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Superintendent's Message
Massena Central School Board of Education Update
June 10, 2016

The Board of Education Meeting scheduled for Thursday, June 16, 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. 
Strategic Planning
At the Board meeting on Thursday, representatives of the Strategic Planning Committee will present their plan to the Board of Education.   The plan, which was created by a committee of parents, teachers, students, Board members, administrators, and community members, is attached to the Board agenda.  We anticipate that the vision, mission, core beliefs and areas of priority that are central to this plan will guide our decision-making in the years ahead.  If acceptable to the Board, we can begin implementation in the fall of 2016.
Below are the school community members who served on the Strategic Planning Committee. We appreciate their time and perspectives.
Peter Bertrand Food Service Director
Robin Boutot President, MCSEA/Guidance Secretary
Sarah Boyce Principal, Massena High School
John Boyce Board of Education
Patrick Brady Superintendent of Schools
Shelley Carroll Elementary Teacher, Nightengale Elem.
Dee Cook Teacher, Jefferson Elementary School
Raechel Davis High School Student
Donnita Firnstein Nightengale Elementary Parent
David Frary Community Representative
Aaron and Josie Hardy – shared apt Madison Elementary Parent Representatives
Adrienne Hartman Madison Elementary Teacher
Jason Hendricks Business Representative
Amy Hornung Principal, Nightengale Elementary School
Susan Lambert Director, Special Services
Nathan Lashomb Business Representative
John Murray Community Representative
Jan Normile High School Teacher
Alan Oliver Principal, Madison Elementary School
Abbie Paquin High School Student
Burt Peck Jr. High Principal
Duane Richards Principal, Jefferson Elementary School
Rhonda Rodriguez Board of Education Member
Anne Root Jr. High School Teacher
Allen Rowledge MBAA President/Director of Trans.
Becky Smoke Parent Representative
Jeff Stenlake High School Principal Representative
Dak Zaza Representative, MFT

Bids for Jr. High Capital Project
The bid opening for the JW Leary Junior High capital outlay project will be held on June 14th at 1:00 pm at the Central Office Building.  As you know, the scope of the project is continued removal of asbestos floor tile as well as mag lock door replacement. A contractor’s meeting was held on June 6th to allow for tours of the scope area.  This was followed by a Facilities Committee meeting where Mike Lahey of March Associates discussed the $100,000 project.  Due to our earlier start of the process this year and SED approval on May 25th, we are ahead of schedule and hopefully will not interfere with preparations for the start of school in September. 
The bids will be placed on the Board agenda for approval. The doors are an alternate so we can try to have flexibility in selection depending on the bid prices.
MOA with St. Regis Mohawk Tribe
The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe is applying for a federal grant to improve preparation of our Native American students for higher education and selected careers. The focus will be on students in Grades 7-12 and will include such strategies as educational advocacy, after school tutoring, and school social work.  The four year grant could provide up to $1 million dollars per year for this collaboration between the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe and the Massena Central School District.
Attached to the Board agenda is the Memorandum of Agreement which outlines the responsibilities of both parties.  It also includes the stated goals toward improving college and career readiness. A resolution to approve the MOA is attached to the BOE agenda.
Special Education Goals
  • One of our District goals this year is to "Maximize the instructional and financial efficiency of services for students with disabilities."  The objectives to accomplish this goal included:
  • Review special education service of school psychology to determine efficiency of current model.
  • Study current model of providing 12:1:1 services to High School Students.
  • Analyze the special education budget to insure maximum efficiency while serving students in their Least Restrictive Environment.
  • Create an efficient, effective and consistent system of records scanning and retention in the special education office. 
At the Board meeting on Thursday, Director of Special Education Susan Lambert will discuss progress on these goals.  The goals are attached to the BOE agenda for your review.
Five-Year Plan
One of our District goals this year is to "Develop plans to prepare for capital improvement projects to enhance school programming, health, and safety, security, and energy efficiency."  The objectives to accomplish this goal included:
  • Update Building Condition Survey and Five Year Plan.
  • Develop and begin implementation of a $100,000 Capital Outlay Project. Begin the development of the next capital improvement project. 
At the Board meeting on Thursday, Director of Operation Bill Seguin will discuss progress on these goals.  The goals are attached to the BOE agenda for your review.
Annual Professional Performance Review
One of our District goals this year is to "Recertify Annual Professional Performance Revisions (APPR) for teacher and principal evaluations." To accomplish this goal we formed negotiation teams to work with the Massena Federation of Teachers and Massena Building Administrators Association as APPR is subject to collective bargaining.  Meanwhile, the state legislature and State Education Department continued to make changes to the law as districts worked to transition from evaluation requirements under 3012c to the new 3012d. This included an extension of the hardship waivers so districts were given until September 1, 2016 to have the new 3012d plans in place.  At this time we have restarted negotiations with the MFT and are waiting on dates to do the same with the MBAA. 
One of the critical concerns with this process has been the threat that if districts do not have an SED approved evaluation plan by 9/1/16 then it would lose an increase in state aid in both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years.  Since the plans are required to be collectively bargained, this requirement has placed school districts in a difficult position.  Advocacy groups such as NYSBBA and NYSCOSS have been working with the legislature to remove this drastic provision from the law.  Here is the latest update from NYSCOSS Deputy Director Bob Lowry. The potential loss to Massena is over $2 million.

