Massena Central School Board of Education Update
January 27, 2017
Student Use of Technology Policy
At the last Board of Education meeting, the Policy Committee presented a new policy which promotes the use of personal electronic devices in the classroom and relaxes their use in non-instructional areas. The policy better reflects the realities of the electronic environment in which we live but maintains strict prohibitions in areas such as locker rooms and testing areas.
The announcement of this change led to an editorial in the Watertown Daily Times criticizing the move:
While this same debate has taken place in schools across the country, it is important to note that the decision to present this policy in Massena comes after considerable thought and deliberation. We reached out to schools around the region who have adopted similar policies to learn from their experience. Thirteen schools responded to my poll and all indicated they had already such a policy in place with no major issues such as an increase in cyberbullying. Secondly, The high school committee that reviewed the electronic device policy included teachers and administrators who discussed many possible consequences, both positive and negative, that would come from relaxing the policy. They then provided an opportunity for input from the rest of the staff as it was important to consider a variety of perspectives. Since the October Google Summit held at Massena CSD, the high school teachers have incorporated digital educational programs such as Padlet, Adobe Spark, Screencast, Plickers, SeeSaw and many more into their lessons. They have reported that the work they are receiving from students is higher quantity and quality. As teachers see the benefit of using technology to engage students, they are becoming more comfortable with students bringing their own devices into the classroom. For instance, personal devices such as cellphones, tablets or iPads, allow a group of 4 or 5 students to work together on a project at the same time. When one person edits or adds something in the project, it edits or adds to everyone in the group. They also allow high school students to interact with students in the junior high or elementary on writing pieces, offering advice or critique. Art students are able to connect with their art teacher and other art students 24/7 for feedback on a piece they are working on. The possibilities are endless. Finally, the few students in the class who do not own such devices or do not have them in class at the time, can share or will be able to use the Chrome Books we are purchasing with the Smart Schools Bond Act. Such a “bring your own device” policy actually saves the district funds from buying devices for everyone so we can concentrate on those who do not have them.
For more information, listed below is one of many websites which offers advice on the “bring your own device” policy. I believe that such a policy will help better prepare students for the research, collaboration, crucial thinking, and technology skills necessary for college or the workplace. Of course, such technology is only one tool for learning and needs to reinforce not reduce students reading and writing skills. That is one reason why such policy has been accompanied by the opportunity for teacher training whether it be through the Google Summit or Cathy Donahue’s work with teachers on an individual basis.
The following is further information on the Governor’s Budget proposal as presented by legal counsel Hinman Straub.
On Tuesday, Gov. Cuomo released his 2017-18 state spending plan. In break from recent practice, the Governor presented his budget plan in separate closed briefings to Assembly and Senate lawmakers at the Executive Mansion on Tuesday, followed by a broadcast of a presentation to reporters and public release later that evening.
The 2017-2018 Executive Budget proposal calls for overall state spending of $152.3 billion, a 1.9% increase over the current fiscal year. State operating fund spending would total $98 billion. The most significant aspect of the proposal appears to be a proposed three-year extension of the so-called millionaire’s tax, which is set to expire this year. The Governor is seeking to extend the top personal income tax bracket for three years. The Senate leadership has expressed initial opposition to the proposed extension, while the Assembly has indicated that it may push to increase state tax rates on high earning residents.
Other highlights of the 2017-2018 Executive Budget proposal include:
- $2 billion over five years for clean water infrastructure;
- $500 million for a second phase of the ‘Buffalo Billion’ economic development program;
- legalizing app-based ride hailing services throughout the state;
- making SUNY and CUNY tuition-free for families earning up to $125,000 annually;
- taking steps to control the rising cost of prescription drugs;
- taking further steps to address the heroin/opioid epidemic;
- a seventh round of the Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) process;
- establishing a preference for American-made products and materials in state procurement contracts;
- various criminal justice reforms, including bail reforms and raising the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18; and
- various ethics, campaign finance and procurement reforms, including limiting lawmakers’ outside income; closing the LLC loophole; an optional system of public financing of campaigns; and appointment of a Chief Procurement Officer.
The Governor has until February 16 to submit amendments to his budget proposal.
Over the next several weeks, the Assembly and Senate will conduct joint hearings on the proposal – by agency and issue area - and negotiations with the Governor usually commence thereafter. Budget hearings will begin on Tuesday, January 24.
