The School Drop-Off Line

If you watch the movie “Daddy’s Home” with Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell, you’ll catch a scene in which Mark Wahlberg cracks under the pressure while driving within the cones that designate the school drop off and pick up line at the elementary school his children attend. Springville parents will definitely relate! Controlling traffic during these times must be a widespread challenge for schools, as reflected in “Daddy’s Home” and on the blog Scary Mommy where Christina Antus writes The Hell that is the School Drop-Off Line.  Even the Today Show has covered the issue in The 7 rules parents must not break in the school drop-off line. If you google “school drop-off line” you’ll find 13,600,000 results. Wow!

I promise you we did not make changes to the pick up and drop off location at SMS to torture or inconvenience our parents. The changes were made strictly for student safety, always our #1 priority. And remember, while we respect the parent decision to drop off and pick up students–we do also provide free transportation to and from school on that BIG YELLOW BUS.

Previously we had staff, parent and bus traffic all flowing through the same parking lot at the same time. Our students were dropped off by parents and then were crossing between the cars and buses. SMS Principal Shanda DuClon developed a plan which moves parent drop off and pick up to the District Office parking lot with a short walk for our students down the sidewalk.

The morning drop off seems to run smoothly, parents pull in and drop off their student then quickly proceed out of the parking loop. In the afternoon, pick up would run much more smoothly if the first parents who pull into the loop at the District Office would pull all the way around, with the others following. Now, the first parent to arrive often stops at the precise spot where the sidewalk to the middle school begins and we end up with cars lined up onto Newman Street. If all of our parents would pull in and make one line with the first car pulling all the way around to the exit of this loop (so that the back of SES is on your right), there would be plenty of room for all of the cars picking up students. More important, then our students could stay on the sidewalk as they head to their parent’s cars.

Thank you for working with us on this issue! While we realize it may be less convenient, it is safer for our students than walking through the bus traffic that’s there to transport all of our students.

Capital Project: Important Dates and Information

PUBLIC HEARING AND INFORMATION MEETING:
Tuesday, September 20, 7 pm
Springville-GI High School, Library Media Center

VOTER REGISTRATION:
Thursday September 22, 12pm – 8pm
Polling District #1: Collins Center Fire Hall
Polling District #2: Colden Elementary School
Polling District #3: Springville-GI High School, Main Lobby

CAPITAL PROJECT REFERENDUM VOTE:
Tuesday, September 27, 10am – 9pm
Polling District #1: Collins Center Fire Hall
Polling District #2: Colden Elementary School
Polling District #3: Springville-GI High School, Main Lobby

Additional Information Sources:

• District Clerk

Phone: (716) 592-3230

Email: ktucker@springvillegi.org

On the Web:

• District Web Site
Visit www.springvillegi.org and click “Capital Project”

• Superintendent’s Message
Visit www.springvillegi.org and click “Superintendent Message”
or visit www.kimberlymoritz.com

• Twitter
Visit www.twitter.com/kimberlymoritz and click “Follow”

Voter Information
For additional assistance or information on voter eligibility, voter registration, or absentee ballots, contact the District Clerk at 592-3230 or via email at ktucker@springvillegi.org.

Voter Eligibility:
You may vote on September 27, 2016 without pre-registration if you are a registered voter with the school district. You are a registered voter with the school district if you have voted in at least one school vote since January 1, 2012. You are also eligible to vote if you are a registered voter with the Erie or Cattaraugus counties Boards of Election and meet the residency requirements. You must vote at the polling location you are assigned to, which is based upon the location of your residence and which voting district your residence is part of. A map of voting districts is available on the district website.

Voter Registration:
If you are currently not eligible to vote on September 27, you must register on September 22 at the polling location you are assigned to, which is based upon the location of your residence and which voting district your residence is a part of. In order to register to vote, a person must be:
• A citizen of the United States
• Eighteen (18) years of age or older; and
• a resident within the District for a period of thirty (30) days prior to the meeting at which he/she offers to vote.

