to meaningfully address how petitioner's score could have so precipitously dropped from 14 to 1 (reflecting a drop of two levels from the second-highest level of Effective all the way to the lowest level of lneffective) in a single year with statistically similar scoring students. Respondents' reliance on the "bell-curve" distribution of 100 similarly situated teachers with similarly situated students lacked adequate detail for the Court to enter into a reasoned analysis of same.

Here is the decision; the quotes are taken from pages 11 and 12.

The decision is not a surprise.

The Justice's focus on the bell curve predetermining the shares of teachers in each rating category brought to mind a presentation by former Herricks superintendent Jack Bierwirth at our March 2012 Winter Institute. Using a series of hand-drawn bell curves, Jack illustrated how the distribution of teacher ratings would not change no matter how student achievement improved, worsened, or remained unchanged.

Our surveys have shown skepticism among superintendents about the growth score and the use of the grades 3 through 8 state assessments in educator evaluations. 

Only 20 percent of superintendents agreed in a summer 2015 survey that those assessments provide information useful for evaluating teachers; 70 percent disagreed.

Asked about the impact of the growth score on efforts to improve teaching, 54 percent of superintendents rated it negative, up from 33 percent negative the year before. Seventeen percent rated the impact positive, down from 29 percent in 2014. In contrast, 75 percent of superintendents in 2015 saw the "other 60 percent" professional practice measures as having a positive impact.

Because Justice McDonough ruled that regulatory reforms rendered moot the request for a broader dismissal of the growth score, it's not yet evident that the decision will give much impetus to efforts to re-open the APPR law this year, even just to suspend the state aid penalty threatened upon districts failing to meet the September 1 deadline for gaining approval of new APPR plan.
Governor Announces Task Force to Combat Heroin and Prescription Opioid Crisis
On Tuesday, Gov. Cuomo announced the launch of a task force to combat the heroin and prescription opioid crisis in New York State.  The group “will build on the state’s previous efforts and use their expertise and experience to develop a comprehensive action plan to combat the state’s opioid epidemic.” The task force will hold public listening sessions across New York to inform their recommendations.
Gov. Cuomo said:
“Opioid addiction is a national epidemic that continues to plague families in communities across New York – and the state has been taking aggressive action to tackle this crisis head on.  The Heroin Task Force will take these efforts to the next level with a comprehensive action plan developed by a diverse coalition of experts. We will use the task force’s recommendations to implement smart solutions that will protect public health, enhance safety in communities statewide and save the lives of vulnerable New Yorkers.”
More information on the state’s efforts to address opioid is available at http://combatheroin.ny.gov/.
School Auction
At the Board meeting on May 5th, the Board passed a resolution to declare a number of items unneeded by the district.  This authorized the District to sell these items at public auction which is now scheduled for Sunday June 5, 2016 starting at 12:00 pm at the high school. 
The auction will be conducted by Blanchard Auction Service of Potsdam.  Here is a link to their website which includes a listing of sale items along with photos.
Moving Massena Forward
On May 24th, there will be a public presentation of a plan to diversify Massena’s economy that has been developed by a group of community stakeholders led by Mayor Tim Currier.  Below is a press release about the event and some background on the initiative.
Massena NY --- Late last fall, Massena Mayor Timmy J. Currier formed Moving Massena Forward Community Coalition to develop a strategy for a diversified job growth in Massena and the North Country.

The coalition’s core members have identified ten priority areas to focus on which will diversify the economy, resurrect neighborhoods, make the community a better looking place to live and work and improve economic conditions for all. The coalition will identify these priority areas at a community forum on Tuesday - May 24th at 7:00 p.m. at the Massena Community Center, 61 Beach Street.

Finding economic solutions for the community requires broad community engagement that encourages participation and dialogue from all those interested in Massena’s future.

“Identifying the core priorities to move Massena forward was step one, now the real work begins where we engage members of the community to critique them and help us develop strategies to implement them”, said Currier.

