By Jann Wiswall

With the first day of school just three weeks away, the ECS Board of Education had a full agenda at its meeting on Aug. 13, 2013, following two public hearings.

One hearing was for approval to use not more than $25,000 from the Repair Reserve Fund to rehabilitate the cafeteria. The second was to approve changes to the school’s Code of Conduct and Discipline Code.

No members of the public were present to comment on either issue, and both were reviewed and unanimously approved by the Board. Middle/High School Principal Bob Miller said that information about the changes to the Code of Conduct will be shared with students, parents and teachers.

The first topic on the regular agenda was an update on the capital project. The architectural plans are now considerably completed and detailed estimating is well under way. Superintendent Mark Ward said there will be a full presentation of updated drawings and budget figures at its next meeting on Aug. 27 at 7:30 p.m.

Ward also briefed the board on state test results, which were released by the Education Department on Aug. 3. English Language Arts (ELA) and Math tests were given to students in grades 3-8. Overall, ECS students did very well on the tests, which were conducted for the first time in 2013, and compared to other schools in Cattaraugus County, ECS ranked highest or second highest in almost all grade levels and tests. Ward noted that the tests establish a new baseline for achievement and that the focus for the next school year will be on continued improvement.

A big red flag went up for grade 3, however, where results in both the ELA and Math tests were below county, BOCES and state averages. Elementary School Principal Connie Poulin explained that these results were surprising because the formative assessments teachers were using to help prepare for the tests indicated that students were “on the mark.” She noted that her staff is aggressively addressing the issue and making significant changes for the next school year.

“This won’t happen again,” she said.

Other Business

The board approved a number of resolutions at its meeting. They included:

Selection of Energy Mark as the supplier of natural gas.

Selection of Casella Waste Management of New York to provide trash and recycling pick up and promote recycling by students in all grades.

Lease of two school buses with delivery by Sept. 30.

Provide a letter of support for the proposed Ellicottville-Great Valley Recreational Trail for a grant proposal.

Appointment of Tracy Stokes as junior varsity soccer coach for 2013-14.

In addition, because there already are 43 children enrolled for kindergarten this year, the school will add a third kindergarten class. As a result, the board approved creation of a new full-time teaching position for the class and appointed Caitlyn Riggs Keller to that tenure-track position. Keller, who has been teaching at the school for two years, has a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and coached the high school Odyssey of the Mind team that went to World Finals in May.

The board also approved drafts of new school policies related to student cell phone use, athletic participation, dual sports participation and academic eligibility.