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

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?

Preferred Building Substitute Teachers Needed

Every year we employ preferred “building” substitute teachers. A preferred building substitute teacher teaches on a daily, itinerant basis when students are in attendance. What a great opportunity for someone who’s recently graduated or hasn’t yet obtained a teaching position!

If you are a NYSED certified teacher and would be interested in a position in which you substitute every day in one of our buildings (the same building every day),  please submit your application to the Personnel Clerk, SGI CSD, 307 Newman Street, Springville, New York 14141. Complete the application for instructional personnel, available under the Employment Opportunities link at www.springvillegi.org. The salary is $110 per day for our preferred building subs which is higher than our daily substitute certified teacher rate of $95/$90 daily substitute non-certified teacher substitute rate.

Applications are due as soon as possible and we will work to have our preferred building substitutes identified for BOE consideration at the Monday, September 12 BOE meeting.

We accept regular substitute applications for all positions throughout the school year. Please consider applying to substitute at SGI!

Springville-Griffith Institute Central School District is an equal opportunity employer.

Upcoming Communication from SGI

Residents will soon be receiving a “Save the Date” postcard in the mail with important dates regarding our upcoming September 27, 2016 Capital Project Vote. The public hearing will be September 20, 2016 at 7:00 pm in the HS Library.

You can also expect our school calendar, which was beautifully created by District Clerk Kathy Tucker, in the mail as soon as this weekend or next week. An electronic copy of this calendar will also be linked on the district website.

Our district newsletter, The Bulletin, will be delivered to residents soon after school begins. The Bulletin includes a four page insert with information on the finalized capital project proposal. I will also post the components of that insert here for residents who prefer to read their news on line.

Good communication is important to us. We want to listen as well as we are sharing information. Remember that we are available via email, for a phone conversation or a visit–I can be reached at 592-3230. Hope to see everyone at our many events this fall!

 

Announcing Our New Springville Elementary Principal

At the August 8, 2016 BOE meeting, we were pleased to appoint Mr. Christopher Scarpine as the new SES Principal. Mr. Scarpine has been the Middle School Assistant Principal for the Lake Shore Evans-Brant CSD since April, 2014. Prior to that he was an SES classroom teacher of grades 3, 4, and 5 from 2005-2014. Chris brings a great set of leadership skills to his principalship and we can’t wait for him to get started!

We are hopeful that Mr. Scarpine can begin prior to the start of the school year but must also be respectful of the needs of his current district. On August 15, 2016, Ms. Marcole Feuz and Mrs. Kathy Townsend will transition to their new roles as Colden Elementary Principal and Principal for Special Programs. To help facilitate a successful transition for all, Ms. Rochelle Sarikey, Director of Special Education who is located in SES, has offered to lead SES for the weeks in between principals. Thank you Ms. Sarikey!

We are delighted to welcome Chris Scarpine back to SGI as the Springville Elementary School Principal! Congratulations Mr. Scarpine.

The Return of the SGI Newsletter, the Bulletin

We are excited to bring back the Bulletin, our SGI newsletter! Given this week’s unfortunate closure of our local newspaper, the Springville Journal, it’s fortuitous that we have been planning this for the last few months.

Attention all SGI employees: If you have an article of interest to our school community that you would like to see published in our district newsletter, please submit the article and applicable photos to Laurie Pfeffer in our district office. You can email Laurie at lpfeffer@springvillegi.org.

We are planning seven issues to be published and mailed during the 2016-17 school year. The deadline for our first issue is August 5, 2016.

The Best-Laid Plans. . . often go awry.

This saying is adapted from “To a Mouse”, by Robert Burns and it clearly applies to our hiring process as outlined for our SES Principal position. Today is the closing date and I was astonished to receive only a few applications. I thought we’d gotten everything right: identified our process, invited participants on the interview committee, all set to go for 8/8 BOE Approval, communicated the process to our school community here. The best-laid plans, right?

As I studied the applications I started to think “why are our only applicants from Springville?” And why did we receive so many applications for SMS and SHS Principal and so few for this position? Which turned into the question asked of District Clerk Kathy Tucker, “are we sure the Buffalo News ran our ad as submitted?”

And here’s where it goes awry. The Buffalo News did not run our ad. They are now– our SES Principal position will be advertised in print and on their website for the next week at no additional charge to the district. This means we are moving our closing date to next Tuesday, July 26. 

So, Help Still Wanted, Amazing Principal Candidates Please Apply! And for our local candidates who applied, hang on–you’re in the mix.  The new interview process will be as follows:

Round #1 Screening Interviews: Wednesday, July 27, 2016, beginning at 8:00 am.

Round #2 with a Committee including a representative from each union and 3-4 SES teachers: Monday, August 1, 2016, beginning at 8:30 am.

Round #3 Final Interview with me and a BOE member from the Personnel Committee, Thursday, August 4, 2016, beginning at 8:30 am.

This should still afford us the time to have our new SES Principal selected and BOE appointed at our next BOE meeting on August 8, 2016.

Help Wanted: Amazing Principal Candidates Please Apply

With the movement of Kathy Townsend to our Principal for Special Programs position and Marcole Feuz to the Colden Elementary Principal position, we have posted and advertised for our K-5 Springville Elementary Principal position. What an incredible opportunity to work with an amazing faculty and staff with wonderful students and families! 

We are looking for a positive, enthusiastic, caring and dedicated building leader who wants the chance to make a difference in the lives of our children. Application files are due to me in the district office by July 18, 2016. I’m excited to review all of the applications.

Our process will include three rounds of interviews. The first round of interviews will be a screening interview in which we will interview as many of the candidates as we find are qualified and fit our criteria. This round is scheduled for Thursday, July 21, 2016 and will be with me, our directors, JoAnn DePue and Shelly Sarikey, and two representatives of our faculty.

Successful candidates from round #1 will be invited back to a committee interview in which every union is invited to send a volunteer, SES will have 3-4 teacher representatives, and the PTA will be invited to participate. Round #2 interviews will be scheduled for Wednesday, July 27, 2016.

From those round #2 committee interviews we will likely move two finalists on to a final round #3 interview with me and one BOE member from the Personnel Committee on August 1, 2016. We will then be happy to ask for BOE approval of our new SES Principal at our August 8, 2016 BOE meeting.

Announcing Our New Colden Elementary Principal

As sometimes happens, one change can lead to another. With our current Colden Elementary Principal, Mrs. Kathy Townsend, accepting a new position within the District  an opportunity at Colden Elementary opens.

I am delighted to announce that our current Springville Elementary Principal, Ms. Marcole Feuz, has accepted the Colden position! This move is a homecoming of sorts for Ms. Feuz, as she was raised in Colden and currently resides there with her husband. Previously an assistant principal in the SGI District for 3 years, Marcole has been the SES Principal since 2011.

In Marcole’s own words,

I am so proud of the work we have accomplished together at SES! The professional working relationships and relationships with our wonderful families have been incredible for me. We have focused on our students and taken SES “above and beyond” as we intended.

I am excited about the opportunity to return to Colden as the elementary principal, to work with what I know is an excellent faculty and staff, and to serve the families of the community I love so much.

While the planned changes bring someone new for every building in the district for the 2016-17 school year, I believe that we are at a tipping point as a District right now. We have the right people in the right positions and an administrative team who is committed to working together to make good decisions for the right reasons to move our district forward. Good things are happening Griffins!