Massena Central School Board of Education Update
November 11, 2016
The Board of Education Meeting for November 17, 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.
Happy Veterans’ Day
I want to thank all of our veterans for the great duty and sacrifices they have made for our country. Please take time to honor a veteran today.
NYS Real Property Law 485-A - Michael Ward, Massena Assessor
The District has received a request from Mayor Tim Currier to pass a resolution which would provide a tax exemption to any person or corporation who is interested in converting a current commercial property into a mixed business and residential usage. This specific type of exemption is authorized under NYS Real Property Tax Law §485-a. The purpose of instituting this economic development tool in Massena is to attract investors in the downtown area. The Massena Village and Town have both passed local laws allowing for the exemption. Town Assessor Mike Ward will attend the BOE meeting to discuss the law and the background of the Village’s request. I have attached information from Mayor Currier and the Village’s local law filing to the BOE agenda. I also placed a memo from our counsel in the executive session folder.
French Club Trip to Quebec City - February 2017 - Diane Acton
The Massena High School French Club is requesting approval for an educational field trip to Quebec City in early February (2/3-5). The group will take a walking tour through the historic city visiting various museums, cathedrals, and other unique sites. They will also visit the Plains of Abraham where the famed battle of Quebec took place during the French & Indian Wars (1756-63). This is also Winter Carnival week so they will have the opportunity to take part in the festivities while practicing their Francophonic skills.
Per Board Regulation 8460R.1 Out of Country Trips, the group is seeking approval from the BOE for the trip. LOTE Teacher Diane Acton will attend the meeting on Thursday to discuss their plans. A resolution has placed on the agenda for your consideration.
Wellness Committee Report - Matt McKinley
Last year, the Massena CSD received grant funding through a program entitled, Creating Healthy Schools and Communities which is sponsored by the St. Lawrence County Health Initiative (SLCHI). It is a five year grant, funded by the New York State Department of Health, which will provide $2,500 per year to each building beginning this year and running through 2020. Other schools included in the grant are Clifton-Fine, Gouverneur, Norwood-Norfolk, and Ogdensburg Free Academy.
The purpose of this project is to address access to healthy, affordable foods and opportunities for physical activity in selected high-needs school districts and the communities where the students and their families live. Specifically, its approach is to:
In response to the grant receipt, we reorganized the District Wellness Committee which will lead the effort to set goals and implement the grant funding. The Committee is chaired by HS Health Teacher Matt McKinley and includes several teachers, administrators, and community members. This year it has been focusing on using the physical education equipment purchased through the grant, assessing our current health and wellness practices in each building and revising related district policy.
At the Board meeting on Thursday, Matt McKinley and SLCHI representative Sarah Bentley Garfinkle will attend to provide further information on the Committee's activities and plans for the future. Attached to the BOE agenda are some pictures of students using the new PE equipment purchased through the grant.
NYPA Letter and Resolution - Repurposing of Funds
As I wrote in the 10/28 BOE Update, the Local Government Task Force met on October 25th to discuss a proposal from the New York Power Authority to repurpose funding originally used for the Temporary North Country Power Discount Program. NYPA officials, including Mark Slade, Director of Licensing, attended the meeting to discuss the proposed changes to the program which currently provides lower electricity prices to farmers and businesses in St. Lawrence, Franklin and Jefferson counties. Kevin Perretta and I participated along with other representatives of the Task Force.
The New York Power Authority is recommending to repurpose the funding to communities in order to better support economic development. Currently, the $10M allotment per year for three years was earmarked to lower electrical rates for a variety of customers in the three aforementioned counties. St. Lawrence County would receive 40% of the funds which will end in spring 2018.
The new proposal would repurpose all the money to St. Lawrence County and begin a new cycle where $10M would be provided each year for 5 years. However, the funding would not be for lowering customer bills but rather to "identify, attract and facilitate the creation or expansion of businesses consistent with the St Lawrence County Economic Development Study".
Since the 10/25 Task Force meeting, the following municipalities have passed resolutions supporting the repurposing plan: Town of Massena, Village of Massena, Town of Louisville, and Village of Waddington.
