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Massena Central School Board of Education Update

June 9, 2017


The Board of Education Meeting scheduled for Thursday, June 15, 2017 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.  


Audit/Finance Committee Meeting


There will be an Audit/Finance Committee meeting on 6/15 at 6:00 pm in HS Student Affairs . External Auditor Carl Seyfarth will brief the committee prior to engaging in the annual audit. It is expected that he will attend the Board meeting in October to present the final report.


Special Education Study Report


One of the District goals this year was to “Maximize the instructional and financial efficiency of services for students with disabilities.”  To further this effort a consultant, Futures Education, was hired in November, 2016 to conduct a study of the District’s special education programming. This work has been completed and a report will be provided at the Board meeting by Dr. John McGuire and Dr. Michael Neiman.  Here are their bios:


John McGuire, B.S.Ed., Ed. M., ABD

Executive Director, New York Region Futures Education/Co-Project Director

In more than forty years in education, John McGuire has served urban, suburban and rural school districts in the roles of special education teacher, director of special programs, chief operations officer, director of instruction, assistant superintendent and superintendent of schools. He has been a faculty member with the New York State Superintendent Development Program, and an assistant professor with the State University of New York’s graduate program in Educational Leadership and Administration at Oswego. Mr. McGuire is a life member of the New York State Council of School Superintendents. His advocacy affiliations and leadership roles have included the Center on Human Policy at Syracuse University, the Council for Exceptional Children, the Council of Administrators of Special Education, the Commissioner’s Task Force on Preschool Special Education, the Schenectady Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect, the Association for Gifted and Talented Education and the Capital Area School Development Association. In the capacity of executive director with Futures Education, Mr. McGuire has been a team leader and investigator, accomplishing Clinical and Educational Services Analyses in partnership with school districts across New York State.



Michael Neiman, Ph.D., CCC/SLP

Executive Vice President for Clinical Operations/Co-Project Director

Dr. Michael Neiman is the chief author of over 150 Clinical and Educational Services Analyses for an array of school programs serving urban, suburban, and rural school populations including 12 in the state of New York. Dr. Neiman has also led multiple professional development teams to help districts enact logistical, procedural, and process changes to their delivery systems. Dr. Neiman has an extensive background in teaching, educational consulting and leadership, and more than 23 years’ experience as a speech and language pathologist in addition to his clinical and practical research activities, he has recently co-authored a chapter in the recently published Transforming Special Education Practices: A Primer for School Administrators and Policy Makers and has co-authored five research articles in major communication sciences and disorders journals. In addition to his other duties, Dr. Neiman Dr. Neiman is currently an adjunct faculty member at the American International College in Springfield, MA.

A copy of the report has been attached to the Board agenda for your review.


New Economic Textbooks Recommendation

BOE Policy 8340 Textbook/Workbooks provides guidelines on the selection and purchase of textbooks.  Specifically, it states:

 "Upon the recommendation of the Superintendent of Schools, the Board of Education shall designate the textbooks to be used. Textbooks, once designated, cannot be superseded within a period of five (5) years except by a three-fourths (3/4) vote of the Board."

Accordingly, the High School Social Studies Department is requesting the purchase of 150 new textbooks for the senior Economics courses.  The rubric and purchase order are attached to the Board agenda. Principal Sarah Boyce and Social Studies Teacher Jon Putney will discuss further at the Board meeting.


School Climate Committee--Student Report

In May, two seniors Paige Cook and KC Herne and counselor Julie White addressed the BOE Policy Committee meeting in regard to the lack of a school mascot and the continued use of the old mascot in some circles.  The group is part of a larger School Climate Committee that was formed in October after a racial incident at the high school led to disparaging remarks on social media and divisiveness among the student body.  This marked the second year in a row in which a racially charged incident has created unrest in the school community. This Committee has been working to develop ideas to increase cultural understanding and a more respectful school environment.  Such ideas include integrating more Mohawk culture in the school curriculum and opportunities for team building. The students on the Committee have requested to address the full Board to begin a wider dialogue on the issues they feel are causing the divide, including the lack of a school mascot.  Paige Cook and KC Herne have been invited to the Board meeting on Thursday.  It is likely that other students will also attend.


