Sunday, October 30, 2016

Trick or Treat...

This is one of those weeks where there isn't a whole lot grinding my gears... that makes writing a blog every week challenging! With the Halloween holiday upon us, it's hard to believe that we are facing November and the winter athletic season. Last week, our leadership team met to discuss snow watch and the process for canceling/delaying snow due to weather. It's hard to believe that we are already at that point in the year. As the first marking period comes to a close in our schools, please take the time to chat with your student about their year thus far. Ask about what is going well and what their challenges have been. Knowing kids, most children won't want to talk much about it, but we need to keep extending that branch. If not for anything else, it shows that we care. During my visits to our buildings, I have had many opportunities to see our kids engaged in fantastic learning experiences and I have seen our staff members working together to create the best possible experience for our students. All of this combined has led for a year filled with more treats than tricks. I hope you all enjoy Halloween this year! Dress up, have fun, and be safe. And as we move into the winter, lets keep the treats coming as we continue to strive for the best!!

Strough Middle School Project

As you know by now, we are embarking on a $20 million renovation project at Strough Middle School during the next 2 years. Over the summer, our staff spent many hours working to empty the building and prepare alternate sites for the next 2 school years. Also this summer, our architects worked diligently to re-draft some plans due to changes in State Ed. leadership that resulted in part of the project needing to be redesigned. Recently, we have begun the process of securing a bid, which began a few weeks ago with developers walking through the building to determine if they wish to bid on the project. To date, we have had almost 50 companies walk the building and we are expecting a very competitive bidding process based on the feedback we have received. The project moves forward on November 9th when we open the submitted bids on the project. Certainly going to be a nice way to kick off winter!!

Every Student Succeeds Act

Last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to attend a feedback session related to New York State's submission for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), at our regional BOCES. ESSA is the most recent federal legislation that will guide States with regard to educational requirements and expectations. While there are not many substantial changes to the guidelines we currently work under (No Child Left Behind), there are some items that can be a cause for concern and others that seem like we are moving in the right direction. Of concern, there is still the requirement for 95% participation in testing, an added element connecting chronic absenteeism and suspension rates to various aspects of schools, the potential for requiring schools to balance their staffing budgets by building so all buildings have a similar budget for staff salaries, and the traditional fear of unfunded mandates. On the positives, there is more support for English Language Learners, the possibility of removing grade 8 testing for those students who are taking Regents level courses, and an increase in graduation pathway options for students who desire an alternate method of achieving a high school diploma. We will know more in the Spring regarding which way New York plans to go with ESSA, but for now it's good to have a finger on the pulse. If you would like more information, the following blog has some information for you. 

Dialogue With The Superintendent

In the coming weeks, we are going to be hosting a new event called 'Dialogue With The Superintendent'. This is a series that I hope to use every year and for this first year, we are going to host an event at every school to provide the best opportunity for our community to attend as possible. Our first dialogue will be held on Monday, November 14th at Bellamy. Each event will run from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and the format will be a question and answer session where members of the community will have the opportunity to write questions down on cards and I will respond to the questions, sight unseen. This format will be anonymous to provide people comfort in asking questions that they may not want others to know that they asked. The full list of events is below:

Bellamy - November 14
Staley - November 16
Ridge Mills - November 21
Stokes - November 28
Denti - December 5
Joy - December 7
Linden - December 12
Gansevoort - December 14
RFA - December 19
Early Childhood - January 4