Given that none of the current funding is being used in the Massena Central School District as a result of our already low cost municipal power, the repurposing concept makes more sense for us. It is additional money to our county and will support some local efforts to attract new businesses and create jobs. It also extends the window of funding to five years.
Attached to the Board agenda is the NYPA letter describing the plan along with a supporting resolution for Board action. I will discuss further at the BOE meeting.
Strategic Planning Update
This week, Sean Brady from Prism Decision Systems was back in the district working to develop objectives and action strategies for implementing our strategic plan at the building level. He met with a team at the high school on Wednesday and another group at Junior High on Thursday. Next week, he will be at each of our elementary schools. Key areas of discussion are student attendance, achievement scores, graduation rates, and the Community Schools model. At the BOE meeting on Thursday, I will update the Board on our progress in this area.
Completion of Lead Evaluator Training by D. Chapman
As a new principal, Danielle Chapman has been involved with training for evaluating teachers under the state’s Annual Professional Performance Review. She has completed this preparation and now joins the other principals as lead evaluators as designated by the BOE at the Reorganizational meeting in July.
Donation from Massena Youth Basketball Association -3 Basketball Hooks
The Massena Youth Basketball Association has donated three basketball hooks to the district for use in operating our basketball nets at the High School and Jefferson Elementary. We appreciate the donation and request that the Board officially approve the gift at Thursday’s meeting.
Bus Request - Holy Name of Jesus Academy - 12/4/16
The District has received a request from the Holy Name of Jesus Academy to loan two school buses for their use in transporting students and staff to an event at the Crane School of Music on December 4, 2016. As this request requires Board support, a resolution has been placed on the BOE agenda. The District regularly loans buses at an established cost to different organizations such as the Holy Name of Jesus.
Approval of the Massena Central School District Safety Plan and Building Safety Plans
At the October, Board of Education meeting, District Safety Committee Chair Alan Oliver presented our updated District Safety Plan. Per Commissioner’s Regulation § 155.17, the plan was then posted to the webpage to allow for public input. We are now requesting that the Board approve the plan along with the building level plans that have also been updated. The District Safety Plan has been attached to the BOE agenda and I have placed the Jefferson Elementary Building Plan in the executive session folder as an example of a building plan. Since all schools are required to use the same template, the Jefferson plan is consistent with all others. The main difference would be the locations used for sheltering during evacuation. The building plans are confidential, hence placement in the executive session folder.
Massena Boys & Girls Club Sponsor College Prep Event for Students & Parents
Massena students and their families are invited to attend a special college-prep event at the Massena High School Auditorium, Thursday, Nov 17 at 6 pm. St. Lawrence University students will be speaking about their college experience as well as their involvement with CSTEP, McNair Scholars, and other funding programs they are using to finance their college education. The SLU student panel will share what inspired them to select their majors, what obstacles they had to overcome and what their long-term goals are after graduation. They welcome questions from our students following the presentation.
NYSCOSS Survey Shows Unpredictable Revenues Tops Budget Concerns for School Chiefs
The following is information from NYSCOSS Deputy Director Bob Lowry on a recently released survey of state school superintendents.
ALBANY – “Something has to give,” warns a new report on school finance from the New York State Council of School Superintendents.
In its sixth annual survey of school district leaders across the state, the Council found that three years of state aid increases averaging over 6 percent per year have had a positive impact for many school systems, but concern about future financial prospects remains widespread.
Asked to look ahead three years, only 20 percent of superintendents expressed optimism about the ability of their district to fund services adequate to the needs of their students. Seventy-three percent answered that they are very or somewhat pessimistic and 6 percent said their districts are unable now to fund adequate services, the equivalent of about 40 school districts statewide.
Council Executive Director Charles Dedrick explained, “What is driving the concern is a sense that district leaders and voters can’t control the financial fates of their schools.” He added, “As we note in the report, ‘The state’s basic structure of education finance puts schools in a potentially unsustainable position, required to accommodate costs they cannot control with revenues they can no longer presume will materialize.'”
The report stresses that state policies help drive school costs while restricting the ability to raise revenue to support those costs and that if the state intends to keep these rules, it must fund them with adequate state aid increases.
