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Superintendent's Message
Massena Central School Board of Education Update
May 27, 2016

 
Memorial Day
 
I want to wish everyone a Happy Memorial Day.   I hope it was a time of strengthening the bonds with family and friends as well as fond remembrances of those who have passed.  Our marching band helped to honor this day with their participation in the Memorial Day Parade.  They looked great decked out in their uniforms and did an excellent job playing for the crowds who lined Main Street. I attended the Memorial Day celebration in Veterans Park to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so we could live in freedom.  There was a nice crowd in attendance on this beautiful day and the AMVETS did a great job organizing the event.
 
Banner Week for Massena Athletics
 
This week, our Boys Varsity baseball, lacrosse, and golf teams won Section X Championships.  Congratulations to coaches Greg Paquin, Kris Covell and Mike Matejcik and their teams for these outstanding accomplishments. We wish them all the best in the state tournaments. 
 
Best of luck to our Girls Varsity Softball team who will play Malone on Tuesday for the Section title at SUNY Potsdam and Girls Lacrosse who also play on Tuesday against Canton for the title at Potsdam Central School. Go Raiders!!
 
Fundraising Coordination
 
At the last BOE meeting the question was asked about developing a calendar for fundraising so that multiple events are not being conducted simultaneously. With our new Rschooltoday calendar system in 16-17 we anticipate there will be a dropdown menu which will allow fundraising to be added to a common calendar. AD Tim Hayes is organizing the training on the calendar and will be researching this question with the vendor.
 
NYS Education Department Field Testing
 
This week, each of our elementary schools will be performing computer based field testing as required by the SED.  We have been given specific grade levels for these exams which are expected to take less than one hour. Jefferson and Nightengale will be testing Grade 5 math while Madison will be given the ELA field test to Grade 4. This will be the first time that state exam questions will be administered on the computer.  This trial run is expected to test the capacity of schools across the state to use computers for testing instead of pencil and paper.  It is anticipated that eventually all exams will be given via computer.
 
School Accountably (Jefferson Elementary)
 
Recently, we learned that Jefferson Elementary School was designated a Local Assistance Plan School for 2016-17 under the state’s accountability system.  The LAP is the lowest level of designation but does require considerable effort to meet the associated state requirements. Jefferson Elementary was identified as a LAP School as a result of the subgroup of White students not making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in English Language Arts in the 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years.
 
LAP School are required to complete the Diagnostic Self-Reflection (DSR)  completed by a team composed of building leadership, teachers, parents and District personnel.  We will also be required write a 2016-17 Local Assistance Plan based on the DSR which identifies:
 
  1. The supports and interventions necessary to improve the performance of the subgroup identified
  2. The list of actions which will be taken and the timeline for implementation
  3. Additional resources and PD needed to support the implementation of the Plan
 
Jefferson’s LAP Plan will need to be BOE approved and posted on the District’s website by July 29th.  The district will receive $20,000 to support the implementation of Jefferson’s LAP Plan.  We are in the process of organizing the team and writing the LAP. It is expected that the Plan will be presented to the BOE in early July.
 
Albany Update
 
The following is an update from Albany provided by NYSCOSS Deputy Director Bob Lowry:
 
End of Session Issues

The regular session of the State Legislature is scheduled to end in three weeks, on Thursday, June 16.
The biggest education issue to be resolved is whether to extend mayoral control of the schools in New York City. For now, there seems to be no discussion of authorizing private school tax credits, but we and others continue to watch for any movement on that subject. Miscellaneous issues continue to arise, including proposals to mandate that schools close on general election days (the county boards of elections are pushing this) and to mandate testing for lead in school drinking water and remediation if concentrations are found. On the positive side, we are optimistic that legislation will pass to streamline the process for filling vacancies on BOCES boards.
 
We are proactively advocating four priorities:
  • "De-linking" eligibility for School Aid increases from meeting the September 1 deadline for APPR plan approval
  • Raising the BOCES District Superintendent salary cap
  • Authorizing districts to maintain a reserve fund for Teachers Retirement System obligations
  • "Fixing the tax cap" (e.g., making the base 2 percent rather than the lesser of 2 percent or inflation, whichever is less).
For now, the TRS reserve and tax cap items are primarily opportunities to discuss longer term school finance concerns − no consequential action seems likely on either in the next three weeks. The DS salary cap legislation did pass the Senate last year and was reported from the Education Committee to the floor in that house yesterday and we continue to push it with the Assembly.
 
I am spending the most time on the APPR-School Aid penalty. That issue seemed to have no life, but last week I and others did detect some renewed interest. During the state budget negotiations, we, NYSSBA, NYSUT, SAANYS and others advocated removing the aid penalty deadline and allowing districts to evaluate their teachers and principals using a plan approved under either the old law (Education Law section 3012-c) or the new (§3012-d). We have continued to advocate that position.
 