New York State’s 2017-2018 fiscal year begins on April 1, 2017.
NY Schools in Fiscal Distress
This week, Comptroller DiNapoli released a report indicating 59 School Districts in Fiscal Stress based on his Fiscal Stress Monitoring System. This is a decrease from 82 districts that were listed in stress last year and 90 the year prior. In our BOCES, Clifton Fine was the only school district to make the list.
Massena’s score improved over the last three years. Since, the Fiscal Stress Monitoring is based on a three year trend for the "Operating Deficits" category, our recent experiences has given us a more positive score. Last year's score included two years of using fund balance to balance the budget. This year only included one, which resulted in a lower score. The other factor is the "Cash Ratio", which looks at end of year liabilities. Our end of year liabilities are mostly made up of pension costs, and given these rates have dropped significantly, so have our current liabilities.
Governor Cuomo’s Proposal to Revise the Foundation Aid Formula
As you know, the governor’s Executive Budget proposal would re-set the Foundation Aid formula without regard to amounts constitutionally owed to school districts under the Campaign for Fiscal Equity Court of Appeals decision. There are some aspects of the plan that are helpful, such as adjusting the poverty “floor” to accurately reflect a school district’s actual fiscal circumstances. It also drives a majority of the new aid to financially challenged districts. However, the fact that it ignores the state’s constitutional responsibility is unacceptable, as is the lack of predictability and transparency that the new method of determining school aid would create. Recently, Paul Francis, former Deputy Secretary of Education under Gov. Spitzer wrote a letter to the editor of The Daily News, making a case for the new approach and saying that the 2003 court order wasn’t binding. Michael Rebell, co-counsel for CFE in that case and now counsel in the ongoing case to enforce that order, has responded with a concise history that explains exactly why the Executive Budget plan should be rejected by the legislature. It’s well worth reading, in preparation for the work we will need to do to convince state legislators to create a proper Foundation Aid Formula. Michael's response is available at this link.
Village of Massena Receives Funding to Refurbish Slavin’s Building
The Village of Massena received good news this week with the awarding of funds from the Restore NY Community initiative to rehabilitate the former Slavin’s Building on Water Street. Hopefully, this will benefit the school district by creating business ready space and expanding the tax base. Below is the Press Release:
Massena Mayor Timmy J. Currier shared today that Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the Village of Massena was awarded $ 500,000 from the Restore New York Community Initiative.
The project will renovate the former Slavin's Building at 2-4 Water Street into a mixed-use building that includes commercial, retail, and market-rate apartments creating an attractive and inviting downtown as well as increasing the local property tax base. Completion of this project will ensure sustainable growth within the North Country region and NY state, and will also increase the number of downtown businesses and revitalization efforts within the Village of Massena.
The Village of Massena sought Restore NY funds in order to rehabilitate the 12,000 SF vacant former Slavin's building into a mixed-use building. The project will create two 4,000 SF retail spaces and three 1,300 SF upper midscale apartments. These spaces will have a scenic view of the Grasse River and will be in walking distance of all downtown amenities
Total Project cost is estimated to be $ 727,885
This project will include involvement from the Village of Massena and Ricky L. Hamelin of Downtown Massena LLC, the developer and eventual property owner.
The rehabilitation of the former Slavin's Building will be implemented by Downtown Massena LLC. A 3rd party construction estimate has been provided by Rivercrest Enterprises Inc. The Village of Massena will administer the Restore NY grant funds.
“This transformative project, as do others we are working on, aligns perfectly with the vision we established with our strategic development team.” said Mayor Timmy J. Currier
The vision is to attract commercial investment, greatly improve local housing stock and kick start revitalization of our downtown core.
“This award will facilitate the implementation of that vision and take a building with great history in the downtown core, which has been vacant for years, return it to the tax role and make it vibrant again” said Currier.
The former Slavin’s furniture store which occupied nearly the entire block on Water Street from 1920-2000, was demolished in 2010 by order of the Village of Massena Board of Trustees.
In May 2013, the Village of Massena entered into an agreement with Downtown Massena LLC which would work to find tenants, and redevelop the property.
When Mayor Currier took Office, he made the Slavin’s building a priority and began to work with the Village’s Strategic Development Team and the Downtown Massena LLC to identify funding sources.