Four factors stood out as causes for concern, led by the possibility of inadequate state aid, cited by 91 percent of superintendents, followed closely by the tax cap, named by 89 percent of superintendents. Increasing student needs were identified by 78 percent of superintendents and 76 percent named increases in fixed or hard to control costs such as pensions and health insurance as concerns.
State aid has been unpredictable for some time, sensitive to both changing economic prospects and political priorities. After two years of an intended four-year phase-in, the Foundation Aid formula enacted as a major reform in 2007 was frozen for three years and only minimally increased several years thereafter.
The state’s property tax cap for schools has proven unstable as well. Although advertised as a “2 percent tax cap,” the actual cap floats based on consumer inflation and factors specific to each district. The basic tax cap for the current school year is 0.12 percent. The cap for 2017-18 is likely to be around 1 percent.
The report notes that the number of students in poverty statewide has risen by 11 percent since 2007, and the number for whom English is not their first language has increased by 20 percent.
The contribution rate that school districts are required to pay for pension costs has been declining in recent years, but the survey reports what superintendents identify as leading financial concerns for their schools, pension costs rank high, and mandated contribution rates will rise again at some point.
The Council’s survey did find that more superintendents reported their districts’ financial condition has improved (31 percent) rather than worsened (16 percent) this year, continuing a trend first identified in its survey a year ago. An increased share of superintendents also reported improvements in specific student services.
But Council Deputy Director Robert Lowry warned, “It’s important to recognize that in every one of our six annual surveys, at least two-thirds of superintendents said that there had been either no change or a worsening in the financial condition of their schools over the prior year. So there are probably many schools that were hurt badly by cuts during the Great Recession and have seen little or no improvement since.”
He added, “A commonly expressed fear among superintendents has been that students of the future might never again have opportunities matching those of the past.”
In the Council’s first financial survey, in 2011, 75 percent of superintendents said that the financial condition of their schools had worsened over the prior year; only 2 percent reported improvement.
The report includes a section on financial reserves and multi-year planning. Dedrick noted that, “State aid has always been sensitive to changes in the economy, making it unpredictable from one year to the next. The floating tax cap has now made local revenues harder to predict as well. This has changed how district leaders think about reserves – reserves are now one tool left to exert some control over a district’s financial future.”
The report concludes with a section describing resourceful actions that superintendents and their colleagues have been taking to reduce or control costs or to protect and improve opportunities for students within existing resources, as well as actions that superintendents say state government could take to promote those goals.
The survey was conducted online between August 16 and 31. A total of 361 superintendents submitted complete responses, a response rate of 54 percent.
The complete report can be found here: http://www.nyscoss.org/img/uploads/Press_Releases/2016-Finance-Survey-Report-FINAL.pdf.
Media Coverage of Council's Finance Survey Report
Alcoa Announces Official Split of Company
The following information is from Alcoa Communications & Public Affairs Manager Laurie Marr on the split of Alcoa into two separate companies. I have also attached the official press release.
I’m pleased to share with you that today Alcoa Corporation officially launched as a new, independent company. The separation from our former parent company, which is now known as Arconic Inc., provides opportunity for our investors, customers and stakeholders.
Alcoa Corporation has a global footprint with operations in 10 countries, including the U.S.. And with 16,000 talented employees across six well-positioned businesses – Bauxite, Alumina, Aluminum, Cast Products, Rolled Products and Energy – we will continue to build on our advantages across the aluminum value chain.
We are excited and ready for the future.
Thank you for your continued support of Alcoa as we move forward. I’ve attached a copy of our news release, and please feel free to reach out to me with any questions. We will gather the group together very soon and talk in more depth about what this means for our Massena location.
US Attorney’s Office Website Features Massena CSD
Kristin Colarusso-Martin of the Massena Drug Free Community Coalition recently informed us that the US Attorney’s Office has included information on their website about the Chasing the Dragon ant-opioid event we co-presented with them at the high school on September 8th. Below is a link to the information. We appreciate the work of the Coalition, Mayor’s office, and the US Department of Justice in supporting our community as we fight together against this persistent drug issue.
What Impact will President Trump Have on Public Schools?