Here is a spreadsheet I have been using to show legislators and staff the potential impact of the penalty. The spreadsheet reports the impact of losing two years of state aid increases (for 2015-16 and 2016-17). It goes beyond prior versions by including the budgeted 2016-17 spending levels that districts submitted on their property tax report cards and what the aid loss would represent as a percentage of the proposed budget. For several small cities, the aid loss would equate to a 6, 7, or 8 percent budget cut. For all districts subject to budget votes, the impact averages to a 3.7 percent budget cut.
 
I have made two points about the magnitude of the potential aid loss:
  1. If districts misses the deadline, some would not be able to wait until action on the next state budget to begin taking the local steps needed to absorb such large budget cuts. Some would likely feel pressure to send out layoff notices early in the school year
  2. The impact of the potential aid loss is so great that districts will feel impelled to make undesirable compromises on APPR, or collective bargaining issues, or both. This dynamic with the original 2013 deadline led to some of the flaws in APPR plans that provoked the Governor to seek last year's changes in the APPR law.
I have heard from superintendents that they expect the vast majority of districts will do whatever it takes to meet the deadline. But as of last week, 123 districts had approved plans − only two more than in March − and another 30 or so districts had submitted plans to the State Education Department for review. I would have expected more progress.
 
I have told legislators and staff that there are districts where the administration and unions are working collaboratively to assemble the plans, but the law is so flawed that the superintendents say these are essentially compliance exercises with little bearing on improving instruction.
 
We may be doing a call to action requesting superintendents to contact their Assembymembers and Senators.
Governor's Task Force to Combat Heroin

Two weeks ago, Governor Cuomo appointed a task force to study the heroin and opioid abuse epidemic and make recommendations to combat it.  The Task Force includes Roxbury Superintendent Thomas O'Brien. 
 
Tom would greatly appreciate input from superintendents, especially on these points:
  1. Are there substance abuse prevention programs that you are aware of that you would consider to be a best practice that is being implemented in your school or community?
  2. If you have substance abusers, particularly opium based abusers, in your district please describe any promising reintegration strategies that you have witnessed to keep the student in school and clean?
  3. What specific professional development needs would your district need to help combat this plague?
  4. What roadblocks do you think you might encounter or are encountering implementing a prevention and recovery/reintegration program beyond financial roadblocks as that is already understood?


Regents Actions and Discussions

The Board of Regents conducted their monthly meeting last week.

Here are some of the significant presentations and discussion items: The amendments to the APPR regulations go into effect June 4.  The cover memo says they are intended to give districts and BOCES additional flexibility.  There is at least one change, however, which is a step backward; it would "clarify that teacher and principal improvement plans shall be subject to collective bargaining to the extent required under Article 14 of the Civil Service Law [the Taylor Law]."  Frankly, however, this change does appear to make the regulations more consistent with what the law itself actually requires. I presume the Education Department will be issuing some guidance on the changes.

Senate Majority Releases Report on Workforce Development
 

This week the NYS Senate released a report on workforce readiness which could have an impact on school programming.  Below is a description from law firm Hinman Straub:
 
On Tuesday, the Senate Workforce Development Task Force released its report that includes recommendations for the state to help improve employee readiness; better meet the workforce needs of private sector employers; connect job seekers with potential employers; retrain those who have lost jobs. The task force's recommendations are directed is breaking down stigmas associated with students going through vocational programs rather than through academic higher education.
 
The Task Force’s recommendations include:
 
  • cultivating forward-looking employment data from the state Department of Labor so that employers and educators can better predict future workforce needs and career opportunities;
  • investing $23 million to continue and expand P-TECH schools;
  • increasing access to career and tech programs at BOCES;
  • -increasing access to continuing adult education programs at BOCES;
  • investing $12 million to continue and expand early college high schools; , and Make Them – improving participation in apprenticeships by promoting coordination between school guidance counselors and local building trades councils;
  • increasing funding for the Next Generation Job Linkage Program and enacting the Help Individuals Reach Employment (HIRE) program; and
  • establishing new degree or certificate programs based on future regional industry needs.
 
NYSED Office of Accountability News
 
Amendment to the Rules of the Board of Regents Relating to Annual Professional Performance Reviews (APPR) for Classroom Teachers and Building Principals
 
At its May 2016 meeting, the Board of Regents adopted amendments to §§30-2.3, 30-3.3, 30-3.4, 30-3.5, 30-3.11, and 30-3.13 of the Rules of the Board of Regents, relating to the Annual Professional Performance Reviews (APPR) of classroom teachers and building principals.
 