The coalition has identified ten priority areas of focus:
  1. Downtown Arts and Culture 
  2. Natural Resources/Outdoor Recreation 
  3. Destination Marketing/Community Re-branding 
  4. Community Broadband & WiFi Hotspots 
  5. Sports
  6. Healthy Living
  7. Agriculture & Agribusiness
  8. Sustainable Community/Clean Power 
  9. Manufacturing 
  10. Regional Partnerships
The coalition is interested in hearing the ideas of community members and encourage attendance at the public presentation Tuesday, May 24th at 7:00 p.m. at the Community Center on Beach Street.

Several stakeholder meetings are being planned in June and will be announced at the presentation to encourage participation in developing the strategies “Moving Massena Forward”.

“Participation by community members is vital to ensure these strategies are realistic and align with other ideas and initiatives, so I encourage our citizens to join the coalition and be a part of Massena’s future”, Currier added.
JW Leary Junior High
News & Notes

  • The Orchestra Recruitment Tour (now in its twelfth year) showcases the Massena High School Orchestra, along with the 8th grade members of the JW Leary Junior High School Orchestra performing for the four elementary schools in the Massena Central School District on Thursday May 19th. The tour has two main objectives: To promote the string programs to the younger students in our district who will have the opportunity to play a string instrument when they reach fifth grade, and to create an opportunity for the high school musicians to take a lead role in providing musical training, technical assistance and coaching to the junior high and elementary orchestra members in our district. 
The Orchestra Recruitment Tour features music that the High School orchestra is preparing to perform in Concert on May 25th in the Massena High School Auditorium at 7:00 pm. The selections will feature the great works of J.S. Bach, Dmitri Shostakovich, Ottorino Respighi, and Etta James, as well as a contemporary piece by Doug Spata. 

13 members of the Junior High Orchestra were able to participate for the Tour:
Kathleen Taillon
Jillian Chapman
Madison Bentley
Anah Bogdan
Callie Dow
Morgan Deragon
Peyton Brown
Sean Murphy
Abagayle Morrell
Keely Jock
Emily White
Pauline Gardner
Emma Kormanyos
  • JW Leary is entering its fourth year of WEB.  WEB (Where Everybody Belongs) is a program which guides 7th graders to academic and social success by reducing the initial challenges of entering middle school.  On Thursday, May 19, WEB held its annual Spring Play Day.  The 7th grade students who filled out a WEB Leader application were invited for the afternoon.  The 76 students were divided into groups to complete activities designed to show initiative, cooperation, and leadership.  
  • On Friday, May 20, a group of WEB teachers met to discuss applicants and select next year’s WEB Leaders and A-team.  Teachers took into consideration the student’s participation in Spring Play Day, academics, behavior, attendance, recommendations from team teachers, and overall character of the applicants.  It’s a very strenuous, but needed, process to ensure we select the best possible WEB leaders for the 2016-2017 school year. 
  • On Tuesday May 10, 2016 The J.W. Leary Junior High Chorus performed their annual Spring Concert. The concert had performances from the Men’s Ensemble, Cambiata, and combined seventh and eighth grade chorus. The concert featured many wonderful solos and some great pieces from Joel Raney, Greg Gilpin, and Roger Emerson among others. Despite the great performances by all the students, the concert was bittersweet in that it was the final concert directed by JH Chorus teacher Candy Taylor. 
Grade 8 Science                                May 25
Performance Test
Grade 8 science Written                     June 6
JH Awards Ceremony                         June 14
Final Exams                                      June 15-17 and 20-21
Jefferson Elementary School
News & Notes


Junior Kindergarten Field Trip To police and Fire Department

The Jefferson Junior Kindergarten class recently learned about community helpers. On Thursday, May 19th, they visited the Massena Fire and Police Departments. The students started the day at the fire station, where they toured a fire truck and were able to spray the fire hose. Next, they visited the police station, where they had an up close view of a police car. The class ended the day with lunch at the park.