Since this week’s surprising election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, many of us in public education have questioned how his policies will impact our nations’ schools. While this remains unclear at this early point, the New York State School Boards Association presented an article this week which examines President-Elect Trump’s previous comments on the subject.
Holiday Dessert Drive
Jefferson Elementary will be participating in our annual charity project by conducting a Holiday Dessert Drive. Starting Monday, November 14th, we will begin collecting DESSERT items for the Neighborhood Center's Christmas food distribution. They always put together a nice basket for needy families of food items for Christmas dinner. They don't usually get dessert, so here's where we come in. Students and staff members are invited to donate a dessert item: boxed desserts, baking supplies, chocolate chips, pudding, canned pie filling, etc. Our collection will continue the week of the 14th - 18th. A holiday box is placed outside each classroom door to collect the items in. Each night the Student Council will collect the food from your boxes to store until Friday pick up from the Neighborhood Center. This charity drive is coordinated by Jefferson’s second grade teacher, Mrs. Joan Bulger.
Newest Tie Club Member
Deakon Ash, Jefferson fourth grade student, is the latest student to be nominated by his teacher for the Tie Club. Deakon’s teacher, Mrs. Hewlett, is extremely proud of the choices that Deakon is making in class and all of his hard work. Keep up the great work!
Jefferson Kids Care Begins
The Jefferson Kids Care group has started meeting again on Wednesday, November 9. The group is coordinated by Mrs. Cathy Dix, Jefferson kindergarten teacher, and meets each Wednesday throughout the school year. Students in grades five and six are welcome to join this group as they knit, crochet, sew, and quilt blankets and hats. All of the items created by this group are donated to people or organizations to comfort those in need.
Lions Club Vision Screening
Vision screening was once again offered to all students in Prekindergarten, Junior Kindergarten, and Kindergarten by the Massena Lion’s Club. The screening provides a digital reading of a child’s eyes to determine the presence of Eye disorders including far and nearsightedness, astigmatism and lazy eye. The screening is about 85-90% effective in detecting problems that can cause decreases in vision. Seen below is Lions Club Member, Linda Chase, completing the screening on kindergartener Presley Cecot.
Throughout the month of November, Mrs. Michelle Lazare, Jefferson’s Native American Literacy Specialist, has arranged for Native American students to share a piece of their culture with the entire school. Each day during morning announcements, students will share a piece of knowledge over the public address system. Pictured is third grade student, Kaniehtentha Thompson, making a morning announcement assisted by Kenia Cole.
Mohawk words shared this month:
Se kon (hello)
Wa ni se ri: io (Have a nice day)
Se kon (sit down)
On: en (good bye)
Yo (thank you)
Ka na ron kwa (I love you)
bear or (oh kwa: ri’)
wolf or (okwaho)
turtle or (a’ no: wara)
Jefferson Jaguar T-Shirt Contest
Jefferson is having a contest to design a new Jaguar logo for Jefferson's school t-shirt. We are looking for a picture of one jaguar. The design can show the whole jaguar or just its face. It needs to be drawn in black and white on plain white paper (computer paper). All entries are to be submitted to Mrs. Clary by Wednesday, November 16th.
The winner will receive a free shirt with their logo design!
Items For Calendar:
Monday, Nov. 14 School Physicals
Tuesday, Nov. 15 Jefferson Strategic Planning
Thursday, Nov. 17 Jefferson Picture Retake Day
Tuesday, Nov. 22 United Cerebral Palsy “Making Friends & Kids on the Block”
Tuesday, Nov. 22 Prekindergarten Thankful Feast @ 9:45am and 1:45pm
Nov. 23-25 Thanksgiving Recess
Tuesday, Nov. 29 All Elementary Band/Orchestra Concert 7pm @ High School
Madison Elementary School
News & Notes
Madison 6th Graders Travel to the Middle East via New Technology
Sixth graders at Madison Elementary are taking exciting field trips to the Middle East this week, and then to many other spots around the world throughout the rest of the school year, to see the locations of several ancient river valley civilizations with teacher Darcie Fregoe through the use of Google Cardboard headsets. “Oh, come see this you guys! I am standing in front of the pyramids in Egypt! I didn’t know they are that big – they are Huge!!!”, one student shouted to his classmates. Street View with the headsets lets students feel as if they are actually standing in another location around the world and looking at a 360° view of it. With this technology, the learning comes to life and they gain a greater understanding of the people, the geography, and the size/perspective of things like temples and mountains, etc. It is great to take a field trip to learn about faraway places, without actually leaving the classroom.
