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Superintendent's Message
Massena Central School Board of Education Update
October 7, 2016

 
The Board of Education Meeting for October 13, 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 an Audit Committee meeting at 6:00 pm in HS Student Affairs where Carl Seyfarth will present the external audit for 2015-16.
 
Board Vacancy

As reported recently, Bill Sommerfield has submitted a letter of resignation to the District Clerk citing personal reasons.   He will attend his last meeting on 10/13. We want to express our appreciation for Bill’s long and dedicated service to the Massena Central School District.  He was a great advocate for our students and staff.

The Board of Education will need to decide how to fill the seat left by Bill’s resignation. Below is information from my files in regard to all options for filling Board vacancies. It was provided by attorney Marc Reitz.  The most often used option by the Board has been to find a community member to fill in until the end of the school year.
 
Anytime there is a vacancy on a school board there are 3 ways in which the seat can be filled - by special election (§ 2113), by appointment by the board (§1709.17) and by appointment by the District Superintendent (you) if the position is not filled within 90 days of the date of the vacancy (§2113). In some instances, depending on the working relationship of the Board and the timing of the resignation, Boards have left the seat vacant until the next election. While this is not a prescribed option, I am unaware of any instance in which this decision has been challenged.
 
Special election
 
If the Board elects to hold a special election, notice must be published 4 times and the Legal Notice must address the issue of filing a petition 30 days prior to the election. The person who wins the election is elected for the remainder of the term of the person who vacated the Board. Thus if the terms are 3 year terms and the person who resigns had two years remaining on the term, the person elected serves the remaining 2 years.
 
Board Appointment
 
This is the mechanism most commonly used to fill a vacancy. There is no prescribed method for selecting the person to be appointed, but among the means used by other boards are the following:
 
  1. Appointing a former Board member so there is someone with experience who can step right in;
  2. Selecting someone who has been active in other school related activities - e.g. a community budget committee;
  3. Advertising and asking interested candidates to submit a written summary of why they would like to serve on the Board of Education;
  4. Seeking out a candidate who is believed to be a good future Board member.
 
Whoever is appointed to the vacancy only serves through the next annual meeting. At the annual meeting the seat must be up for election for the balance of the original term. If the candidates in that particular school district run for a specific seat, then one of the seats must be advertised as being for the remainder of the term while any other seat is for the full term.
 
If the candidates run at large, the person(s) with the highest vote totals get the full term seat(s) and the person with the next highest vote total gets the short term seat. Thus if there are 5 candidates and there are 2 full term seats and 1 short term seat, the 2 highest vote totals get the full terms, and the person with the 3rd highest total gets the short term.
 
Whether the candidates run for specific seats, or at large, whoever is elected to the short term seat takes office right after the annual meeting and not on July 1 when the full terms are filled.
 
If the Board advertises for candidates and conducts interviews, the interviews must take place in open session. We believe that discussions about who to select can take place in executive session and then the appointment must be made in open session. We are aware that Bob Freeman from the Committee on Open government believes that the discussion about who to appoint should be in open session, rather than executive session, (and there is a lower court case so holding) but we believe that a fair interpretation of the Open Meetings Law permits the discussion to take place in executive session.
 
Appointment by the District Superintendent
 
While this is legally permissible I have never seen it happen. Most DS's strongly encourage the school board to select the method or person to fill the vacancy. When Alan Pole was DS at DCMO he came very close to making an appointment where there was a 3-3 split among the remaining Board members and accomplishing any business was difficult since on many issues there was not a majority vote to enact a resolution. Finally Alan met with the board to urge them to fill the vacancy and eventually gave the board a deadline to make an appointment which they eventually did 1 day before he would have made the appointment. If you ultimately have to make the appointment it is only until the annual meeting at which time they must elect someone for the remainder of the term.
 
School Board Recognition Week
 
Though School Board Recognition Week is later in the month, we would like to take a moment at this meeting to recognize the dedicated efforts of our Board of Education.  Sometimes it can be a tough and thankless job, especially with the many challenges of our time, but our members have shown great perseverance in the face of this adversity.  On behalf of the Massena community, we thank you for your service.
 
John Boyce, President
Patrick Bronchetti, Vice-President
Ron Faucher
Loren Fountaine
Paul Haggett
Lorie MacKenzie                
Kevin Perretta
Jason Premo
William Sommerfield
 
Introduction of New Employees
 
We are pleased to present three new employees to the Board of Education at Thursday’ meeting. All will attend the meeting to be introduced.
 
