By Jann Wiswall

The Ellicottville Central School Board met on Tuesday, Feb. 26, beginning with a presentation by Ellicottville French teacher Dolores Whistler on a proposed student trip to France in the spring of 2014.

Whistler, who has coordinated past ECS trips, proposed to offer the trip to students in grades 9-12 who are taking French language classes. The 10-day trip to Paris, Versailles, the Loire Valley, St. Malo, Mont St. Michel, the D-Day beaches and Rouen is an opportunity for students to explore the culture, history and art of France while being immersed in the language.

While she acknowledged that the $3,900+ price tag is steep (due in part to increases in the cost of fuel), students who participate will get their money’s worth in quality, safety and educational richness. The trip, sponsored by the American Council for International Studies (ACIS), requires a minimum of six students. Twelve students and four parents, along with Whistler, took the trip in 2012.

The board noted the importance of travel as part of the educational process and approved the proposed travel plan and itinerary.

Capital Project Updates

During his Superintendent’s Report, Mark Ward updated the board on community presentations to the public about the proposed Capital Improvement Project. Presentations have already been made at senior centers, the Town of Ellicottville Board meeting and other locations. Additional presentations are scheduled for the Great Valley and Ellicottville fire departments and the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce. In addition, there will be informational tables at upcoming in-school events.

The formal Public Hearing on the project will be held on Tuesday, March 12 at 7 p.m. in the High School cafeteria, in preparation for the March 19 referendum from 1-8 p.m. in the Elementary School Foyer. Absentee ballots are available now for pick up at the school. Voters must mail absentee ballots no later than March 12.

Ward said that he and the staff are working on the March issue of the newsletter, which is due to come out before the public hearing on the 12th. He prepared the chart below to show the distribution of the total cost and percentage of the capital project budget that are associated with the renovations.

In other business, Ward referred the board to a draft calendar for the 2013-2014 school year. He noted that this is a preliminary draft and that it won’t be finalized until he sees what the majority of neighboring school districts are planning.

He also reminded the board that the first of several 2013-14 budget work sessions is scheduled for March 5.

Committee Reports

Chair of the Building and Grounds Committee James Wiley said his committee is recommending the purchase of a new snowplow and the leasing of two new school buses in next year’s budget.

Ward, reporting for the board’s Technology Committee, said that technology teacher Chris Edwards would like to start a robotics team at the elementary school level next school year. He said that the program has been extremely popular with middle school students; the longer-range plan is to add a high school team in the near future. The challenge will be finding a coach for the elementary team.

The Technology Committee also proposes to purchase 130 Netbooks for the school on installment payments over five years. This proposal will be considered during the budget process.

Principals’ Reports

Elementary School Principal Connie Poulin referred the board to a written joint principals’ report from Poulin and Middle/High School Principal Bob Miller to their staffs. The report details recent activities related to the state’s required Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) of teachers, along with the principals’ expectations for teachers over the next several months.

Poulin’s report noted that she has been practicing with the APPR Right Reason Technology software program and working with a teacher-volunteer on the input process. As part of the APPR, she explained that there is an observation component, which requires the principal to sit in on classrooms and observe teachers and students in action. Observations are set to be completed before the district’s spring break.

Miller’s reported on binders all teachers are required to complete that show evidence of student performance and teacher effectiveness. He has been impressed with the binders he has reviewed already.

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