By Jann Wiswall

By this time next week, Ellicottville Central School will have sent out requests for bids for construction of the school renovation project, set to begin at the end of the academic year.

As ECS Superintendent Mark Ward reported at the school board meeting on Tuesday, April 29, the bid documents have been approved by the school’s attorney and the school will be scheduling a walk-through for potential bidders in the next few weeks.

The only hold-up at this point is the state’s official approval of the project. Ward expects this to come through some time in the first two weeks of May. Bids cannot be awarded, of course, until approval is received.

In preparation for construction, however, school staff has prepared a lengthy list of all the items that are being saved and reused after construction. Items include smoke alarms, wall clocks, various hardware, plumbing fixtures, basketball backboards and the like. In addition, Ward said he was also looking into whether or not to save the eight sets of portable bleachers from the gym for use outside during sporting events.

In other business, Ward reported that ECS senior Ashley Bognar was awarded 1st place in Precision Heavy Equipment Operation at the recent state level SkillsUSA competition held in Syracuse on April 23-25 (see story, page 5)

He also said he is researching how Governor Cuomo’s plan to provide property tax rebates to qualified homeowners will be calculated. According to preliminary information provided by the state, formulas are quite complicated. Ward said he will keep the board posted as details become available.

Under new business, the board approved motions to approve John Mowery as a volunteer for the balance of the 2013-14 school year. It also approved Oswego University student Christopher Huckabone to work under the supervision of Chris Edwards to gain 35 hours of field experience in grades 6-9 technology education. And, the board approved the 8th grade class trip to Washington, D.C., June 23-24.

The board also approved the 2014-15 school district calendar.

Elementary School Principal Connie Poulin reported that state English Language Arts assessments for grades 3-8 were completed last month. While the process went well, Poulin and many teachers feel there is a disconnect between the Common Core curriculum and the content of the assessments.

“Common Core is on target,” she said, adding that “this really is the material we want our young people to know.”

The problem she sees is that the assessments are not aligned with that content. And, because teachers and administrators are under a non-disclosure agreement (they’re not allowed to talk to parents or anyone else about the actual contents of the assessments), they are feeling disheartened.

“It’s awkward,” Poulin said, and “it’s just wrong.”

The next meeting of the Ellicottville School Board will be held Tuesday, May 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school library. A public hearing on the proposed 2014-15 budget will be held at that time, in preparation for the budget vote on May 20.