Danielle Chapman, Principal of Madison Elementary School
  • Graduate of Massena CSD
  • BA Elem. Ed. (1996) SUNY Potsdam
  • MS Elem. Ed. (2001) SUNY Potsdam
  • Earned School Building Leader Certificate (2016) Saint Lawrence University
  • Elementary Teacher at Salmon River 1997--2012
  • Instructional Specialist at Salmon River 2012-16
  • Dean of Students at Salmon River Middle School  2015-16 

Gavin Regan, Athletic Director
  • Graduate of Potsdam CSD
  • BS Business Administration (1984) Norwich University
  • ING Financial Advisor 1992-2011
  • Key Bank Manager 2012-15
  • Vice President of New York State Amateur Hockey Association 1990-2002
  • Team Leader USA Women’s Hockey Team 2005-06
  • New York District Director USA Hockey, Inc. 1996-2014 
  • Vice President & International Chair, USA Hockey 2014-P 

Tracey Supernault, Human Resource Assistant
  • Graduate of Massena CSD
  • BS Business SUNY Potsdam
  • Case Manager, Massena Memorial Hospital 2015-16
  • Sales Associate & Co-Manager, Express 2005-2015 

Google Summit
 
On Friday, our District hosted a Google Summit where over 400 educators from around the region came to Massena to network and enhance their technology skills.  Attached to the Board agenda is a list of the available workshops which encompassed all things Google—classroom, maps, sheets, glass and many more.  It was an excellent opportunity and would not have been possible without the dedicated efforts of our staff. I want to thank Director of Curriculum Stephanie Allen for spearheading the event along with Patti Fisher of the St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES. I also want to thank:
  • NYSCATE and Carmalita Seitz for organizing the event including the trainers
  • Director of Technology Mike Allen & staff for organizing the technology and ensuring over 600 devices would have wifi capabilities
  • Director of Operations Bill Seguin & staff for set-up, parking, and clean-up
  • Director of Food Service Peter Bertrand  and his staff for delicious refreshments and lunch
  • Our clerical staff for assisting with registering over 400 people in one hour
  • Jon Hunkins for music and sound preparations
  • Our administrative team for their participation and support. 
We also had the honor of hosting Regent Bev Ouderkirk and Chancellor Betty Rosa.  They attended some of the sessions and Chancellor Rosa addressed the group at lunch.  Reportedly, it has been over 20 years since a sitting chancellor visited our region.  We were all thrilled to have Dr. Rosa at Massena Central.
 
Here is a Courier Observer article about the event.
Here is a WWNY News report.
 
Massena Central School District Safety Plan - Alan Oliver
 
Recent changes in Education Law §§ 2801-a, and 807 related to school emergency response planning requires school districts to make some changes this year in their safety plans and staff training. This was followed by amendments to Commissioner’s regulation § 155.17 to conform to the legislative changes in the aforementioned laws.  Specifically the law requires schools to:
  • adopt or amend district-wide school safety plans and building-level emergency response plans each school year. 
  • submit building-level emergency response plans to the New York State Police and local law enforcement within 30 days of adoption. Beginning in fall 2016, schools will have the ability to submit their Building-Level Emergency Response Plan to the New York State Police via an automated application accessed through the NYSED Business Portal.  The automated collection of Building-Level Emergency Response Plans from schools will allow the New York State Police to distribute the plans to troopers and other law enforcement in a consistent and comprehensive manner statewide, and when fully implemented, will eliminate the need for schools to submit to both State and local law enforcement. 
  • provide staff with annual school safety and school violence prevention training that also includes training in mental health. 
District Safety Committee Chair Alan Oliver will provide further details at the Board meeting on Thursday.  Attached to the Board agenda is the draft District-wide Safety Plan. It will be on the November agenda for adoption by the BOE.
 
Field Trip Request for JW Leary - Washington, DC - May 2017 - Alan Oliver
 
Recently revised BOE Policy 8461 Overnight Trips requires the administration to inform the BOE of student trips which will require overnight accommodations.  Accordingly, JW Leary Junior High Principal Alan Oliver will be presenting information about the Grade 7-8 trip to Washington DC in the spring.  Attached to the BOE agenda is the submitted field trip request form for your review.  Further details will be discussed at the meeting.
 
Lions Club Vision Screening Program
 
As you may be aware, a central focus of the Lion's Club has been the prevention of blindness and the overall preservation of eye sight.  This interest began in 1925 when Helen Keller addressed the Lions at their international convention and urged them to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.” Since then, Lions have become renowned worldwide for their efforts to improve sight, prevent blindness and other visual impairment, and improve eye health and eye care for millions of people around the world.
 
Each year the Massena Lion's Club provides vision screening for Pre-K and Kindergarten students.  We have received the request for 2016-17 and have added to the Board of Education agenda.
 
Instrument Trading Program - Music Department
 
Music Department Chair Jon Hunkins recently requested that the District allow for the trading in of old musical instruments to obtain newer ones though a company called "One Man Band" (http://theonemanband.us/). Mr. Hunkins cites a couple of local districts who have successfully used the company for this purpose as well as a references who point to the company’s experience with thousands of schools across the country. Mr. Hunkins anticipates being able to obtain about a half dozen high cost instruments with our trade-ins (Bass trombone, Bari Saxophone, Baritone horns, etc...)  This could save the District thousands of dollars and clean out unused inventory that takes up storage space.  It could also get instruments in students’ hands that we are currently not able to supply due to lack of instruments and increased student numbers.