The adopted APPR amendment seeks to provide districts and BOCES with greater flexibility in implementing the provisions of Education Law §3012-d and Subpart 30-3 of the Rules of the Board of Regents. The amendments specified:
  • That transition scores and calculated ratings be provided to teachers and principals no later than September 1st.
  • The measures that will be used in the student performance category of a teacher’s evaluation.
  • That each subcomponent of the observation category be evaluated on a 1-4 scale based on a State-approved rubric aligned to the New York State teaching standards.
  • The measures that must be used in the student performance category of a principal’s evaluation.
  • The measures that are available in the student performance category.
  • That each school visit be evaluated based on a state-approved rubric aligned to the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) standards.
  • That teacher and principal improvement plans be subject to collective bargaining to the extent required under Article 14 of the Civil Service Law.
The adopted APPR amendment will become effective, as an emergency rule, on Tuesday, June 14, 2016.
 
The May 2016 Regents item regarding the amendment to the rules of the Board of Regents relating to the APPR for classroom teachers and building principals can be found at:http://www.regents.nysed.gov/common/regents/files/516p12a1.pdf.
 
                                                                                                                                                        Proposed Amendment Relating to the Methodology that School Districts will use Identify Students in Grades 3-8 Who Receive Academic Intervention Services
 
At its April 2016 meeting, the Board of Regents discussed a proposed amendment to subdivision (ee) of section 100.2 of the Commissioner’s Regulations relating to the methodology that school districts will use to identify students in grades 3 - 8 who receive academic intervention services (AIS).
 
Based on feedback from key stakeholders on implementation of AIS, the Department made recommendations for revisions to the current methodology for identification of students required to participate in AIS in the 2016-17 school year and beyond.
 
Stakeholder recommendations are that the Board of Regents amend Commissioner’s Regulations to include a two-step process for determining student eligibility for AIS in grades 3 - 8 ELA and mathematics. For more information about the two step process please review the April 2016 Regents Item at:http://www.regents.nysed.gov/common/regents/files/416p12d1.pdf.
 
Following a 45-day public comment period, it is anticipated that the proposed rule will be presented for adoption at the July 2016 meeting.
 
The April 2016 Regents Item regarding the methodology school districts will use to identify students in Grades 3-8 who receive academic intervention services can be found at:
http://www.regents.nysed.gov/common/regents/files/416p12d1.pdf.
 
The presentation entitled “Academic Intervention Services” can be found at:http://www.regents.nysed.gov/common/regents/files/Academic%20Intervention%20Services%20p12d1.pdf.
 
Update on Computer-Based Testing
 
At the both the April 2016 and May 2016 Regents Meetings, the P-12 Education Committee provided the Board of Regents with updates on New York State’s transition to computer-based testing starting in the 2015-16 academic year.
 
Department staff provided updates on:
  • Computer-based New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA) and the Grades 3-8 ELA and math computer-based field tests for public schools, charter schools, and non-public schools.
  •  Grades 3-8 ELA and math computer-based field tests for public schools, charter schools and non-public schools, specifically focusing on readiness and preparation.
 
Department staff will continue to support districts and schools in the transition to computer-based tests as part of the long-term strategy to move more testing online. The Department’s goal is to move toward the use of innovative, technology enhanced items and a quick return of test scores to educators, students, and their parents.
 
The April 2016 Regents item regarding computer-based testing can be found at:http://www.regents.nysed.gov/common/regents/files/416p12d2.pdf.
 
The May 2016 Regents item regarding computer-based testing can be found at:http://www.regents.nysed.gov/common/regents/files/516p12d4.pdf.
 
The April 2016 presentation “New York’s Transition to Computer-Based Testing” can be found at:
http://www.regents.nysed.gov/common/regents/files/New%20York%E2%80%99s%20Transition%20to%20Computer-Based%20Testing%20p12d2.pdf.
 
The May 2016 presentation “3-8 ELA and Math Computer-Based Field Testing” can be found at:
http://www.regents.nysed.gov/common/regents/files/P-12%203-8%20ELA%20and%20Math%20Computer-Based%20Field%20Testing.pdf.
 
Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Reauthorization and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
 
At the May 2016 meeting the Board of Regents discussed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Reauthorization and the transition to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), including requirements of the law pertaining to standards, accountability, and parent and family engagement. A strategy for involving stakeholders in development of New York’s plan was also discussed.
 
The May 2016 ESSA presentation can be found at:
http://www.regents.nysed.gov/common/regents/files/Full%20Board%20Monday%20-%20%20ESEA%20Reauthorization-Every%20Student%20Succeeds%20Act%20ESSA.pdf.
 
District Upcoming Events
 
5/30—Memorial Day—No School
6/1—All Elementary Spring Concert—7:00 pm—HS Auditorium
6/6—Facilities Committee Meeting—4:30 pm—Bus Garage; June Rocks—7:00 pm—Auditorium
6/8—Senior Awards Night—6:30 pm—Auditorium
6/9—Policy Committee Meeting—6:30 pm—CAB
Last Updated: 6/7/16
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