Call to Action – Movement on APPR Aid Penalty
Last week, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said it was likely his chamber would put forward legislation to end the link between School Aid and implementation of new teacher and principal evaluation plans and said he has had conversations with Senate leadership on the issue.

Yesterday, Assembly Education Committee Chair Catherine Nolan introduced a bill  accomplish that goal. Her bill would provide that districts would retain eligibility for School Aid increases through 2018-19 so long as they conduct Annual Professional Performance Reviews of their teachers and principals using a plan approved by the State Education Department Under either the latest APPR law (Education Law, section 3012-d) or its predecessor (3012-c).
The Assembly bill is close to what we, NYSSBA, NYSUT and others advocated for back in March as part of the state budget negotiations.
We encourage you to call your legislators and ask them to support legislation to decouple eligibility for state aid increases from teacher and principal evaluation plans; add that Assembly bill 10569 introduced by Cathy Nolan would achieve that goal.
To reach Senators, call 518-455-2800 and ask to be connected to your Senator's office.
To reach Assembly members, call 518-455-4100 and ask to be connected to his or her office.
The School Boards Association is doing a similar call to action.
A key theme we have stressed is that it is inconceivable that students would be hurt more by having their teachers evaluated using a plan previously approved by the State Education Department than by having their schools lose two years of state aid increases.
We have also said that the aid threat pushes districts into making undesirable compromises to meet the deadline.
Here is our memorandum in support of decoupling aid and evaluations.
Here is a table showing what the potential aid loss could mean for districts. The table incorporates data from the Property Tax Report card to illustrate what the aid loss would mean as a percentage reduction in the proposed district budget.
As the law stands now, districts face the loss of two years of state aid increases (for 2015-16 and 2016-17) if they do not have Annual Professional Performance Review plans approved by the State Education Departments in compliance with the new law (Education Law section 3012-d).
The bill text and sponsor's memo are available here.
Earlier, one legislative contact suggested the alternative of pushing back the approval deadline to next December. I urged against this, saying the it would mean the issue would fester longer for both schools and elected officials (throughout the legislative election season) and that districts and employees should not be put in the position of changing evaluation practices in the middle of the school year. We have also argued against just amending section 3012-d to address problematic parts -- that would amount to changing the rules, once again, while districts are in negotiations.
As of last week, 136 districts and BOCES had approved plans (up seven from the week before) and 68 had submitted plans (up nine from the week before).
Massena Recreation Bus Request - August 9, 2016

We have a bus request on the Board agenda from the Massena Joint Recreation Commission to provide district transportation to a water park near Ottawa on August 9th.  These annual requests, which involve District students, have been supported previously through BOE resolution.  The item is on for Board action at the meeting on Thursday.

SeaComm Donation to JW Leary Jr. High School - $250
Recently, the SeaComm Federal Credit Union donated $250 to JW Leary Junior High School.  These funds are targeted to be used for the poverty simulation which was held on April 29th at the school. Per BOE policy, the donation is on the Board agenda for review and approval.  We want to thank the SeaComm Federal Credit Union for their generous donation and continued support for our District programs.
Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Grants to Elementary Schools
In May, we received notification that all three of our elementary schools were funded under the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Grant.  This one year grant totaled over $13,000 and will be used to support the Math and Movement project currently underway in each elementary school.  We greatly appreciate the support from Lowes and ask that the BOE officially accept these donations at Thursday's meeting. Below is a breakdown of the grant funding per building:
  • Jefferson School - $4,600
  • Madison School - $4,300
  • Nightengale School - $4,500                 
Instructional Support Position

This year, the District took a step forward with improving instruction through technology by employing LOTE teacher Catherine Donahue to support our staff.  Catherine has a strong background in the field and was given some duty free time and stipend to model various technologies with staff in all five buildings.  Attached is a report which describes the scope of work completed.  The position is on the personnel list for continued inclusion in 2016-17.
Teacher Mentoring Program

At the Board meeting, I would like to discuss a proposal to formalize a teacher mentoring program.  Districts are required by Commissioner’s Regulations to provide mentoring to certified personnel who are their first year of teaching.  Given that we have many new staff this year it would be a prime opportunity to revisit this issue. I will send a separate e-mail on the proposal and place the documents in the executive session folder.
Other News
Albany Update

Below is an update from NYSCOSS Deputy Director Bob Lowry in regard to some end of legislative session developments:

End of Session Issues
This is the next-to-last scheduled week of the 2016 session of the State Legislature.

