Batavia Board of Education's October 23, 2012, Meeting Highlights
Submitted by Kathie Scott on October 25, 2012 - 1:45pm
District Improvement Plans Shared
As noted by Superintendent of Schools Margaret Puzio at previous Board meetings, the District did not meet New York State’s proficiency benchmarks for one subgroup of students and, as a result, has been identified as a Focus District which is required to choose at least one school on which to focus efforts toward improvement. Subgroups are groups of at least 30 students who share commonalities of race, ethnicity, economical disadvantage, disability, or of being English language learners. Because the Middle School has the greatest number of students in the specified subgroup identified by the State, it was chosen as the Focus School. Mrs. Puzio emphasized that the three-year Focus District process presents an opportunity to concentrate on closing the gap between the performance of all students and students who are members of sub-groups. Therefore, efforts toward improvement will be district-wide in their scope and will address the needs of all students who are not yet proficient.
Mrs. Puzio and Batavia Middle School Principal Sandy Griffin presented information about the three-year plans to the Board.
In order to be removed from the list of Focus Districts, schools must meet all the participation requirements in English language arts (ELA) and math for all accountability groups, have a combined Performance Index, or PI, (a value from 0-200, with 0 meaning that no students are meeting standards and with 200 meaning that all students are exceeding standards) in ELA and mathematics for the identified subgroup that exceeds the statewide benchmark for two consecutive years, achieve a combined PI in ELA and math in grades 3-12 of 122 during those two consecutive years, and have no other subgroup’s PI fall below the statewide benchmark.
More after the jump (click on the headline):
By reviewing testing data, utilizing needs assessments, and examining recommendations, administrators and teachers have been working to create two plans that identify areas of need as well as programs and activities to help increase student achievement: a District Comprehensive Improvement Plan and a School Comprehensive Education Plan. As required by the State, these plans must be collaboratively developed and approved by the Board of Education before being sent to the State for approval. Additionally, the plan is built around six tenets identified in the State Education Department’s Diagnostic Tool for School and District Effectiveness as aligning with research-based proven practices of effective schools. The six tenets, which were identified by a diverse group of experts in the field of education and research, include: 1) District Leadership and Capacity, 2) School Leader Practices and Decisions, 3) Curriculum Development and Support, 4) Teacher Practices and Decisions, 5) Student Social and Emotional Developmental Health, and 6) Family and Community Engagement.
Consequently, our district’s plan is built around three main ideas: improve initial teaching; create strong interim assessments and data review systems to ensure that students are on target, and individualize interventions. For improving initial teaching, the goals are to ensure that the curriculum is aligned to the more rigorous Common Core Learning Standards, to identify and provide professional development where it is most needed, to assist teachers in developing new materials, and to purchase needed resources. In creating and reviewing data, the goals are to provide multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate mastery, to solicit teacher feedback, and to set up a regular cycle of data analysis meetings for honing instructional strategies. In individualizing interventions, the plan calls for utilizing strategies that proved effective in raising literacy scores in the District, such as increasing time spent on learning tasks, using math software that assesses student’s level of proficiency then provides programs to build that individual’s skills and alerts teachers automatically if skill development in any particular area is not occurring.
By the end of the 2012-13 school year, the District will have participated in a site visit by a NYSED Integrated Intervention Team, and the results will form the basis of the district’s 2013-14 plans.
Board Committee Reports
Steve Mountain reported on the Buildings and Grounds committee…
- The date for closing the sale of the Administration Building has not yet been set. The IT department is in the process of moving all its operations out of the Administration Building to the High School, with completion expected by the end of the 2012 Thanksgiving break.
- The committee continues to discuss capital needs, with a report about capital improvements on the Richmond Library roof ready for review. In regard to the library, the committee is discussing the possibility of securing grants designated for the preservation and repair of historic buildings, of which the library is one. In order to pursue grants, voters would need to approve the project first.
- A generic lease agreement for the Robert Morris building was reviewed and approved; specific leasing arrangements will need to come before the Board for approval.