Please bring photo I.D. that verifies your age and residence (i.e. driver’s license).

Absentee Ballots:
If you are unable to appear to vote in person on the day of the school district capital project vote, you may request an Application for Absentee Ballot from the District Clerk or download a copy from the District web site. Once your completed and signed application is received by the District Clerk and veri-fied that the claimant is entitled to vote, ballots will be mailed to the applicant(s).

Please note that Applications for Absentee Ballots must be received by the District Clerk at least 7 days before the vote (by Tuesday, September 20) if the ballot is to be mailed to the voter, or the day be-fore the vote (September 26) if the ballot is to be delivered personally to the voter.

Capital Project: FAQ

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions and Answers on the Capital Project.

Q. Why do we need this Capital Project?
A. Last year, an engineering and architectural evaluation was conducted on the condition of the school facilities. This evaluation identified and prioritized several issues primarily related to health and safety, preservation of buildings, energy efficiency and site improvements. The Board is now proposing to address those facilities necessities identified in the most cost efficient manner — a Capital Project — where the District can take advantage of obtaining State Building Aid to offset construction costs that would otherwise be funded by the local taxpayers.

Q. What has changed from the last project vote that was held in December 2015?
A. In December 2015, a $38.7 million project was defeated by the community. Since that time, the District has solicited feedback from voters and community representatives to gather the public’s opinions on the scope of the project and where the District could improve. That input was very seriously considered and has caused the District to re-evaluate its needs vs. wants. Now, the Board of Education has approved a narrowed scope of work and a project based primarily on #1 priorities and critical needs. The new Capital Project has been reduced to $27,795,000.

Q. Why come back to the voters so soon?
A. Much of the project’s scope includes critical items that have reached the end of their useful life, such as roofs, heating/ventilating units, pavement, flooring, etc. The District couldn’t afford to wait. We have to address these items in the most cost-effective way possible — through a capital project — where the State will support the District with 70% of the construction in Building Aid.

Q. What if the vote doesn’t pass?
A. A capital project assures that the District will receive their share of State Building Aid for capital improvements. If the vote does not pass, the critical work would then have to be paid for through the school district’s general fund, with 100% of the associated costs passed on to local taxpayers. Payment of the construction would also have to be made immediately instead of spreading the costs out over a number of years.

Q. When will the work take place?
A. After final design and the State Education Department’s approvals, it is anticipated that construction would start in 2018 with substantial completion in late 2019.

Q. Where can I get more information regarding the project?
A. The District has scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday, September 20. There will be a capital project presentation and an open forum for questions. The district newsletter, The Bulletin, included pages 9-12 on the capital project. In addition, information can be found on the District’s website (www.springvillegi.org) and social media outlets. Please also feel free to visit Superintendent Kimberly Moritz’ blog at www.kimberlymoritz.com.

Capital Project: Highlights of Proposed Work

The capital project’s scope of work addresses needs in five key areas:
1) Building Conditions Survey & Code related items required by NYS,
2) building exterior & roofing,
3) mechanical/electrical/plumbing,
4) site work, and
5) academic programming needs.

The outline below provides a brief overview of the major work items planned at each building.

High School $8,936,300
• Pavement reconstruction and sidewalk replacement
• Resurface and expand existing track
• Replace overhead electrical lines with underground
• Improve handicap accessibility at toilet rooms
• Asbestos abatement
• Refinish gym floor
• Masonry restoration
• Replace existing pool roof
• Replace original steam boilers with new,
• more energy-efficient boilers
• Replace miscellaneous electrical panels
• Replace overhead stage rigging
• Renovate basement locker room
• Replace non-code compliant press box and structure
• Concession stand upgrades
• Greenhouse improvements

Middle School $9,984,300
• Replace 14 heating / ventilating units
• Install new handicap-accessible Nurse’s toilet
• Kitchen ventilation
• Upgrade / replace water services
• Replace all corridor lockers
• Asbestos abatement
• Corridor flooring replacement
• Replace entire roof