School Physician Contract - Massena Memorial Hospital


The School Physician contract with Massena Memorial Hospital is prepared for renewal at the Board meeting on Thursday.  The only change to the contract, beyond price, is reference to the school nurse being designated to accept student physical certificates from private providers.  This caveat was agreed to last year and involved regular student physicals. Those for sports are required under contract to be completed by the school physician.  


Bid for Consolidation Feasibility Study


I am recommending that the Board accept the bid from Castallo & Silky to conduct the school consolidation feasibility study. They were among three firms who bid on the project.  A copy of their proposal is attached to the Board agenda.  Many of you know one of their main principals, Alan Pole, who conducted the last superintendent search for the District. He will be joined by Jessica Cohen who recently teamed up with Alan for an operational study for the St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES. Both will attend the July 5th Board meeting to discuss their plan and timeline for conducting the study.


Community Schools Site Coordinator


As discussed previously, I am recommending that the Board create the position of Community Schools Site Coordinator. As part of the process, the St. Lawrence County Civil Service Department has, with our collaboration, created a job description for this competitive position. I have also created a local job description which is attached to the Board agenda.  The funding will be part of the Foundation Aid set aside for Community Schools provided by the state.  Having a coordinator and Advisory Board is the ideal process for successfully implementing the program and is recommended by the state.  If acceptable, the Board will vote to create the position on Thursday and then we will post and advertise. The successful candidate will need to pass a civil service exam in the fall and be reachable on this list. I will discuss further at the Board meeting.


District Goals 2016-17 Update:

  • K-8 Benchmark Exam - Stephanie Allen

  • Student Attendance - Alan Oliver

  • Title VI & Cultural Sensitivity - Superintendent Brady, Stephanie Allen


On Thursday, we will update the Board on three initiatives undertaken this year as part of our District Goals and/or Strategic Plan.  These projects as indicated in the District goals are:


“Select and implement K-8 benchmark assessments and schedule.”—Director of Curriculum Stephanie Allen will discuss the process that led to the purchase of a K-8 program entitled iReady. This included a staff survey and will involve considerable professional development in 2017-18.


“Building teams will develop implementation strategies and progress monitor achievement of strategic planning goals.”—this included the creation of a District Attendance Committee chaired by Alan Oliver as well as attendance committees in each building.  The goal is to reduce chronic absenteeism from 20% to 10% by 2019.  Alan Oliver will brief the Board on these efforts at the meeting.


“Work with Tribal Council to implement the Title VI program including the engagement of a liaison and enhancement of cultural sensitivity training.”—Much work has been accomplished in this area in 2016-17.  This includes the creation of a HS School Climate Committee and many cultural events such as the social at Jefferson Elementary School. A copy of the Title VI budget and goals is attached to the Board agenda.


Advanced Science Club


I recently received a request from two high school science teachers, Randy Freiman and Ray Taylor, who would like to form an extracurricular club for interested science students.  The teachers have volunteered to advise the organization and have created the bylaws and officer positions as required by Board policy.  Here is their memo explaining the goals of the Advanced Science Club.  We appreciate that Mr. Freiman and Mr. Taylor would provide this opportunity for our students.  


Based on the interest of the student body in science, this letter is a proposal to form a high school Advanced Sciences Club. The main goal of this club is to provide a fun opportunity for students to broaden their knowledge of science and to interact with other students who have a shared interest in science. As such, the proposed club’s members would like to participate as an Advanced Sciences Club at Massena Central High School.

There are several reasons why the establishment of a high school science club is important. A science club can…

  • Allow students to cultivate their interest in science in an informal environment, without the pressure of being graded.

  • Reinforce the relevance of science to students’ everyday lives.

  • Introduce students to the possibility of future study or employment in science.

  • Offer students the opportunity to serve their community.

  • Expand students’ leadership skills by conducting demonstrations, lab activities, or community outreach events.


Mission Statement

Advanced Sciences club invites, motivates, and encourages high school students to explore the many ways that science connects to their world. Advanced Sciences Club provides fun, authentic, and hands-on opportunities for members to expand on the current scientific knowledge.  


