ECS-Courtney-SigningBy Jann Wiswall

The Nov. 19 meeting of the Ellicottville Central School Board of Education began with a presentation by Senior Class President Jordan Curtis and Michaela Pierce, also a senior, on the proposed senior class trip to Chicago.

Curtis outlined plans for the trip, scheduled for May 15-18, 2014. The itinerary includes visits to the Shedd Aquarium, the Magnificent Mile, the Skydeck at Willis Tower and the Navy Pier, along with a bus tour of the city, dinner at the famous Ed Debevics, a Chicago Spirit dinner cruise, tickets to a performance by the Blue Man Group and more. The trip is organized by 1st Choice Educational Tours, Inc.  At least four chaperones will travel with the students.

Curtis said that, as of now, nearly 40 students have expressed interest in going on the trip out of a class of 58. Pricing has not yet been determined as it varies depending on the number of students who sign up. The good news, though, is that BOCES will help support the cost of tickets for the Blue Man Group performance and the Shedd Aquarium, which will reduce the cost to students and their families. Pending board approval, she said, final pricing will be worked out.

The board was unanimously supportive of the plan and approved the request. Superintendent Mark Ward said this is the first ECS senior class to plan a trip to the Windy City.

Ward reported on a number of other important topics at the meeting.

First, the list of All-Star and All-State athletes has not yet been announced, but several ECS students are expected to make one or more lists. Volleyball player Courtney Scanlon, who may well make both lists, has signed a letter of intent to play Division I volleyball at Stony Brook University. Scanlon is the first ECS student to sign for a collegiate Division I sport.

Ward also reported that many schools in Section 6 are considering merging sports teams for competitive reasons. Many schools in the area are losing enrollment, which makes it difficult for them to continue fielding JV and Varsity sports teams. In Ellicottville, the football team merged with West Valley last year, but West Valley only added one player to the team. Ward does not expect to merge with West Valley again, but is considering merging with a different school if there is mutual interest.

ECS also faces the challenge of finding locations to practice and play basketball and volleyball in 2014-15 while the school is under construction. Alternate locations to hold performances and concerts also need to be identified. Ward is speaking with superintendents in other districts about how this might work. School Board Member Steve Crowley mentioned that the newly renovated auditorium in Ellicottville’s Town Center (the former Extension Service Building) might be an option for smaller performances and events. Ward said he would look into that option.

In other business, Ward said that ECS is fully prepared for snow season, with salt, sand and vehicles at the ready. He also noted that the new fencing around the dumpsters has been installed.

He also said that the board’s Building and Grounds Committee had received five bids for appraisal of the 120 acres of vacant land that the school owns behind and above the school adjacent to state land and Holiday Valley. They recommended accepting the $2,900 bid from Rochester appraisal firm Bruckner, Tillett, Rossi, Cahill & Associates. The board agreed.

The board also approved a proposal to hire seven parents, teachers and staff to serve as Odyssey of the Mind coaches this year. Six teams already have formed — three in elementary school, two in middle school and one in high school. Colleen Bower, who served as team coordinator last year, will serve in that role again this year. ECS had budgeted for only five teams this year, but the cost of adding another team is minimal ($356) and, the board agreed, is worth the cost in order to allow all interested students the opportunity to participate in the unique learning experience.

The board also approved appointment of five homework club advisors for the 2013-14 school year and 12 substitute advisors.

Elementary School Principal Connie Poulin said that the first report cards of the year went out last week. Generally, she was pleased with the results, especially among a cohort of sixth grade girls who showed big improvements in their GPAs.

“This group is showing signs of academic competitiveness,” she said, which is a very good sign at this age.

Poulin also noted that she has begun APPR-required teacher observations for the year and that they are going smoothly. She said that now that teachers and staff know what to expect, there is more comfort with the process.

Ward reported on behalf of Middle/High School Principal Bob Miller, who was absent, that students had been busy over the past few weeks. Eight students went to a math competition at JCC, 16 students visited Olean’s Challenger Center, and numerous students had a tour of BOCES programs.

The next meeting of the ECS School Board will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. in the High School Library. All are welcome to attend.