By Josh Hatcher

“Overall, a clean opinion” is the result of the auditors finding after reviewing the 2014-2015 financial situation of the Ellicottville Central School District. The School Board heard from auditing firm R.A. Mercer during its October 6 meeting.

A few changes to the accounting practices need to happen, according to the auditor’s findings, but overall, those changes are minor. New government standards in relationship to pensions reflect some changes in the reports. The board voted to accept the auditor’s report.

Superintendent Mark Ward filled in the board regarding the ongoing capital project, and expressed some displeasure on the status of the electrical work. Ward said he plans to meet with the contractor to see if he can resolve remaining issues.

Ward explained that while there are some minor details to address regarding the stage curtain in the new gym, the bleacher control unit and the locker room showers, most of the contractors have been working with the district to resolve those issues. Ward said the project as a whole is wrapping up nicely.

Ward also shared his satisfaction with the recent inclusion of the West Valley Central School students to the sports teams, but explained that he is not satisfied with the State Athletic Association’s application of the Transfer Rule. He said it’s being unfairly applied to this particular situation, and he has responded with a strongly worded letter to the association. He recently shared his concerns with other superintendants at a convention, who, Ward said, affirmed his position on the matter.

Administrators from West Valley have been invited to an informal meet-and-greet later in the month. Ward said he intends to show off the Ellicottville facility and offer West Valley access to the school’s other extracurricular programs.

The board discussed the idea of establishing a policy regarding texting between faculty, athletics staff and students.

The idea was borne out of a conversation between Ward and a representative from Utica Insurance, as they talked about ways the school can reduce liability and protect staff and students simply by developing policies.  Ward said that Utica insures 99 school districts, and so far, only six have texting policies in place.

Ward noted that most texting “between students and staff is perfectly fine and appropriate.” They’re usually reminders from coaches or teachers about sports or play practices, he said. However, having a policy will help to make sure that parents are involved in that communication. He passed out a sample permission slip, and the board agreed to consider how the policy should be crafted.

Board member Nicole Klein agreed that parents should be involved in texts from coaches and teachers.

“Call me a control freak, but I want to know what’s going on with my kids,” she said.

He also said that the insurance rep went over policies and procedures about sports, and concussions – and Ward affirmed that the school’s policies regarding sports injuries were on track with the insurance recommendations.

Board member Bill Murphy made a motion to approve that the school district pay the college-level course fees for ECS students taking courses offered by the district.

At its last meeting, the board discussed paying next year’s fees and books, but there was some confusion about how this year would work, since many students had already paid for some classes.

High School Principal Bob Miller said he is working with District Treasurer Aimee Kilby to make sure that parents who have paid can be reimbursed. Some of the colleges have not billed the students yet and some students have paid for half of their classes, so a little strategy and planning will have to be put into place. Miller and Kilby assured the board they would make sure it gets resolved.

The board accepted resignations from teacher aide Annette Auteri, and also from Jaclyn James and Suzana Bartimole, who are stepping down from the role of senior class advisors. Miller and Ward assured the board they would be able to find replacements for the senior class advisors.

The next meeting of the ECS School Board will be held on Tuesday, October 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school library.