Colden Elementary $1,628,200
• Pavement reconstruction and sidewalk replacement
• Kitchen hood and piping replacement
• Asbestos abatement
• Replace all carpet with new vinyl flooring
• Roofing repairs
• New fire alarm system

Springville Elementary $6,847,500
• Pavement reconstruction and sidewalk replacement
• Replace deteriorated site lighting with energy-efficient
• LED lighting
• Repave primary and intermediate playgrounds
• Replace vinyl asbestos flooring with new vinyl flooring
• Refinish gym and stage wood floors
• Partial roof replacement
• Masonry restoration
• New energy-efficient classroom ventilators and casework
• Replace original boilers with more energy-efficient boilers
• Replace gymnasium and cafeteria ceiling and lighting

District Offices $398,700
• Roof replacement
• Upgrade toilet rooms for handicapped accessibility

Investing In Our Facilities

Dear District Resident:

On Tuesday, September 27, 2016, you will have an opportunity to vote on a capital project that is designed to address critical facilities work in each of our buildings. The project items come directly from a needs assessment that the State Education Department requires our District complete every five years to be sure we are planning for and maintaining the district’s assets.

We presented most of the work detailed in a capital project newsletter last December. However, that project included $12 million of additional work, including a significant addition to the high school to house a new gymnasium. We received a lot of constructive feedback when that project was voted down. Over the past several months we have continued to listen, meeting with various representatives from the community. Based on your input and much planning we are proposing a project that is much more narrow in scope and focuses on our critical needs.

This project includes the replacement of many items home and business owners will understand are a part of maintaining a property: rooftops, heating and ventilation units, pavement, curbing and sidewalks, updated fire alarm systems, and flooring. We also must replace our track surface and are therefore expanding the track to a full 8 lane track, an improvement that’s smart to do now.

This project does NOT include a new HS gym, office relocations, renovation of the existing media center, or replacement of the athletic field lighting system. There is more work to be done in our schools, there always will be—that’s part of the responsibility of owning and maintaining school buildings. We have been extremely cognizant of the cost to the taxpayer of the work we’ve included in this project scope.

All work will be paid for using a combination of state aid funding, cash from the capital project reserve established by our taxpayers, and the local tax share. The amount of this project that is eligible for state aid has been maximized and our current debt from previous projects has been carefully considered to result in a proposed project of $27,795,000, including $1,301,000 in capitalized interest. This means, for example, that for a $100,000 “full/equalized value” home, a resident with Senior/STAR would pay an additional $7 per year, a primary resident with STAR would pay $13 per year, and a non-STAR resident would pay $19 per year.

By contrast, the $38,772,000 project presented and defeated by the voters in December 2015 would have cost the same taxpayer up to an additional $47.87 annually. The December 2015 Project did not include the capitalized interest we’ve included for this project, therefore we’ve reduced the scope of work from the December project by $12,278,000.

We know how much pride this community has in SGI. Capital projects like this one help to keep our facilities in good working order and improve the conditions under which our children learn and thrive. We need and appreciate your support. We encourage you to learn more at the Public Hearing on September 20 and to vote on September 27, 2016.

Thank you,

Kimberly Moritz, Superintendent and Allison Duwe, BOE President

A Teacher’s Heart

Knowing and loving our young people, either my students in the classroom or a troubled kid when I was a principal or a group of students as a superintendent is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. What could possibly have more meaning than working with our students, showing them that we love and care about them, expect and see the best in them?

On Friday night, at our SGI football game, I got to catch up with one of my Pine Valley students from the 1990’s because he’s now a parent in our district. Not only is Pine Valley a small school district but I taught Spanish so I got to teach the same kids for four-five years. We came to know each other well!

I’m not sure I can adequately express how much I enjoyed that visit on Friday night. I truly, with my whole heart, love that kid. And his classmates. Michael was in seventh grade in my first year at Pine Valley and I was there when his class graduated. In my head they’re all still about 14 years old. When I walked up to say hello to Michael I was shocked to see he’s got some wrinkles! Which of course I remarked on only to have him say, “You can’t say that to a grown man! You know you don’t have to say everything you’re thinking!” It was as if the twenty years that have passed were nothing. He was a kid in my class and I was the teacher who knew the best version of him.