Board Policy 5250 Sale & Disposal of School District Property governs our process in such situations.  The policy requires the Board to pass a resolution to deem the equipment unneeded for school purposes.  Attached to the agenda is a list with the quantity, type of instrument, and approximate age.  I am recommending that the Board pass a resolution to declare the items unneeded so they can be traded in.  As can be seen from the list, the instruments are decades old and have been well used.

MOA with the MFT - Adds WEB Program to the Contract
 
At the last BOE meeting, we had a presentation from the Where Everyone Belongs (WEB) program which is a Junior High initiative to help transition new 7th graders through many team building activities.  Led by teachers Christine Sweet and Wendy Lashomb, the WEB Leaders (8th grade mentors) organize orientation in late summer and a variety of events throughout the school year. For the last four years, the advisors have established the program without monetary compensation. Given its established importance to our JH students, I am requesting that this program be added to the Massena Federation of Teachers contract at a Level A. I have attached both the WEB proposal and draft Memorandum of Agreement to the Board agenda for your review.
 
Grant Funds - Senator Ritchie - $6,000
 
State Senator Patty Ritchie has allocated $6,000 in bullet aid to the Massena CSD for 2016-17.  Specifically the letter from Senator Ritchie earmarks the funding for Link Crew and football uniforms. We appreciate the Senator’s contribution and continued support for public education.
 
Other News
 
NYS Department of Health Flu Information
 

The following is a Q&A from the NYS Department of Health in regard to keeping kids safe during flu season.  I have reprinted it for our parents.
 
Question: Is the flu more serious for kids?
 
Response: Infants and young children are at greater risk for getting seriously ill from the flu. That’s why the New York State Department of Health recommends that all children 6 months and older get the flu vaccine.
 
Question: Can the Flu vaccine save lives?
 
Response: Most people with the flu are sick for about a week, and then they feel better. But, some people, especially young children, pregnant women, older people, and people with chronic health problems can get very sick. Some can even die. An annual vaccine is the best way to protect your child from the flu. The vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months and older every year.
 
Question: What is the flu?
 
Response: The flu, or influenza, is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs. The flu can spread from person to person.
 
Question: Who needs the flu shot?
 
Response:
• Flu shots can be given to children 6 months and older.
• Children younger than 9 years old who get a vaccine for the first time need two doses.

Question: How else can I protect my child?
 
Response:
• Get the flu vaccine for yourself.
• Encourage your child’s close contacts to get the flu vaccine, too. This is very important if your child is younger than 5, or if he or she has a chronic health problem such as asthma (breathing disease) or diabetes (high blood sugar levels). Because children under 6 months can’t be vaccinated, they rely on those around them to get an annual flu vaccine.
• Wash your hands often and cover your coughs and sneezes. It’s best to use a tissue and quickly throw it away. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands. This will prevent the spread of germs.
• Tell your children to:
• Stay away from people who are sick;
• Clean their hands often;
• Keep their hands away from their face, and
• Cover coughs and sneezes to protect others.
 
Question: What are signs of the flu?
 
Response: The flu comes on suddenly. Most people with the flu feel very tired and have a high fever, headache, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and sore muscles. Some people, especially children, may also have stomach problems and diarrhea. The cough can last two or more weeks.
 
Question: How does the flu spread?
 
Response: People who have the flu usually cough, sneeze, and have a runny nose. The droplets in a cough, sneeze or runny nose contain the flu virus. Other people can get the flu by breathing in these droplets or by getting them in their nose or mouth.
 
Question: How long can a sick person spread the flu to others?
 
Response: Most healthy adults may be able to spread the flu from one day before getting sick to up to 5 days after getting sick. This can be longer in children and in people who don’t fight disease as well (people with weaker immune systems).
 
Question: What should I use to clean hands?
 
Response: Wash your children’s hands with soap and water. Wash them for as long as it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. If soap and water are not handy, use a hand sanitizer. It should be rubbed into hands until the hands are dry.
 
Question: What can I do if my child gets sick?
 
Response: Make sure your child gets plenty of rest and drinks lots of fluids. Talk with your child’s doctor before giving your child over-the-counter medicine. If your children or teenagers may have the flu, never give them aspirin or medicine that has aspirin in it. It could cause serious problems.
 
Question: Can my child go to school or day care with the flu?
 
Response: No. If your child has the flu, he or she should stay home to rest. This helps avoid giving the flu to other children.
 
Question: When can my child go back to school or day care after having the flu?
 
Response: Children with the flu should be isolated in the home, away from other people. They should also stay home until they have no fever without the use of fever-control medicines and they feel well for 24 hours. Remind your child to protect others by covering his or her mouth when coughing or sneezing. You may want to send your child to school with some tissues, and a hand sanitizer, if allowed by school.
 
For more information about the flu, visit health.ny.gov/flu Or, www.cdc.gov/flu Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Follow us on: Facebook/NYSDOH Twitter/HealthNYgov
 
Upcoming Events
 
10/13—Audit Committee Meeting—6:00 pm—HS Student Affairs; BOE Meeting—6:30 pm—HS Room 316
Last Updated: 10/18/16
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