Engaging Math and Literacy Night at Jefferson Elementary

Jefferson students enjoyed a buy 1 get 1 free Scholastic book fair, yummy make-your-own ice cream sundaes and a free literacy/ math basket give-away for attending the evening event. Parents were able to accompany their children to the evening of literacy and fun. Who knew learning could be this much fun?


Jefferson Kids Care on the Air

Todd Truax from WMSA interviewed Kiah LaPradd, Kyleigh Holcombe, and Eli Jose Araujo from Jefferson's Kids Care group. The group created, donated, and presented some of their amazing finished quilts and blankets to the Massena Memorial Hospital's Radiothon. We are so very proud of our JKC students!!!

Preparing for Memorial Day Ceremony

Justin Donaldson, grade 6, Alyssa Fountaine, grade 5, Anthony Rivera-Doman, grade 6, and Logan Eggleston, grade 5, rehearse the playing of "Taps" in preparation of the Memorial Day Ceremony scheduled for May 26.

Grade Three Flat Stanley Project

Third Grade student, Kyleigh LaMay is displaying her Flat Stanley photo album from Yorktown, Virginia.
Kyleigh mailed her Flat Stanley to Mr. and Mrs. Jeremiah Powers. While visiting Virginia, Flat Stanley went on an educational tour of Colonial Williamsburg. He also went to the beach to enjoy the sunlight. While basking in the sun, Flat Stanley also got caught up in a pirate invasion!
Mr. Powers, a United States Army Officer, took Flat Stanley to work with him at Fort Eustis. Stanley was able to meet soldiers in the battalion.
Kyleigh learned many interesting facts and bits of information from Flat Stanley's experiences in Virginia.
The students in Mrs. Scott's third grade class are now all receiving information back from each of their Flat Stanley's travels. Mrs. Scott began this long-term project by reading to the class a story called "Flat Stanley" by Jeff Brown. This story was a humorous tale of a boy who becomes "flat" when his bulletin board falls on him. Stanley realizes that there are several advantages of being flat, such as the ability to slide under doors and yes, being mailed in an envelope for long trips.

Each student in Mrs. Scott's classroom mailed their Flat Stanley for a two week trip to a relative or friend that lived somewhere in the United States. The instructions were to help Stanley experience exciting things and record the events with pictures of him on the adventures.
The purpose of the activity was to assist the students in studying communities throughout the country. Each of Flat Stanley's visits were located on a big map in the classroom while all of his adventure pictures were displayed on the wall.

Tie Club Member

The newest member of Mr. Richards' Tie Club is Brianna Smith. Brianna is a third grade student in Mrs. Eggleston's class at Jefferson. Brianna reached the 100 point mark on the Scholastic Reading Challenge.

Jefferson Marathon Club 2016

The Jefferson Marathon club is going strong. The club started in 2010. Each Thursday, during the months of April, May and June, students have the opportunity to stay afterschool until 4:00 to train and log 25.2 miles for their marathon.  The purpose of this time is to provide students with guided running to enhance the ideas of a warm-up, stretching, and pacing.  Students are expected to run/jog at least a mile (4 laps) and many will achieve more than that.  Attending the afterschool session does not guarantee that students will have 101 laps, but provides time and assistance for students to reach their goal.  Students must have 101 laps logged by J-Day to participate in the Mulvaugh Mile, held on the last full school day in June (J-Day), and finish their marathon (26.2 miles). Currently there are 80 students participating in the club. This club could not exist if it were not for the time and dedication of Mr. Patrick Henrie, Mrs. Donna Henrie, Mrs. Barbara Hewlett, Mrs. Ruth Short, Mrs. Jessica Smith, Mrs. Elizabeth Layo, and Mrs. Wendy Serguson.