Pat Burk reported on the Legislative Committee, noting that the School Boards convention is this week and he will be taking our Board of Education members’ concerns and priorities to the legislative committee during that portion of the convention.
Amy Barone reported on the Safety Committee, noting that a flu clinic was held for all District staff and their families, and that the committee is developing a webpage on the District’s website for communicating its activities and meetings.
Phil Ricci reported for the Public Relations Committee, noting that the group had an interview with a writer from the NYS School Boards Association publication, On Board. The group continues to explore ways to expand and experiment with the use of social media, and has approved the use of interns for helping to expand news coverage.
Gail Stevens, reporting back from the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership’s Board, noted that their legislative committee, at her suggestion, used pictures comparing Robert Morris pictures - one from last year with students and one from this year with an empty playground - to emphasize the fiscal difficulties faced by school districts. In addition, the Comptroller’s Office is scheduled to provide a list of districts that are in fiscal distress and in danger of becoming insolvent within the next few years.
Batavia High School News
Student Ex-officio Board member Kaitlin Logsdon reported to the Board that
- nine music students have been selected to perform with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra for a choral performance, and five others were chosen for performances at the NYS School Music Festival;
- the fall sport season is winding down with teams beginning sectional competitions;
- student government is looking ahead to this week’s Fall Ball and at ideas for a winter assembly;
- Red Ribbon Week is being celebrated this week at the High School as well as at all schools in the District.
Superintendent of Schools Margaret Puzio provided a slideshow featuring seniors at their volunteer sites during Make a Difference Day, noting that one of the missions of the District is to help students become responsible citizens, and community volunteer work is a cornerstone of good citizenship.
Jackson Primary School Request for Part-time Aides
Superintendent of Schools Margaret Puzio noted that Jackson Primary School Principal Diane Bonarigo has requested four part-time teacher aides to help during lunch through to student dismissal time so that the full-time aides can return to classrooms (from lunch duty) where their in-class assistance is needed.
District Financial Summary Reports
Business Administrator Scott Rozanski reported on the August 2012 revenue and expenses for the District, reviewing them in comparison to the August 2011 figures.
Recorded revenues were down by nearly $52,000, primarily in the Non-property Tax Items category (utility tax), which accounted for $32,500. The utility tax, as has often been reported, experiences regular fluctuations and has been trending lower than last year. Medicaid reimbursements, noted in the State and Federal Aid category, were also down by $21,000.
Expenses were up by $1,142,000, with nearly all of that, 97%, attributable to timing issues: 46% or $525,000 was related to the timing of billed BOCES expenses; 35% was in the timing of health insurance as noted by the $406,000 increase in the Employee Benefits category; and 16% or $160,000 was due to a change in the payroll accrual accounting procedure which will help with the projection of expenditures. The other 3% was related to one-time expenses of the consolidation process with such things as an increase in summer employees, purchase of packing supplies, and rental of moving vans.
Board member Pat Burk reported to the Board that, according to a report by Buffalo Business First, our district continues to improve its administrative efficiency ranking. The ranking is based on spending per pupil, the ration of pupils per administrative staffer, and the share of the district’s budget devoted to debt service.
Board Members' Training and Workshops
Mrs. Puzio presented the Board with an agenda for their annual retreat which will take place in November, noting that the agenda items were developed through reviewing suggestions made by the Board members as well as by reviewing identified needs for our district.
In another opportunity for growing in expertise, several of the Board members will attend all or part of the annual School Board Convention in Rochester later this week. Deputy Superintendent Chris Dailey highlighted many of the workshops that may be of particular interest to Board members serving in our district, including sessions on finances, communication, negotiations, legislation, and mandates.
Board of Education Appreciation Week
In honor of Board of Education Recognition Week, designated by the NYS School Boards Association as a week to pause and reflect on the contributions of school board members, the Batavia Clerical Association sent a thank you card to express their appreciation to the Board of Education. They included a $50 donation to the Salvation Army Backpack Program in honor of the Board. The Backpack Program provides a weekend supply of healthy snacks for District children in need.