By Jann Wiswall
The Ellicottville Central School District’s Board is making progress on a number of fronts as the school year gets into full swing.
At its meeting on Oct. 15, 2013, the board reviewed the external audit report for the 2012-2013 school year that was prepared by consultants R.A. Mercer. Mercer, which did the district’s audit for the first time this year, said the process went well and that it was giving the system an “unmodified clean opinion.” While there were some recommendations and footnotes attached to the report, Mercer said that overall the district is in good shape and in good hands with District Treasurer Amy Kilby, who took on the position last winter.
District Superintendent Mark Ward reported that new language related to the APPR plan has been drafted for the teachers’ union contract to ensure it aligns with the approved state plan. The board is reviewing that language and will vote on adopting it at a future meeting.
Ward also reported that the school has obtained pricing for new fencing that will be place around the garbage dumpsters and around the elementary school playground to prevent cars from driving onto school fields. He also said the school is looking to find ways to replace or eliminate a laminating machine, fund a new color copier and upgrade library software.
A meeting of the entire school staff, State Police, the County Sheriff’s Office and the Town of Ellicottville Police was held on Oct. 11 to discuss recommendations from law enforcement on how to continually improve and enhance student safety. Among other actions, 14 staff members were trained to drive school buses in case a school evacuation is required when bus drivers are not on the premises.
The board’s Capital Project Committee Chair, Carl Calarco, briefed the board on the final stages of preparing plans for the renovations to be sent on Nov. 1 to the New York State Education Department for review. The review process is expected to take until April or early May.
Steve Crowley, the board’s Audit Committee chair, reported that the committee met with R.A. Mercer on Oct. 9 to review the audit report that was presented to the full board that evening.
Calarco, who also serves as chair of the board’s Building and Grounds Committee, said the committee reviewed the status of all school buses and will likely recommend decommissioning one bus next year and replacing it with a new one. He noted that the school is always in a regular rotation with buses. The committee also discussed phasing out usage of a 2001 truck and replacing it with a plow for the school’s tractor. In addition, the committee is awaiting proposals from appraisal firms to assess the value of some of the school’s land and timber.
Both Elementary School Principal Connie Poulin and Middle/High School Principal Bob Miller said the school year is off to a great start. The APPR is dominating a lot of teachers’ time, but with a year under their belts, Miller observed that the process seems a bit less stressful this year. School clubs, sports, field trips and activities all are going well and according to plan.
The next meeting of the ECS Board of Education will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 5, at 7:30 p.m. in the High School Library.