Fourth Grade Geography
Mrs. Albert's 4th grade class finished their Geography unit with a project-based activity that required them to creatively construct, label and present a salt dough map of New York State. Students were asked to label the various cities, towns, and geographic features that make their home state a special place to live.
Bringing Vocabulary to Life
In Mrs. Hendershot’s classroom students use technology to help vocabulary become real. Mrs. Hendershot relates the vocabulary to their own lives in order to make it meaningful. In the picture, students are choosing the word that makes sense for the given scenario. If they choose the wrong word, the word they chose is acted out so that they can see why that word did not fix the problem.
Red Ribbon Week
Red Ribbon Week is the oldest and largest drug prevention campaign in the country! Red Ribbon Week serves as a vehicle for communities and individuals to take a stand for the hopes and dreams of our children through a commitment to drug prevention and education and a personal commitment to live drug free lives with the ultimate goal being the creation of drug free America. Red Ribbon is celebrated at all elementary and middle school level.
Each year we create fun and creative ways for the kids to express their knowledge of how to say No to drugs. Some examples are saying “peace out to drugs” by wearing tye dye shirts or “turn your back on drugs” by wearing our shirts backwards and then of course “outrageous red day” when all wear red to school to show their support for the greater cause. During red ribbon week the students have fun coming to school with new ways to express themselves.
Our School Counselors go into the 6th grade classes and discuss what “natural highs” are. They explain a natural high as being a “state of increase happiness and elation which has not been induced by introducing substances into the body” (www.psychologydictionary.org). For example; dancing, playing sports, drawing, reading or anything someone truly enjoys doing can be considered a natural high. They finish the lessons with a video by drugfreewave.com or naturalhigh.org. The students love the videos. The celebrities and athletes on the videos have great messages. In addition, our sixth grade students at Madison also enter drug free poems that are recorded and heard over the radio during drug free week or over the announcements during red ribbon week.
1. 11/21 K-2, Outstanding Owls @ 2:15
2. 11/22 3-6, Outstanding Owls @ 2:15
3. 11/23-27 Thanksgiving Break, No School
4. 11/29 All Elementary Band/Orchestra Concert 7pm
5. 12/6 The Who Club Parent Meeting- 7pm Madison Library
6. 12/8-12/9 Early Dismissal- Parent Conferences
News & Notes
Halloween at Nightengale-
Our 2016 Halloween Parade and Celebration. Thank you to all that come out to watch our parade! We had a beautiful fall day for our parade.
Ogdensburg Command Performance Presents--- "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Our students in grades 3-6 were invited to watch the show on November 10, 2016. The story is based on the original story by Washington Irving. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow tells the story of Tarry Town, a place where strange things happen and the townsfolk seemed entranced by spirits. It was a great performance and the children seemed to enjoy it.
Our Literacy Interventionist met with Rachelle Amo on Monday November 7th to recalibrate how we assess and monitor our students during reading. The purpose of analyzing how our students read is to:
· Determine each child’s reading strengths and needs(help plan for instruction)
· Identify each student's instructional and independent reading levels
· To set goals for student progress
These are very valuable trainings for our interventionist. It gives our interventionist time to collaborate with one another on best practices and to continue to develop goal setting processes for the three elementary buildings.
All students in grades 2-6 have access to MobyMax, at home and at school. This is a wonderful tool that students can use to practice their reading and math skills. The easy-to-navigate student dashboard lets students move independently through lessons, games, and communication features. Kids will feel motivated to master tiered lessons to earn time in the game area.
Mrs. Converse’s 6th Grade Dodecahedrons
A dodecahedron is the name given to a polyhedron made up of 12 equal pentagons. The 6th graders each made their own dodecahedron in science class. Here are some examples of their work.