In September of 2016 the Board of Trustees authorized the Mayor to apply for the Restore New York Community Initiative funds.
Today, Governor Cuomo announced the project has been funded.
Massena Central School in the News
Here are some other articles this week involving the Massena CSD:
News & Notes
A Day of Tradition Jan. 20, 2017 Inauguration Day
Aaliyah Prashaw and Lucas Oney display their Inauguration Day books.
The presidential oath of office consists of 35 words:
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Mrs. Cook’s second grade students experienced a bit of US history by viewing the inauguration of our 45th President on their Smartboard. The students then created their own “Inauguration Day” book.
Newest Tie Club Member
Kiera Newvine, Jefferson Kindergarten student, was nominated for Mr. Richards’ Tie Club for being polite, kind, and always ready to work hard each day.
Strategic Planning Parent Engagement Survey
As part of Jefferson’s Strategic Plan initiative to improve parents’ engagement in their child’s education, the committee has developed and circulated both a digital as well as paper-copy of a survey to solicit parent feedback. We have compiled the parent survey results with 175 parents participating. Please see below for a few items in which we received feedback. Our goal will be to now develop a plan to improve what we are deficient at, expand where we have been successful, and to develop new initiatives that will encourage and increase parent engagement in our school.
Grade of child of respondent:
30% Grades 2-4
21% Grades 5-6
How do parents prefer to receive information about their child?
Do you have internet access?
Barriers that prevented parents from attending a school activity:
Did they use any of the child care services provided by the school at curriculum night or parent-teacher conferences?
Have you been invited to participate in classroom activities?
Would you like to be invited to participate in classroom activities?
Do teachers encourage parents to be actively involved in their child’s learning?
Would parent be interested in attending a class on how to help their child at home?
Would parent be interested in attending a class on educational apps to use with their child at home?
The best time to hold a workshop?
Satisfied with the quality of program for child?
Do you feel welcomed at school?
Suggestions on how the school can improve the student's’ educational experience:
What would you like improved and /or added to the school environment?
Exxon Mobil Educational Alliance Grant
Pictured are Jefferson Elementary Principal, Duane Richards, accepting a $500 grant check from Mountain Mart 105 Manager, Kristen Block.
Jefferson Elementary gratefully accepts a grant check for $500 from Mountain Mart 105 in Massena, and through the Exxon Mobil Educational Alliance. Exxon Mobil believes it is important to encourage the next generation to pursue the studies of math and science. To that end, each year Exxon Mobil in partnership with local dealers such as Mountain Mart offers grants to schools to be used to support their science and math curriculum. Many thanks to Mountain Mart and to Nancy Monette, Exxon Mobil Programs Coordinator.
I will be presenting this grant for School Board acceptance at the next scheduled board meeting.
Thank You very much Mountain Mart and Exxon Mobile. This will be divided to support the “Genius Hour” and “Makerspace” initiatives.
News & Notes
Hot Shots Basketball Shooting Competition-
All three elementary schools send their most successful “hot shots” to the championship at the high school.
Here are the two winners from Nightengale: Hunter Young and Gabrielle Laughlin
The finalists are:
Give Back to the Community
Nightengale was given a few letters of thanks from our community partners.
ALL COUNTY MUSIC FESTIVAL
If your child was chosen from Nightengale Elementary to sing with the best singers from other elementary schools in St. Lawrence County at a music festival (concert format) on February 4, 2017 at 2:00 PM, hosted at Ogdensburg Free Academy, here is the information:
Date: Feb.4, 2017
Performance Time: 2:00 PM at OFA. Please arrive early to get a good seat. The auditorium will open at 1:30 to purchase tickets. Your child will need to be picked up after the concert since there are no buses going back to Massena.
4th Grade Owl Pellet Dissection
Mrs. Hannah-Albon’s students identify an owl pellet's contents and practice recording and analyzing the data.
Fun Facts about pellets:
3D plant and animal cells by Mrs. Denney's 5th grade
NIGHTENGALE NIGHTHAWKS ROBOTICS
Flying Nightengale Nighthawks were the Champions at the Robotics Competition at Clarkson University!!!! Coach Bill Lint's first Championship! The team also received the Most Mission points Award.
Nightengale's FLL Robotics team is going to St. Louis for the World Championships April 26-29th. Congratulations to Mr. Lint and his Robotics Crew!!