One issue that appears certain to be addressed in the next two weeks is a requirement for school districts and BOCES to test for lead in drinking water systems. Today legislators and environmental and health advocates held a press conference to push a proposal to require all districts to test their water systems.  State aid would be provided to offset part of the testing cost. The sponsors believe costs for remediation found needed would be supported through Building Aid.

The School Boards Association, BOCES, buildings and grounds officials, and we have urged incorporating any new mandates into existing state requirements such as school building condition surveys, as well as assuring state aid for the testing and any required remedial work. We have also cautioned that imposing a requirement for all schools to be tested within the same time frame using the same pool of state-approved authorities could result in testing delays and increased costs.

Also probable to be enacted are actions to combat heroin and opioid abuse. Both the Governor and Senate convened task forces to conduct public listening sessions and develop recommendations. Some provisions affecting schools are likely to be included.

A bill to raise the cap on BOCES superintendent salaries is on the Senate floor, ready to be passed by that chamber, as it was a year ago.  The bill has not moved in the Assembly, however. A bill to streamline the process for filling vacancies on BOCES boards has already passed both houses and is awaiting action by the Governor this week.

The biggest legislative issue in education is the extension of mayoral control of the New York City school system. The Assembly passed a three-year extension; over the weekend, the Senate introduced a bill to extend mayoral control by one year and to establish a Governor-appointed state inspector general for the City schools. Governor Cuomo has said he opposes the Senate proposal and supports a three-year extension.

New SED Guidance on Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) and Registration Requirements

The State Education Department has released guidance on the new Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) and registration requirements enacted as part of last year's state budget.

In broad terms, the law created two sets of requirements.

First, commencing with the 2016-17 school year, all educators holding any of the following certificates must register with the Department every five years in order to practice in New York State public school district or BOCES:
  • permanent or professional teaching certificate in the classroom teaching service,
  • permanent or professional leader certificate in the educational leadership service (i.e., school building leader, school district leader, school district business leader), or a Level III Teaching Assistant certificate.
"Practice" is defined as employed 90 days or more during a school year by a single applicable school in New York in a position requiring certification. 

For persons already holding permanent or professional certification, they will be required to complete initial registration by the month of their birth commencing after July 1, 2016.  For example, if your birthday is in July you would be required to register next month; if your birthday is this month, you would be required to register for the first time in June 2017.  Persons newly certified after July 1. 2016 will automatically be registered. Then, all persons would re-register every five years in their birthday month.

Second, the new law requires holders of professional certificates in classroom teaching service or educational leadership service and holders  of a Level III Teaching  Assistant  certificate  (but  not  holders  of  permanent  certificates)  who  are  practicing to complete 100 hours of Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) during each five year registration  period.  This  is  a  change  from  the  current  requirement  of  175  hours  for  those  who  hold professional  certificates  and  from  75  to  100  hours  for  those  who  hold  a  Level  III  Teaching  Assistant certificate. 

The law and regulations also change what may be counted as hours toward satisfying the requirement.

Professional development requirements do not apply to persons holding permanent certification -- persons who qualified for provisional or permanent certification in the classroom teaching service prior to February 2, 2004 or in school administration and supervision prior to September 2, 2007.

The SED guidance provides much more detailed information about these new requirements.

4 Percent Funding Increase for Special Education Programs
This afternoon, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie a 4 percent increase in reimbursement rates for special education programs, including special act school districts and "853 schools."

Here is a link to the Governor's news release.

Moving Massena Forward

The following is information from Ian Maxwell, Moving Massena Forward Coalition member who has created a Facebook page to encourage community members to join the effort:

"I made a Facebook page for MMF to act as a public forum for anyone who doesn't want        to come share their ideas at the stakeholder meetings. I'm administering the page but if any of you would like to help it would be appreciated.

I plan to share this with a few groups tonight - Visionaries, RIOT, the chamber's public calendar, etc. Feel free to like the page and share it with anyone.”


District Upcoming Events
6/16—Audit Committee Meeting—5:30 pm—HS Student Affairs Office; BOE Meeting—6:30 pm—HS Room 314
6/23—End of Year Assembly—9:00 am—HS Auditorium
6/25—HS Graduation—1:00 pm—Massena Arena
Last Updated: 6/21/16
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