Batavia city schools, board of education highlights, Sept. 25 meeting
Submitted by Howard Owens on September 26, 2012 - 9:01am
SUBMITTED by Kathie Scott, coordinator of public information, Batavia city schools
“Like Us” on Facebook, and Respond to Survey
Public Relations Committee Chair Patrick Burk reported that the committee continues to explore cost-effective ways to increase coverage of district news and accomplishments, with both the amount of news and the methods of delivery being expanded.
A survey has been posted to the Web site ( http://www.bataviacsd.org/news.cfm?story=958&school=0), will be sent home in school newsletters, and will be inside the district newsletter in order to solicit input from the full spectrum of community members about their preferences regarding district communications. The committee is exploring the use of college interns as well as BHS students as a means to expand its capabilities for covering positive news.
The district launched a Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/BataviaCitySchools) in time for Homecoming and has been encouraging students, particularly those involved with the BHS yearbook and those taking media courses, to become involved in providing pictures and short news items for it. The page will also serve as a feeder that leads back to more detailed information on our Web site.
Also carrying the Homecoming theme, Board Member Gretchen DiFante interviewed two teachers who are BHS alumni -- Physical Education teacher and Varsity Football Coach Brennan Briggs and Science teacher Elena Chmielowiec -- for their stories about graduation from and returning to BHS. That article is posted on our Web site (http://www.bataviacsd.org/news.cfm?story=954) as well as online with www.thebatavian.com and thedailynewsonline.com
Superintendent of Schools Margaret Puzio, who has been an active member of the committee, added that BHS teachers have responded enthusiastically to the idea of incorporating some publicity-related “real life” experiences into their lessons by having students photograph and write about events. She also said she has been keeping the Management Team informed of the PR Committee’s initiatives and all are excited about the possibilities.
BHS Homecoming in Full Swing
Student Ex-officio Board Member Kaitlin Logsdon updated the board members on the activities at the high school, including activities for Homecoming Week, Sept. 24-28. (http://www.bataviacsd.org/news.cfm?story=951&school=0 ), and athletic updates, including the boys’ cross-country team coming in first last weekend, gymnastics team coming in second in its last competition, and the swim team winning its first meet of the season. In addition, organizations such as honor societies have begun meeting and planning their events for the year.
More after the jump (click on the headline):
New Inductees for Athletic Hall of Fame
Superintendent of Schools Margaret Puzio announced the upcoming Athletic Hall of Fame Induction, one of the featured events of Homecoming. This will be the 11th Annual Batavia Blue Devil Athletic Hall of Fame induction and this year’s honorees include William J. Walters (Class of 1923); Patrick Marabella (Class of 1957); Sue Medley (Class of 1982); Wendy Folger (Class of 1969); Robert Thurston (Class of 1985); and Philip Grazioplene (Class of 1987). Inductees will be announced during halftime at the Homecoming football game and will be formally inducted the following night at a dinner in their honor.
Improvement Plan for Focus School
As noted at a previous board meeting by Superintendent Puzio, the district did not meet New York State’s proficiency benchmarks for one subgroup of students. As a result, it has been identified as a Focus District, and is required to choose at least one school on which to focus efforts toward improvement for this subgroup.
Because the middle school has the greatest number of students in the specified subgroup, it was chosen as the Focus School. The district must assemble a school improvement committee to develop a plan that identifies areas of need as well as programs and activities to help increase student achievement.
It’s important to note that the data used for the determination dates back to the 2010-2011 school year and if data from 2011-2012 had been used, the district would have made the target cut points. So while the district is responsible for submitting a Comprehensive Improvement Plan to the state, many of the strategies and plans are already under way and yielding positive results. In addition, Deputy Superintendent Chris Dailey will attend a training in Albany that will focus on what the state requires.
Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) Update
Deputy Superintendent Chris Dailey announced that the Batavia Teachers Association voted to support the APPR that the district has been working on for approximately two years.
The nearly unanimous support may be a reflection of the APPR committee’s thorough research of what other districts were doing as well as their solicitation of a broad base of input from our own district teachers throughout the process of creating the plan. The next step is to formally present the final draft to the Board of Education at the Oct. 9 meeting for its approval then begin implementing it. Dailey believes the plan will be a model for other districts to follow.
Dignity for All Students Act
Jamie Polhamus, an instructional support specialist for the district and the district’s School Dignity Act coordinator provided an overview of The New York State Dignity for All Students Act, (familiarly known as “The Dignity Act”) its purpose, and what it means for our district.
The Dignity Act is a New York State Educational Law that became effective July 1. The purposes of the legislation are:
- To raise awareness and sensitivity to potential acts of discrimination and/or harassment directed at students that are committed by students and/or school employees on school property or at a school function;
- Raise awareness of discrimination and/or harassment based on a person’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex;
- To discourage and respond to incidents of discrimination and/or harassment.
The Dignity Act’s underlying premise is that preventative and non-punitive intervention, in response to incidents of discrimination and/or harassment, is the best way to achieve school environments free from harassment and discrimination.
Schools are encouraged to use a variety of intervention measures to address discrimination and/or harassment, including restorative practices, conflict resolution, peer-mediation, and counseling, rather than over-relying on exclusionary methods of discipline, such as suspension.
The district has already implemented initiatives and staff training that are in line with The Dignity Act and will continue to utilize programs already in place such as PBIS (Positive Behaviorial Interventions and Supports) and the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.
In addition, Dignity Act coordinators have attended a full-day workshop and have presented the additional information to all staff and all students, adapting the presentation as was befitting for each group.
The district’s Code of Conduct has been updated, as has been the information on the Web site regarding Dignity Act information/resources. Documentation if incidents occur will be handled using a system that had been recently implemented, although some modifications may be made in the future.
Coming up next, building newsletters will include information on the Dignity Act, coordinators will attend another training session this fall then update staff, and counselors will develop grade-appropriate student lessons to be presented district-wide.
Financial Summary Report
Business Administrator Scott Rozanski reported on the July 2012 revenue and expenses for the district, reviewing them in comparison to the July 2011 figures.
Recorded revenues were down by nearly $35,000, primarily in the non-property tax items category (utility tax). The utility tax, as has often been reported, experiences regular fluctuations, particularly early in the year. Expenses were also down. The decrease of approximately $20,500 is primarily due to the timing of billing cycles, particularly in this instance in regard to payment of general liability insurance premiums.
Auditors Review Financial Statements
Audit Committee Chair Phil Ricci reported that the committee met with the auditors to review financial statements from the last fiscal year and, noting that the auditors had only minor comments, he commended Business Administrator Scott Rozanski and the Business Office staff for their work.
Administration Building Offices Will Move
Buildings and Grounds Committee Chair Amy Barone reported to the board that, at its last meeting, the committee discussed the public vote to sell the Administration Building and the resulting plans for relocating offices that are currently housed in that building, particularly the IT department.
They also reviewed the Building Condition Survey and the Roof Report for the roof of the Richmond Memorial Library. Roof work would be a capital project and, as such, would require voter approval. They also continue to work on the leasing of Robert Morris, and currently have two potential tenants.