School Board Addresses Year-End Needs, Future Projects

By Jann Wiswall

Even though the school year is coming to an end, everyone at ECS — students, teachers, parents, staff and the school board — remains as busy as ever with testing, assessments, activities, events, and planning for next year and beyond.

At the Tuesday, June 4,  Board of Education meeting, ECS Superintendent Mark Ward updated the board about the latest progress on building renovations and shared preliminary floor plans of several areas, including a home economics room, a proposed sketch of the new back entrance to the high school, revised gym floor plans, a sound booth and mechanical spaces.

Ward said BOCES technology staff has met with their ECS counterparts to advise and consult on numerous issues that must be resolved before construction begins. And the architects and project managers continue to meet with teachers and staff to address their specific needs. He also reported that processes are being put in place to handle payments for renovation expenses as they come in.

In other news, Ward relayed that he has found the ideal person to serve as the new volleyball coach for next year. The board will be asked to approve her hiring at the next scheduled board meeting.

Board member and Audit Committee chair Steve Crowley reported that his committee has reviewed the draft internal audit report prepared by Management Advisory Group (MAG), and that the results are all positive. Crowley said the process has been “productive, though onerous,” and that good procedures have been put in place. He also reported that the state has eliminated the requirement for school districts with fewer than 1,500 students to undertake internal audits on an annual basis going forward. He said that given this new policy, MAG kindly will release ECS from its contract signed last year. The board agreed that it will look for opportunities to keep MAG in the loop as a resource in years without audits.

Next, board member and Building & Grounds committee chair James Wiley said that his committee is investigating the possibility of selling some of the school district’s land. The first step in the process is to determine the property’s value. Two motions were put to the board for approval — one to hire Bruce E. Robinson, Inc., Forestry Consultants to perform a “cruise of the district’s timber to determine the market value,” and the other to have the property appraised. The board approved both motions.

Principals’ Reports

Elementary School Principal Connie Poulin reported that testing and teacher assessments continue to keep everyone extremely busy. In addition, the ongoing audit of the school’s Special Education Program has added another layer of work to teacher, parent and administrator schedules. Poulin said that the audit is turning out to be a very productive process, however, and that the state auditor has provided positive feedback all along the way. Indeed, the auditor told Poulin that it is a “rare treat to be in an environment where students are fully included,” and has spoken very highly of the ECS special education teachers.

Poulin also reported that pre-K and kindergarten classes are full for next year.

Middle/High School Principal Bob Miller agreed that the number of tests and the complexity of scoring them are keeping his entire staff hopping, as well. And, in addition to state-mandated testing, the final exam schedule in now in place. He said that testing companies have been sending pilot/field tests and asking the school to participate. He reported that many districts in the state have passed resolutions not to participate in such voluntary testing and asked the board to consider doing the same. The board agreed to draft a resolution to that effect.

Miller also reported that year-end activities have been abundant. Last week’s academic awards banquet, this week’s sports banquet and Jazz Club performance, plus next week’s Daddy/Daughter Dance and preparations for graduation are keeping the school abuzz night and day.

The next meeting of the ECS School Board will be held on June 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school library. The board’s reorganizational meeting, where new board members are sworn in, officers are elected and committees are established, has been rescheduled for July 9 at 7:30 p.m.