Nightengale 5th and 6th Grade Mannequin Challenge
Our 5th and 6th graders orchestrated a mannequin challenge on January 19, 2017. This was the quietest our cafeteria has ever been!!! Check out the link below.
Upcoming Events at Nightengale-
News & Notes
Fourth Grade Unit of Study
Mrs. Earl's fourth graders recently completed a Native American unit of study. To supplement the unit, students read and discussed the novel Eagle Song, by Joseph Bruchac. They wrote essays comparing and contrasting the Iroquois and Algonquians; describing their cultural traditions, family structures, gender roles and responsibilities, and geographical locations within New York State. As a culminating project, students worked in cooperative groups to create model Iroquois villages. They did a fantastic job!
Madison Gives a Hoot About Internet Safety!
The Internet can be a wonderful resource for kids. They can use it to research school reports, communicate with teachers and other kids, and play interactive games. Kids who are old enough to punch in a few letters on the keyboard can literally access the world. However, that access can also pose hazards. That's why it's important to be aware of what our children see and hear on the Internet, who they meet, and what they share about themselves online. Massena Central School is honored to have Special Agent Tim Losito come to each elementary school and present on Internet safety each year with our 5th and 6th grade students. Special Agent Losito came to Madison in January for his presentation. He shared stories and videos related to the safety and concerns of the internet. The following topics were discussed:
Our youth are technologically savvy. It is not unusual for a child at home to be completing a PowerPoint project for school while simultaneously instant messaging multiple friends, listening to music, and texting on their phones.
The web is a wonderful tool, but without supervision and good strategies, it can be unsafe. Please go to the following website to view the videos Special Agent Losito shared with our students during his presentation. http://www.netsmartz.org
Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!
Ms. Ouimet’s 4th-6th grade students have started a 3-week unit about winter in preparation for their snowshoeing field trip to Robert Moses’ State Park. This week’s topics of snow and ice had them completing experiments: to see if clean or dirty snow melted faster, if they could make frozen bubbles, and who could melt an ice cube the fastest using various materials.
10th Annual FLL Championship at Clarkson University
FIRST Lego League team MAD-JEFF (made up of 5th and 6th graders from Madison and Jefferson) met 4 – 6 days a week after school from September through January to prepare for the 10th Annual FLL Championship at Clarkson University on Sunday, January 22nd. This year’s FLL challenge was called “Animal Allies” and all parts of this year’s program are centered around humans and animals working together to make life better for one or both of them.
MAD-JEF won the Science Presentation award for their science research and presentation in which the students wrote and performed a parody on the Bee Gee’s song “Stayin’ Alive” about their idea for saving lives by using infrared technology to prevent people from falling into dangerous animal pens at zoos. The team had the judges tapping their feet and moving to the music.
For the robot game portion of the program, the team designed, built and programmed a tank-like robot that maneuvered its way around the competition field and interacted with mission models on the table. MAD-Jeff’s high score of the day was 103 points earning them 2nd place in the game.
JW Leary Junior High
News & Notes
Each month 3 students (1 7th and 2 8th grade) are selected as students of the month. These students are selected and agreed upon by the entire JW Leary through a rigorous nomination and review process. Students who are selected must demonstrate the following criteria:
Scholarship: Scholarship is demonstrated by a student's willingness to learn, always doing the best work possible and being committed to putting in the time needed to achieve to his/her potential.
Leadership: Leaders take the initiative to be involved in the school community as well as the local community. They can be characterized also as a student who helps others in their daily activities without motivation for reward.
Character: Character is doing one’s best to make the right choices. “Students with good character demonstrate respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, fairness, caring, and citizenship in their actions.”
The winners for January 2017 are:
Grade 7 students show off their baking skills and donate to our community.
Over 200 muffins were packaged and delivered to Meals on Wheels, the Community Dinner at the High School and the St. Regis Nursing Home. Each muffin had a tag placed upon it which read:
Made with love by JW Leary family and consumer science classes. Making community connections by caring.
Cooking and community connections are topics of the 7th grade Family and Consumer Science curriculum. Mrs. Root is always working hard to make sure our students understand the important role that they play in our school community.