Orchestra Recruitment Tour

Jefferson students in grades 4, 5, and 6 were treated to a musical performance by high school and junior high orchestra members on May 19th. The purpose of this visit was to encourage and recruit future orchestra members. Students are able to begin their orchestra or band careers beginning at grade 5. It was certainly a proud moment to see all of Jefferson Elementary's alumni back performing for our students.
A Memorial Day ceremony will be held on Thursday, May 26th at 2:10.
There will be playing of taps along with some singing. Through this citizenship event, we hope to teach the students about honoring the service and sacrifice of our military men and women. At the end of the ceremony, students will be invited to place flowers around the flag pole. If parents wish to send in potted flowers, we will arrange to have them planted.
Thursday, March 26
  • Classes assemble on front lawn @ 2:10
  • Memorial Day address by Mr. Richards
  • Presentation of the Flag
  • Pledge of Allegiance – all students and teachers
  • Playing of Taps
  • Presentation of blankets and quilts to our honored guests
  • Singing of the National Anthem – all students and teachers
  • Singing of “America” (My Country, ‘tis of Thee)
  • Singing of  "America, The Beautiful"
  • Placing flowers at the flag pole             
After placing flowers, each class should exit to return to their classroom for dismissal.
Madison Elementary School
News & Notes

Math and Movement at Madison
(Article from 5/13/2016 Daily Courier Observer)
MASSENA — Games of hopscotch stressed fun and fundamentals Thursday at Madison Elementary School.
The school hosted a Math and Movement Family Night on Thursday, when students had a chance to do some hopping on floor mats while picking up math and English pointers in the process.
The Math and Movement program was founded by math educator Suzy Koontz. Using simple and fun exercises, it introduces the fundamentals of arithmetic and early algebra to children of all ages.
Ronica Lawrence, a Math and Movement consultant who works with Ms. Koontz, was on hand for the evening. She’s also a teacher at Heuvelton Central School who has introduced the Math and Movement program to her students.
“I do it because I believe in it,” Ms. Lawrence said.
She led a training session for a group of Madison teachers before students and their families arrived for an hour of Math and Movement fun. They moved from mat to mat, which filled the gymnasium floor, each offering a different challenge for the students.
At one mat, students hop scotched along numbers from 1 to 30, saying the numbers as their feet touched them.
“At first it seems so easy, but it does get a little tricky for them,” Ms. Lawrence said.
Once the students had finished hopping along that mat, she suggested the teachers bring them back to the starting line and give them another challenge by hopping by threes.
At a second mat, the “Literacy Map,” the students had to hopscotch while saying the words they landed on, like “I can go to the bank.”
“Have them say the sentence as they’re hopping, but help them,” Ms. Lawrence said.
And, she said, if the students wanted to, they could get down on their knees and trace the letters or try to spell out the words to further their learning.
Students had to hop by fours at another mat, counting 4, 8, 12, 16 and on as they hopped.
Another mat had them hopping along the names of planets, while they had to hop over odd numbers at another one, counting out loud the number they landed on.
Yet another mat taught them about geometric shapes, from the three-sided triangle to the 10-sided decagon as they hopped down the mat.
They counted by sixes, hopped by sevens, hopped by nines, learned about contractions and homophones, words that sound alike, but are spelled differently — and enjoyed themselves in the process.
“When these kids start, their faces will just light up,” Ms. Lawrence said.
According to the program website, Math and Movement is a kinesthetic, multi-sensory approach to teaching math that incorporates physical exercise, stretching, cross-body movements, yoga, and visually-pleasing floor mats that are designed to encourage students to practice math concepts. The program allows students to hop, walk, crawl, dance or touch the mats and banners as they learn, meaning more use of their visual, auditory, motor and kinesthetic senses.
The Massena Central School District was one of four regional schools to receive funding from the St. Lawrence County Health Initiative, through Dryden Mutual Insurance Group, for the program. Massena’s three elementary schools — Nightengale, Jefferson and Madison — applied as one unit and received $995 each to stage the Math and Movement Family Fun Night.

Madison Receives $4,300 Lowes Toolbox for Education Grant

Recently we applied for a Lowes grant to support our Math and Movement initiative here at Madison.  With the help of our partners at BOCES we were able to secure $4,300 to purchase Math and Movement Materials for our program at Madison.  This money will go a long way toward providing us with the opportunity to provide Math and Movement here at Madison.