Seeing him as a dad and a loving husband but still knowing the boy who he was–that was pure joy for me. When I think about the many gifts in my big, beautiful life, few compare to the gift of knowing my students as they become adults.

I’m incredibly grateful for my lunches with Nikki and Kristin, my phone calls to proof a paper for Ryan, that Jason doesn’t write me a ticket if I’m driving a bit too fast and stays to catch up, that Allison calls me for advice and makes time for lunch on school breaks, that I can read what they’re all doing on social media, and for my RCS lunch crew who came to see me this summer plus every other student who’s allowed me into their lives in some way.

I hope they know that I will always see them for the very best that they are, always expect the best of them and always love them with my whole heart. What a privilege it is to be a TEACHER.

Capital Project Announcement

On Tuesday, September 27, 2016 residents of Springville – Griffith Institute Central School District are being asked to vote on a revised capital project referendum. Based on feedback received from voters in December and in recent community input meetings, the District has reviewed the facilities needs identified in the Five-Year Capital Facilities Plan that is required by New York State. To lessen the impact on local taxpayers, the newly revised capital project will have a reduced scope that focuses on the most critical health, safety, accessibility and code compliance issues at each of our District buildings.

Please mark your calendar with the following dates:

PUBLIC HEARING AND INFORMATION MEETING:
When: Tuesday, September 20, 7pm
Where: Springville-GI High School, Library Media Center

VOTER REGISTRATION:
When: Thursday September 22, 12pm – 8pm
Where: Polling District #1: Collins Center Fire Hall
Polling District #2: Colden Elementary School
Polling District #3: Springville-GI High School, Main Lobby

CAPITAL PROJECT REFERENDUM VOTE:
When: Tuesday, September 27, 10am – 9pm
Where: Polling District #1: Collins Center Fire Hall
Polling District #2: Colden Elementary School
Polling District #3: Springville-GI High School, Main Lobby

In the coming days, I will have a series of articles with further details. All information presented is also in The Bulletin, our District Newsletter, on pages 9-12. The Bulletin was mailed to residents’ homes on August 31, 2016.

The UPK Lottery–it’s NOT Universal

We need our state senators and assembly members to support fully funding UPK in every district in ways commensurate with the rest of our K-12 school system.

What’s it called when everyone in a system agrees about something and yet nothing seems to change or is done about it? In public education, an example of this problem is Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) funding.

Universal PreK is a movement within the American education system to make access to preschool education available to all families, similar to the way kindergarten is available to all 5- and 6-year-olds.

Except it’s not universal or available to all families. Most districts who offer UPK have a lottery system in which they randomly pull names of children within the district up to the number of spots provided for in the grant funding the individual district has applied for and received.

Then the families who are lucky enough to be awarded the spots have to be able to get the child to and from the half day UPK and figure out child care for the other half of the day. If I’m a working mom out of the district, how do I make that work?

We send out letters to sixty families every year that tell them that their child has been awarded a spot in our UPK program that is run through a private provider in Springville, the Early Bird ChildCare Center.  Pat Marcello, along with her daughter Colleen, have done a wonderful job of providing both UPK and child care services to the families of Springville since 1975.

Even if you’re not in education a simple google search “Does early intervention make a difference?” will result in 109,000,000 links to articles supporting early childhood education. The research is abundant and rich.

We KNOW, we have ALWAYS known, that early childhood education makes a huge difference in the lives of our children. I would argue it can be the most significant year of a child’s formal school life in which we can make enormous gains in learning and capacity that will impact the child for life.  