JW Leary to offer Exploratory Electives during the Spring Semester
Starting next week we will be starting a series of exploratory elective courses at JW Leary. Teachers, in lieu of a duty (like study hall or cafeteria), will be offering courses to our students which are topics of special interest to them. These courses are aimed at enriching the curriculum at the Junior High while allowing teachers to offer non-traditional courses in areas that they have a unique interest in. This Spring will be a test run of this idea with the following courses being offered:
Video Game Analysis and Design taught by Mr. Hewer
Introduction to Theater taught by Mrs. Robideau
Hands on History taught by Mr. Cafarella
Science for Fun taught by Mr. Marshall
These courses will be taught pass-fail and without traditional homework and tests. The teachers will be visiting study halls next week to seek interest in these courses and they are scheduled to start February 6. Space is limited and students schedules will determine their access. It is our hope that if this test run is successful we will be able to have more offerings in the future.
WEB Rock and Skate
On the afternoon of January 27th, the Junior High WEB Program hosted a rock and skate for our students. It was a ½ day for students and all students were invited to the Massena Arena to have fun with their friends. The goals of the WEB program are to help students transition to the Junior High and increase our sense of school community. Events like this are a great way for our students to get together and have fun outside of the traditional school day. Special thanks to Mrs. LaShomb and Mrs. Sweet for all of the effort they put into this program.
JW Leary Hosts iReady Presentation
The Junior High was happy to host teachers from grades 6, 7 and 8 as well as visitors from other districts to hear a presentation about iReady on Friday January 27th. iReady is a new assessment program which could be an option to meet one of the goals we have in our District Strategic Plan. In that plan, we recognized that our K-8 student assessments had some room to be strengthened. This presentation showed districts one option which could potentially address that need. iReady offers a complete program which includes computer based assessments and a curriculum to help all of our students make gains in their education. The presentation was very informative and our staff had great conversations about how a program like this could be used.
News & Notes
The second Poverty Simulation was held at Massena CSD. On Friday Jan 27th the staff at the hgh school, along with a few staff from BOCES and the Jr High, tested their survival skills in order to better understand what the typical low-income family does from month to month in order to feed, clothe and house their families. In the picture below in front of the white tables, Janine Crump and Danielle Brown are engaged in a drug deal as a means to obtaining money.
Abbey St Thomas is pawning some of her assets in order to feed her family. To the right, Danielle Brown is, again, engaged in inappropriate activities by stealing from pawn broker Mike Chartrand.
Trish Murphy, Maggie Trombley, and Greg Paquin take a more legal approach by applying for money at the Dept. of Social Services. Receptionist, Tammy Blanchard, helps them with their application.
Jess Jarrett is trying to decide which utility, water, electric or phone can be sacrificed since she doesn’t have enough money to pay all three. Kristin Collarusso-Martin explains to Jess that whatever utility she doesn’t pay will be shut off. Joe Boyle, mortgage and rent collector, at the next table is watching as he will soon evict Jess and her family from their home for not paying the rent.
As an observer, I was able to see the frustration level rise, to almost a frenzy, as staff was put through a month long paces of extreme decision making. Towards the end of the two hours, I could see the staff becoming quiet with defeat because there was no place else to turn. Some families lost everything they owned while others never gained anything, which meant they were homeless the whole time.
The Poverty Simulation is one of several activities that are scheduled at the high school to bring awareness to the diverse population we work with each day. The district School Climate Committee recommended Jim and Renee Clark, (they are the couple who helped create Learn to Lead), to lead several other activities with staff and students on team building and sensitivity training over the next two years. The first activity was schedule at the January 20, 2017 faculty meeting. Staff participated in 3 activities lead by students, James Donnelly, Ashna Gupta, Dante Viskovich and Michael Meddings. These are the same activities they use at Learn to Lead and Freshman Orientations. The next scheduled activity is February 17, 2017, when a group of 80 staff and students will meet at the Massena Community Center for a full day of activities. The rest of the staff will be scheduled at later dates next year. They have been very receptive to these activities and look forward to the upcoming dates.
High School Upcoming Dates
Feb 3-4 – SLCMEA All County Concert at OFA
Feb 17 – School Climate Activities at Massena Community Center
Feb 20-24 – Winter Break
District Upcoming Events
1/31—District Safety Committee Meeting—9:30 am—JH Library
2/2—Finance Committee Meeting—5:30 pm—CAB
2/8—MCSEA Negotiations—5:00 pm—CAB
2/9—Policy Committee Meeting—6:30 pm—CAB
|Last Updated: 2/15/17|