Orchestra Tours Visits Madison

On the afternoon of May 19th or students in grades 4-6 were treated to a concert performed by our high school orchestra.  The groups played selections which spanned several centuries of orchestral music.  Mr. Pratti explained to our fourth graders that next year they will be able to play instruments in either band or orchestra and that in a few years they could be performing too.  Our music programs in Massena are strong and it is always a pleasure to see our former Owls come back home to play for us (picture on left above).


Home Depot “Kids Workshop” at Madison

Congratulations to Mrs. Albert's 4th grade class on winning the Madison Elementary Square 1 Arts fundraiser Grand Prize. The class received a special "Kids Workshop" from Home Depot. The students had the choice of making an Angry Birds Birdhouse, Sports Bookends, or an Herb Planter. Thank you to the  Home Depot and all who participated in the fundraiser.

Important Upcoming Dates @ Madison
5/25/2016 Grade 4 Science Test- Performance
5/27/2016 NO SCHOOL- Snow Day Give Back
6/1/2016 All Elementary Spring Concert
6/6/2016 Grade 4 Science Test- Written
6/6/2016 Grade 6 field Trip to Ausable Chasm
6/7-8/2016 Outstanding Owls
6/ /2016 Grade 4- Upper Canada Village Trip
6/14/2016 Grade 3 Performance for Families @ 1:45pm
6/16/2016 UPK Moving Up Ceremony
6/17-6/22/2016 End OF Year, Early Dismissal Days
6/17/2016 Donuts with Dad, 8:00am
6/21/2016 6th Grade Moving Up @9:30am

Nightengale Elementary School
News & Notes
4-H Camp Overlook

Our 6th graders, with their 6th grade teachers, went on an overnight trip to 4-H Camp Overlook on Wednesday through Thursday of this past week. The mission of 4-H Camp Overlook is to provide a natural Adirondack environment where youth, under the guidance of positive role models, take part in a personal growth experience that emphasizes community building, positive social interactions, environmental awareness, skill building and fun.
Team building programs include a sequence of activities on the camp Adventure Course;
  • Group problem-solving initiatives.
  • Low-ropes elements that require teamwork for success.

Junior Kindergarten Field Trip to the Fire Station
All three elementary schools brought their JK classes to the fire station on May 19th. The goal of this trip was to promote and educate on fire prevention and safety. The students were able to meet our local firefighters and try out some of the fun equipment. Thanks to our Massena Fire Department for taking the time to visit with our youngsters.


Orchestra Recruitment Tour

Every year Mr. Mario Pratti visits all the elementary schools recruiting students for our orchestra program. This is an important time of year when students get to make choices about instruments for next year.


Box Tops for Education

Our PTO collected Box Tops for the past for the month and each class in each grade level that earns the highest number of Box Tops points will be receive a POPSICLE PARTY!!!
Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten Registration-
Age Requirements-
  • Age 4 on or before December 1, 2016
  • Age 5 on or before December 1, 2016
You may register at and of the three elementary buildings.
Noble Nighthawks from May 13, 2016
Each week students are selected for their hard work both in and out of the classroom. This work can be either academic, social/emotional, character, or mere effort on the part of the student.

Upcoming Events at Nightengale-
  • Grade 4 Science Performance Test May 25th
  • PreK Grandparents Day May 26th
  • NO SCHOOL May 27 and May 30
  • All Elementary Spring Concert- 7:00pm (HS Auditorium) June 1
  • Kindergarten Screening at Nightengale June 1st 
District Upcoming Events
5/24—Moving Massena Forward Public Presentation—7:00 pm—Community Center
5/25—MFT APPR Negotiations—5:15 pm—CAB; HS Mixed Chorus Concert—7:30 pm—HS Auditorium
5/26—Policy Committee Meeting—6:30 pm—CAB; HS Women’s Chorus Concert—7:30 pm—HS Auditorium
5/27—Give Back Day—No School
5/30—Memorial Day—No School
6/1—All Elementary Spring Concert—7:00 pm—HS Auditorium
Last Updated: 6/1/16
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