ecsBy Jann Wiswall

The new school year is off to a busy start at Ellicottville Central Schools, where enrollment is up to 620 students from pre-K to grade 12 (compared to 610 last year), there are three Kindergarten classes for the first time in many years and there are 19 new middle/high school students.

These and other facts and figures were presented to the Board of Education during its September 17 meeting. The board also learned that 29 students from the ECS District go to other schools by choice (usually because of proximity to those schools), while 136 students who live outside the District attend ECS by request.

Shawn Hunt, the school’s director of technology, was on hand to walk the board through logging in to new Dell Notebook computers recently purchased by the district. 115 laptops have arrived and are replacing old student computers throughout the school. Because they’re portable, the laptops can be moved easily from one place to another for large-group testing or for small group assignments. Hunt said that the students generally are excited about the convenience and functionality of the new tools, as are teachers and administrators.

Superintendent’s Report

ECS Superintendent Mark Ward announced several major pieces of good news to the board. The first is that the State has awarded the Middle/High School “Reward School” status, which only 170 schools across the State have achieved this year. Reward schools are designated when they have shown significant academic growth as measured by state testing. The elementary school, Ward pointed out, was not among those schools only because its students have been testing at a consistently higher level so its “growth” was not as pronounced.

Another piece of good news is that the school’s new recycling program through Casella Resource Solutions is already a huge hit with students and administrators alike. Casella has introduced its Zero-Sort® system, a single-stream recycling process where the school no longer needs to sort different types of recyclables into different bins. All recyclables – glass, aluminum, paper, cardboard, etc. – are collected together and sorted by Casella at its own facilities. Ward says the amount of non-recyclable trash now being collected has dropped by a huge percentage, meaning far less waste is going into landfills. “This is a real difference we can make as a school,” he adds. Students will be learning more about the new system at an assembly scheduled later this month.

Finally, Ward announced that the ECS newsletter, which is sent to parents each month and is posted on the school Web site, has been recognized by the New York School Public Relations Association (NYSPRA) for its outstanding achievement in educational communications. The March 2013 issue that focused on the capital improvement project and referendum won an “Honor” award in the “budget/bond newsletter” category. In the “community newsletter” category, the newsletter won a “Merit” award. NYSPRA will hold an awards luncheon for all winners at the upcoming New York State School Boards Association annual meeting in October.

New Paths to Graduation for Special Education Students

Elementary School Principal Connie Poulin, who also serves as the ECS chairperson of the Committee on Special Education (CSE), described a new process developed by the State for schools to help special education students work toward their high school diplomas or commencement credentials. The detailed process requires students to meet or exceed thresholds on various exams and/or learning standards. Poulin noted that individual students and their parents, as always, work with teachers and administrators to determine their best path to success based on their individual needs and abilities. Students who entered high school in 2010 or earlier are exempt from following the new processes.

The next meeting of the ECS Board of Education will be held Tuesday, October 1 at 7:30 p.m. in the High School Library.