Pictured: Autumn Harvey, Tori Cappiello, Jaislyn Tatro, Alex Abourjeily, Carter Firnstein
Lunch Celebrations with the Principal!!!
Mrs. Fountaine’s Super Reader
Breyden MacDonald was the first in his class to complete his 22 word list! Congratulations and keep reading!
· Parent Teacher Conferences on December 8th(12:30-3:30 & 5:00-7:00 p.m.) and December 9th(12:30-3:30)
· Nightengale PTO meeting on 11/15/16
· Popcorn Day on November 18th
JW Leary Junior High
News & Notes
J.W. Leary Junior High School students, teachers, staff take part in evacuation drill
By BOB BECKSTEAD
PUBLISHED: SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2016 AT 12:30 AM
MASSENA — With members of the Massena Central School District’s Safety Committee looking on, J.W. Leary Junior High School staff and students were tested Friday afternoon on how well they responded to an evacuation drill.
And when it was over, the answer was pretty good, according to Alan Oliver, principal at the school and chairman of the Safety Committee.
He said that from the time the alarm was tripped to the time the students returned to their classroom, they completed the task in 20 minutes.
The biggest challenge, according to Mr. Oliver, was student accountability. Each of the school’s 450 students had to be accounted for at three separate checkpoints during the drill. The final checkpoint was when, class by class, they entered the school’s gymnasium, which served as the evacuation center. Throughout the drill, administrators, staff and teachers kept in touch through radio communications to ensure all students were accounted for.
The evacuation started as a fire drill. When the alarm was pulled, teachers led their classes out of the building to designated spots around the school. As they waited for instructions, Mr. Oliver relayed information over the radio — “We need to evacuate.” At that point, all students were taken to an assembly area behind the school.
Standing in front of the school and observing the movement of the classes, Mr. Oliver said that in an actual situation, he would remain in front of the school to coordinate with responding agencies.
He would be relieved by another person, such as the superintendent, at some point and would assemble with the remainder of the school teachers, staff and students.
Through it all, members of the district’s Safety Team were on hand to see how things went.
“The district Safety Team will watch and tell us how we’re doing,” Mr. Oliver said.
They would also hold a debriefing session to go over any issues that might have popped up during the drill, he said.
While schools are required to hold a scheduled number of fire drills a year, evacuation drills are done on a three-year rotational basis.
Strategic Planning Process with Sean Brady at JW Leary
Sean Brady met with JW Leary faculty and staff on Thursday November 10 to talk about the District Strategic Plan and how it will influence our school and students. A group of 12 JW Leary staff (including teachers, a counselor, administrators and support staff) reviewed the District Strategic Plan and were asked come to a consensus as to JW Leary’s role in that plan. After a day of wonderful conversations about how to support our students and improve our school the group decided to focus on improving student attendance, creating a grade 7/8 assessment plan and improving student engagement with the school. This day of work is the start of a continuous improvement process which is aimed at making our school the best place it can be for all of our students. Our work will be shared with the rest of the faculty and staff next week and will result in immediate changes as to how we deal with the three focus areas we are working on.
Thanks to the Board of education for supporting this important process.
Jerry Manor talks to our students about financial Management
Recently, Jerry Manor of SeaComm Federal Credit Union spent the day speaking to all of Anne Roots' 7th grade family and consumer science classes. His topic was, "Financial Management for Teens" and he spoke of the importance of planning and budgeting in making money decisions. It was the start of the class, "Consumerism and Finance Unit". They then spent the next 5 classes participating in an on-line course called, "Vault" that brought money decisions to life in an interactive way and tracked their progress. More than 60% of the students went farther than required in the program and made it the Money Management, "Wall of Fame"!
Attention 7th grade Parents: If you are interested in your child participating in the 8th grade honors program next year there will be a mandatory meeting for you on the night of parent teacher conferences. At 7pm please join Mr. Oliver in the cafeteria to discuss the program and the requirements students must achieve to be eligible
11/15—Policy Committee Meeting—6:30 pm—CAB
11/17—Board of Education Meeting—6:30 pm—HS Room 316
11/23-25—Thanksgiving Break; No School
|Last Updated: 11/30/16|