By Elizabeth Riggs

After teeing off with a convincing PowerPoint presentation by multiple ECS female golfers during Tuesday night’s ECS School Board meeting, the Board voted unanimously to approve their request for the formation of a girls’ golf team.

The students, ranging from 8th grade to seniors, presented to the Board their request for their own team based on current levels of interest in girls’ golf at the school, the number of female golfers that were previously playing on the boys’ team, and the fact that they would be able to use ladies tees, which would likely increase their scores after having used men’s tees in prior competitions.

The students also pointed out that the addition of the program would require a minimal investment from the school, as golf is a sport in which the athlete provides their own equipment. In addition, the school already has an agreement with Holiday Valley for practices, and the girls knew of at least eight other area girls’ golf programs against which they can compete.

“They came here genuinely wanting to do this and we’ve got teachers that are willing to help. Girls should play against girls,” said Superintendent Mark Ward. “What’s great about it too, is it’s a lifetime sport. I think it’s great.”

In other news, Ward touched on the upcoming Professional Development Day on Friday, March 17, which is a day off for students.

“We do have a number of things planned. We have an attorney from Harrison Beach who is going to be coming to speak to the staff on a variety of topics that have to do with social media, Internet safety, and Facebook—a lot of things that I think sometimes some people just don’t think about. We hope it will be informative and valuable to our staff,” Ward said.

Ward also highlighted some of his take-aways from a recent trip to Albany in which he met with other superintendents, and discussed potential threats to government funding that could trickle down to schools from Medicaid cuts.

“The federal government is looking to cut back dramatically on Medicaid to the states which could in turn cut back dramatically on revenues the states have to then share with the school districts. I’m not saying our Medicaid would be reduced, but it’s that federal money that is used in other ways to help the state,” Ward said. “The revenues this year are down for the state, meaning negative, compared to what was projected. We just have to be mindful of that in the development of our budget and the ending of our school year. Wherever we can save a dime, we save a dime. That will drive some of the decisions of the board as we develop the 2017-2018 budget.”

As the Board continues to work on next school year’s budget, in the upcoming school newsletter, Ward will also be publishing the second article in a five-part series that talks about state revenue projections, and where school district revenue comes from.

“I think it’s important that people know more about it,” Ward said.

In elementary school news, Elementary Principal Connie Poulin briefed the board on the district’s changeover to a 365-day review model for IEPs. Until the recent changeover, ECS was one of only two districts left in the CABOCES region that hadn’t switched to the 365 model, and instead remained on an annual spring review cycle.

“The special ed team made the decision to make the switch to go to this anniversary date model based on initial referral,” Poulin said. “We’re looking forward to it. We think it will streamline and make for better service to students and make us stay on top of IEPs a little better.”

Poulin also touched on a new accommodation for the ELA state assessments this year that allows the opportunity to have tests read to students with severely-limited ability to decode print. According to Poulin, there is little guidance from NYSED on what qualified as “severely-limited” and therefore concerns about consistency across the state.

“We all need to be at peace with the comfort of what that really means,” Poulin said.

Poulin and Principal Miller also highlighted a variety of upcoming ECS events, including: Odyssey of the Mind Parent Night, which will be held on Thursday, March 23 at 5:30 p.m. in the high school cafeteria; a  National Honor Society Induction Ceremony, which will be held on Sunday, March 26 at 6 p.m. at the Great Valley Volunteer Fire Company Clubhouse; the Winter Sports Banquet, which will be held on Monday, March 13 at 6 p.m.; and two weekends of All County Chorus at Cattaraugus-Little Valley School on March 11 and March 18.

Lastly, in a technology round-up, Board Member Roger Spell noted that the school will use an approved $110,000 for the installation of 270 degree security cameras, which will provide multiple security benefits to the buildings, and also mentioned that the administration is in discussions to start an ECS Facebook page.

“We are just starting to chat about it,” Poulin confirmed. “We are talking to other districts about positives and negatives of the page.”

The Board retired into executive session to discuss personnel matters before adjourning. It will host a special 2017-2018 budget work session next Tuesday, March 14 at 7 p.m. in the high school library.