The accomplishment of which I am most proud in my career as a school leader is the implementation of full day UPK in Randolph for our neediest students. All I did was say “yes” to Dr. Mary Rockey when she asked if she could start a SCIS (special class in an integrated setting) pre-kindergarten classroom for the children of that district. Mary rightfully advocated that bringing in our neediest children and connecting them to our providers at an earlier age would help us make important gains at a crucial time in brain development. That small rural school district now supports two SCIS classrooms and UPK half day for the other families who choose to participate. The growth I personally saw children make, through early intervention, was one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. And I did nothing as a leader but say yes to an administrator with an idea. Because it’s a special education program, the funding was rich and the local share was supported by the Randolph BOE members who also saw the importance of early intervention.

And yet we still have a competitive grant structure that leads to inadequate and uneven funding gained IF a school district has someone equipped at filing for a competitive grant OR wants to pay an outside entity to do so AND which grant funding they go after AND if they meet the criteria for the award.

We need our state senators and assembly members to support fully funding UPK in every district as they fund the rest of our K-12 school systems. Governor Cuomo heralds how much he’s done to support UPK to great applause in his state of the state address each year.  I wonder if it’s actually a great way for Governor Cuomo to over-estimate his expenditures, saying that he’s dedicating a huge amount of money to UPK that doesn’t end up being awarded. I don’t pretend to understand his reasons for heralding the importance of UPK and then continuing an unfair, uneven and inequitable means of funding it.

We also need local districts to make decisions when budgeting to support early intervention through full day true UNIVERSAL pre-kindergarten for every family who chooses to send their children to our programs and we need to provide transportation. We have to push for fully funded UPK for all 4 year olds.  How do we not when we know that this is perhaps the most critical year in a child’s learning?

Slowing Down Change

Change, real systemic change, in public education. When we’ve had BIG CHANGE, we’ve pushed back and said that it didn’t work because of rushed implementation or uneven implementation or a failure to prepare adequately or a lack of resources. Maybe it’s because I’m in the last decade of my career, but I’m becoming impatient. I want to make a significant difference in the lives of our students. I want their learning experiences to be tailored to who they are as learners not who we were when I attended school in the seventies.

It takes FOREVER for something to change in public education. I worry that we are now slowing down the implementation of any NYS initiative because of the push back of the past five years.  And I worry that we’re not really “preparing” for these changes. From my perspective it just seems to mean being given more time before we “have to do something”.  Are we preparing or putting off?

Take computer based testing as an example.

The NYS Education Department has been preparing us for computer based assessments for a couple of years now. And districts are looking at piloting “computer based” assessments between now and 2020; some have started already. Why the slow roll out? To allow districts to prepare for it.

When we talk about computer based assessments in our district, we’re talking about using technology to support learning through adaptive testing and diagnostic instruction that’s tailored for every child’s learning path. A significant tool for teachers to better understand individual students. It’s like using the coolest apps on your smart phone to do things better, faster, more efficiently, more personalized.

When the state is talking about computer based assessments for the NYS tests, they’re talking about replacing the paper/pencil assessments with something that’s on a computer. This won’t transform learning for a child, it will still be a summative check and it will be a tool, much as it is now, to see how we’re doing as a system as compared to other school systems. It’s like using your smart phone to make a phone call.

That ^^^^ is not enough. The argument is that we have to implement this substitution of paper/pencil tests so that we’re ready to use adaptive testing. Cripe. I’ll be dead by the time we get to adaptive testing and personalizing learning through diagnostic instruction for every child in this state.

We’ve been using adaptive testing and diagnostic instruction in the districts I’ve worked in since 2011. There are likely districts that have done so far longer than we have. It’s the right way to use assessments and technology, in formative ways throughout the school year to improve our instruction for every child. We have the ability to do things well, to target the expenditures in our school budgets in the right ways. We can use technology and curriculum (like Dreambox and iReady and PEG Writing and Zulama and check out the product reviews at EdSurge for hundreds more ) to redefine learning.

We are going to work hard to be sure that our students in Springville are using technology and assessments in ways that transform their learning. Not just as a substitute.

Dr. Ruben R. Puentedura developed the SAMR model over a decade ago.   And in NYS we’re just getting to the first level, substitution, in 2020.  That’s the best we can do?