Club Advisers

  • Mr. Raymond Taylor – Earth Science Teacher

  • Mr. Randy Freiman – Chemistry Teacher

Club Officers

  • President – Brendan O’Neill

  • Vice President – Aiden O’Neill

  • Secretary – Xylar Kocienski

  • Treasurer(s) – Brandon Badder & Micah Avery    


Other News


Excelsior Scholarship Presentation

The Massena Central School District and St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES hosted a presentation on Thursday night by Governor Cuomo's office about the new Excelsior Scholarship. Lonnie Threatte, Sr. VP at the Higher Education Services Council led the presentation of which about 60 people attended.  June O’Neill of the Department of Labor and Governor Cuomo’s regional representative Jeff Farrell also attended the event.  The purpose of the Excelsior Scholarship is to provide college tuition for students throughout the state.  Special thanks to District Clerk Candy Prairie for helping to organize this important presentation.


Here is some further information by NYSCOSS Deputy Director Bob Lowry:


The  application is now available on the Higher Education Services Corporation website and will be open from June 7 to July 21. 


You can find more information, including FAQs and a sign-up form to receive email alerts about the scholarship at this link – The Governor’s Office hope that you will share this information widely within your community.


More than 940,000 middle-class families across New York State are expected to be eligible for the Scholarship, and the requirements are simple.


To apply, students must:

  • Be residents of New York State

  • Plan to attend a SUNY or CUNY two- or four-year degree program

  • Take 30 credits per year and make progress towards graduation

  • Maintain good academic standing

  • Be on track to graduate on time with an Associate’s Degree in two years or a Bachelor’s Degree in four years


New regulations passed by the Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) Board of Trustees further clarify and provide flexibility for Excelsior Scholars by:


Allowing for the interruption of study and waiver of post-award obligations based on military service requirements

  • Allowing students to apply college credits earned in high school toward the 30-credits per year completion requirements

  • Prorating repayment of an award if residency/work requirements are not met, and making provisions for waiver/postponement of repayment in cases of extreme hardship

  • Allowing current college students who are six or less credits short of meeting the program’s credit requirements the opportunity to become eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship in 2018-2019, enabling them to "catch up" and qualify

  • Authorizing disabled students to attend part-time and receive a pro-rated award


The program goes into effect immediately, and is available for students whose families earn up to $100,000 annually beginning in the fall of 2017.  It will extend to families making up to $125,000 annually by 2019.



United States Senate Youth Program

The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) for juniors and seniors (2017-18 school year) is offering a $10,000 College Scholarship which includes:  a week in Washington all expenses paid for by The Hearst Foundation; the opportunity to meet with and hear major policy addresses from Senators, cabinet members, officials from the Departments of State and Defense and directors of other federal agencies;  and the opportunity to meet with a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

Albany Update


The following information is from Hinman Straub, counsel for the NYS Board of Regents:


Governor Announces Clean Climate Careers Initiative


Earlier today, Gov. Cuomo announced the Clean Climate Careers initiative, “a multi-pronged strategy to grow New York's emerging clean energy economy and prepare the workforce for the long-term careers associated with this industry.”  The initiative, in which the state is partnering with the ILR School's Worker Institute at Cornell University and Climate Jobs NY, is intended to “make New York a magnet for new energy technologies and [create] 40,000 new, good-paying clean energy jobs by 2020.”


The initiative includes three prongs:  state investments in clean technology and renewable energy development; creating new jobs; and establishing an Environmental Justice & Just Transition Working Group to develop priority programs and policies to help historical underserved communities.


Gov. Cuomo said:


“As the federal government abdicates its responsibility to address climate change -- at the expense of our environment and economy -- New York is leading the nation in advancing a clean energy future.  The Clean Climate Careers initiative is a groundbreaking investment, representing the largest state clean energy procurement in U.S. history.”



Division of Budget:  State Facing $4 Billion Budget Deficit in 2018


According to an updated state financial plan released just before the long Memorial Day weekend, New York State is facing growing budget deficit in upcoming budget years.


The plan, which includes projections on state spending and tax revenue for the next five years, shows the state facing a $4 billion budget deficit in its 2018-19 budget year. It also projects budget deficits of $5.9 billion in the 2019-20 fiscal year and $7.5 billion in 2020-21. The Cuomo Administration continues to assume these deficits will be largely offset by unspecified cuts hold growth in state operations to two percent or less, though the administration has been accused of fudging its numbers to meet these targets.


