By Elizabeth Riggs

The upcoming Ellicottville Lacrosse Festival, and changes to the student cell phone policy were hot topics of conversation during last Tuesday’s board meeting at Ellicottville Central Schools.

The upcoming Ellicottville Lacrosse Festival, which is taking place in the village Sept. 22-24, is anticipated to bring up to 5,000 people to the area for matches which will take place on the Ellicottville football and soccer fields.

With the potential large crowds gathering on school grounds, the Board posed questions regarding bathroom facilities for all visitors and concerns about interference with the school’s homecoming dance, which is held at the school during the same weekend.

“We will have maintenance here. Our sports boosters

will get the concession stand, which will be good,” said ECS Superintendent Bob Miller, who also promised to find out more information from the Rhino Lacrosse group, which is organizing the event.

Changes to the student cell phone policy, a hot topic for all school board members and administrators, include the addition of fourth offense guidelines, as well as explicit language explaining serious disciplinary actions if students are caught taking pictures or videos of other students and posting or sharing them.

Miller explained that enforcing rules with student cell phones is becoming increasingly hard, as sometimes they can be used in classrooms as instructional aides.

“It’s tough, because you know parents are contacting their kids during the day,” Miller said.

“Parents are fighting the same battles at home,” said Middle School and High School Principal Erich Ploetz. “When the school backs it up, it can help.”

The Board also discussed planning a potential board retreat in which the new school board members could focus on goals and preparation as laid out in their strategic planning document.

“We would need to talk at length about anything we would like to cover,” said Miller, who also proposed the idea of hiring an independent facilitator to coordinate the meeting. “A facilitator would allow us to be a team and then one of us doesn’t have to run a retreat.”

The board discussed a potential October retreat, after scheduling of other school events had taken place.

Miller also mentioned that room renovations are currently on schedule. The renovations, which will add on three classrooms in the lower level of the high school, will be leased to CA BOCES for the expansion of their Big Picture Program.

The security camera installation is also on schedule, though it may take place when students are back to school. According to Miller, the equipment is ready to be installed, but UNS is waiting on an electrician to complete the work. The new system will include the installation of monitors at the entrances in order for personnel to more safely monitor school visitors.

In other business, Ploetz expressed his gratitude for an easy transition to the new position.

“Having started in a few school districts, I can tell you that my first few weeks here couldn’t have gone any better for me in terms of being supported by my colleagues and students,” said Ploetz. “I feel as if I’ve been working with Connie (Poulin) and Bob for years. It’s a credit to them.”

Elementary Principal Connie Poulin reported that elementary staff have been given data reports on state ELA and Math assessments.

“They have been given all the data reports on how our students have done and they are able to compare to the region and they are also able to compare by classroom,” Poulin said. “They can talk about how they approached instruction. It’s good team building; it’s good conversation and the teachers do a good job rolling up their sleeves.”

Poulin also reported that the recent sixth grade orientation reached a record turn out.

“We had the largest turn out ever for sixth grade orientation,” Poulin said. “I think it’s something that we’ve grown into to help make an easier transition for that fifth to sixth grade year. It went really well.”

In other business, the Board approved the following permanent, part-time positions:

•Sherry Charlesworth, cafeteria worker

•Leanne Pfeffer, teacher aide

•Kristen Pearl, teacher aide

•Kristin Brady, teacher aide

•Linda Baldwin, cafeteria worker

•Patricia Blakesly, teacher aide

In addition, the Board approved the appointment of Mindy Stormer to tenured full-time elementary teacher, for a four-year probationary period.

Lastly, the Board accepted the retirement of Kevin Blendinger, whose last day of work will be Oct. 30.

The next ECS School Board Meeting will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 5 at 7 p.m. in the high school library.