Governor Announces Funding for After-School Programs for High-Need School Districts


On Tuesday, Gov. Cuomo announced $35 million in funding for high-need school districts throughout the state to establish after-school programs, which will serve some 22,000 students.  Eligible school districts can partner with non-profit agencies to provide after-school programs.


Governor Cuomo said:


“This investment in our youngest New Yorkers is an investment in the very future of this state. With this funding, we will further level the playing field for children in underserved cities across New York by expanding their access to programs and community resources that will help them get ahead and help create a stronger, fairer Empire State for all.”


State Approves First Autonomous Vehicle Demonstration


On Wednesday, Gov. Cuomo announced that the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has approved the state’s first autonomous vehicle demonstration. Audi of America Inc. will conduct the demonstration, which will take place in Albany on June 13.


Gov. Cuomo said:


“Autonomous vehicles are a major part of the future of the automotive industry and this pilot program will help ensure New York continues to be a hub of innovation and cutting edge technology.  This emerging technology has the potential to decrease accidents and save lives on our roadways, and with this approval we are one step closer to a safer and stronger New York for all.”


The following updates are provided by NYSCOSS Deputy Director Bob Lowry:

Regents to consider reducing time for grades 3-8 ELA and math assessments from 3 days to 2

As noted in our introduction, the Board of Regents will consider a proposal next week to reduce the time used in administering the state grades 3-8 assessments in English language arts and mathematics from three days each to two days.


This is one of the changes we have advocated for years as a necessary step toward rebuilding trust in the state testing system. The move should be widely applauded.


Three Council priority bills moving in the Assembly

Bills addressing three top Council priorities were reported from the Assembly Education Committee this week. They are:

  • A.2112 (Nolan)/S.3203 (DeFrancisco) – BOCES District Superintendent Compensation Equity

  • A.7363-A (Buchwald)/S.4563 (Golden) – Authorizing School Districts and BOCES To Maintain a TRS Reserve

  • A.5965 (Galef)/S.4283 (Murphy) – Equitable Treatment of BOCES Capital Expenses under the Property Tax Cap


Here are our memos in support for all three bills.


Here is a four-page piece we did in the form of a Power Point handout explaining why schools needs a TRS reserve.


We are grateful to Assembly Education Committee Chair Cathy Nolan for putting the bills on an agenda.


All three bills were reported to the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. Here is a list of that Committee’s members; if any of them represent your school district or BOCES, we encourage you to contact them to express your support for any or all of the bills and ask that they be put on an agenda for the Committee. You may contact your Assemblymembers by calling 518-455-4100.


All three bills are on the floor in the Senate, in position to be voted on for passage by that house. We encourage you to call your Senators at 518-455-2800 to urge that they request that the bills be brought up for votes.


Please use these links if you wish to forward the Council’s positions to your legislators.





Council column on problems with restricting school district bond vote

As noted directly above, the closing down of the Assembly and Senate Education Committee is a relief because it limits the possibility of problematic legislative proposals advancing. One such proposal would restrict the timing of school district bond votes.


Two bills have already passed the State Senate: one would limit votes to the third Tuesday in May; the other would include a second day, election day in November. Neither bill has moved in the Assembly but another version was introduced by a Capital Region Democratic Assemblymember late last week.


This issue has also generated local attention here in Albany after a collection of area school districts conducted bond votes in November and December last year. The Albany Times Union ran an editorial endorsing restricting bond votes to the third Tuesday in May or election day.

Today the paper has published a column we submitted explaining the problems with that idea. The column is behind the paper's pay-wall for now. But you can read the text here.


We do not expect the legislation to be passed by the Assembly in the remaining weeks of the 2017 regular session of the legislature. But should the need arise, we will reprint the column (with the paper's permission) and use it in our advocacy.




District Upcoming Events


6/12—Facilities Committee Meeting—5:00 pm—Transportation Facility

6/13-20—Regents Exams

6/15—Audit Committee Meeting—5:30 pm—HS Student Affairs; BOE Meeting—6:00 pm—HS Room 314

6/20—MCSEA Contract Negotiations—5:00 pm—CAB

6/22—Baccalaureate Ceremony—7:00 pm—Sacred Heart Church

6/24—HS Graduation—1:00 pm—Massena Arena



Past Announcements
+ Brady, Patrick
+ Prairie, Candace
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