BOARD OF EDUCATION

MIDDLETOWN, NEW YORK

NOVEMBER 20, 2003

 

A regular meeting of the Board of Education of the Enlarged City School District of Middletown, New York was held Thursday, November 20, 2003, at the Board of Education Office, 223 Wisner Avenue, Board President Robin Markovits, presiding. 

Present:            Mr. Crescenzo, Mrs. Elliott, Mr. Estrada, Mrs. Knapp,
                           Mr. McCormack, Mr. Perrino, Mrs. Botti, Mrs. Markovits  – 8.

Absent: Dr. Best – 1.                          

Others Present: Patricia McLeod, Acting Superintendent
                              Timothy Conway, Deputy Superintendent
                              Selena Fischer, Director for Pupil Personnel & Special Services
                              Ellen Kaplan, Director for Personnel Services
                              Peter Ancona, Director of Technology

Mrs. Markovits called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. Mrs. Botti made a motion, seconded by Mr. McCormack, to have an executive session for matters relating to specific personnel.  Motion was unanimously approved.

Public session resumed at 7:30 p.m.  Mrs. Markovits led the pledge to the flag.

Mrs. McLeod acknowledged the efforts of the various support personnel who work in the District by presenting certificates of appreciation to Maureen Quaglia and Sue Castro, representing the District’s Food Services staff, and to George Caffrey and Steve Lucash, representing the District’s Buildings and Grounds staff.

Mrs. Markovits said that she, Mr. Perrino, and Mrs. McLeod attended the soccer athletes awards banquet.  She said that this was a tremendous acknowledgement of what the students, coaches, and parents do to support this program.  Mrs. Markovits announced that the Middletown boys soccer team won the good sportsmanship award from the referees of Orange County.  She said that this award is based on the behavior of athletes, coaches, and spectators.  Mrs. Markovits said this is the second time in a row that Middletown High School athletes won a good sportsmanship award; the girls varsity softball players won this honor this past spring.  Mrs. Markovits noted that Middletown is Section IX champions for boys soccer, and congratulated all those involved for demonstrating what our Athletic Director, Mr. Jefferson, calls the four C’s -- competency, character, civility, and citizenship.

Mr. Perrino commented that referees have requested to be assigned to Middletown soccer games because of the good citizenship of participants and fans.  Mr. Perrino also noted that the fundraising efforts for the lighting of the soccer fields is very close to be being realized.

 Mrs. McLeod said that the awards banquet was well attended and Middie pride prevailed throughout the environment and that sportsmanship is one of the greatest awards that can be won.

Mr. McCormack made a motion, seconded by Mrs. Knapp, to approve the minutes of October 30, 2003.

Ayes:  Crescenzo, Elliott, Estrada, Knapp, McCormack, Perrino, Botti, Markovits – 8.  Motion was unanimously approved.

No written communications were read and no responses to previous questions were given.

Visitors:

Fred Isseks spoke about the Middletown City Council’s imminent vote on the Masada plant, which will convert garbage to ethanol.

Melissa Knapp, Middletown High School Key Club president, said that enrollment has now increased to 58 members.  She said that the Key Club is collecting coats, gloves, etc. for needy persons and will also have a spaghetti dinner whose proceeds will go to pediatric hospitals. 

Board Member Reports:

Mrs. Botti said that Mrs. Markovits served on a panel which addressed crisis communication at the NYSSBA Annual Convention.  She said that a write-up of the panel discussion was presented in NYSSBA’s On Board newspaper.

Mr. Perrino noted the passing of Beth Collard, who was a secondary math instructor for many years in the District.   Mr. Perrino also complimented the staff at the High School and the Middletown Police Department for quickly addressing the issue of gang violence.

Mr. McCormack made a motion, seconded by Mr. Estrada, to approve Personnel Memorandum #8, copy attached.

Mrs. Elliott asked several questions concerning substitute pay, the hours of the GED program, and the hours of the extended day programs.

Mr. Perrino requested periodic updates on the District’s Gifted and Talented program.

Ayes:  Crescenzo, Elliott, Estrada, Knapp, McCormack, Perrino, Botti, Markovits – 8.  Motion was unanimously approved.

Mrs. Kaplan presented three staff members who received tenure this evening:  Cherie Gluckman, teaching assistant at Chorley; Sylvia Hidalgo-Rivera, bilingual teacher at Maple Hill; and Janet Davis, Assistant Principal at Twin Towers.

Mrs. Elliott made a motion, seconded by Mr. Estrada, requesting personnel folders for the purpose of conducting personnel business in executive session.

Ayes:  Crescenzo, Elliott, Estrada, Knapp, McCormack, Perrino, Botti, Markovits – 8.  Motion was unanimously approved.

District Presentations:

Susan Short, principal of Mechanicstown School, reviewed some of the enhancements made to the School District’s Code of Conduct.  Some of the items Mrs. Short highlighted were: an introductory letter from the Superintendent of Schools will be included in the Code; the cover will reflect that the Code is part of SAVE legislation; a parent summary will be available; the Code will be translated into Spanish; media presentations will be prepared to demonstrate the rules which must be followed in our schools; a District discipline committee will be formed to look at procedures; discipline data will be computerized.  Mrs. Markovits said that the contents of the Code must also be reviewed annually, and any necessary modifications must be incorporated into the Code.  She noted that two new Board policies – Reporting of Child Abuse and Executive Misconduct – must be part of a modified Code.  The Board must also re-adopt the Code every year.  Mrs. McLeod said that a modified Code will be presented to the Board after winter break.

District Updates:

Mr. Conway reported that pursuant to NCLB requirements, the District has made arrangements to offer Supplemental Education Services to eligible students in English Language Arts and Math through Kaplan Learning Services or Sylvan Learning Center.  He said that enrollment in these programs must be in compliance with federal law which mandates that first priority be given to the lowest income, lowest-achieving students.  Services will begin around December 18 with the first emphasis on ELA services to prepare students for the upcoming assessments in January.  Mr. Conway said that payment for these services is from the re-allocation of Title I funds, as per federal mandate.  He noted that both Sylvan and Kaplan keep track of pre- and post-assessments so that student progress can be tracked. 

Mrs. McLeod introduced the topic of a 55 passing grade for all Regents examinations.  She said that the Board has the right to annually approve a benchmark for an accepted grade for passing of Regents exams.  Mrs. McLeod said that the instructional staff supports the Board approving a 55 passing grade. Bernard Cohen, principal at Middletown High School, said that staff around the State have been very concerned about the current approach to developing the Regents examinations, and many schools are looking at substituting alternative testing, such as SAT’s or AP’s, which are approved by the State.  Mr. Cohen said that the curriculum that is required to be taught does not compare to the scope and sequence of the test that is given.  He said that if you compare the State Education Department’s curriculum outline to the Regents test for the curriculum, there is a 55% correlation.  Mr. Cohen said that every high school in the county who has adopted a passing grade has recommended a 55 passing grade.  The Board will review a position paper on this recommendation, and consider establishing a passing grade at the next Board meeting.

Mrs. McLeod reported that Mr. Scott will be running staff through basic drills involving safety precautions on a quarterly basis.

Mrs. McLeod also reported that she has received very good feedback from staff on the November 7 Superintendent’s Conference Day.  She thanked Patricia Reilly and Ginny Mucarri for the efforts in this endeavor.

Mrs. McLeod noted that District staff is well into the budget preparation process for the 2004-05 budget.  Mrs. Markovits said that the Board will consider budget parameters at one of the December Board meetings.  Mr. Conway pointed up that Mrs. Case is computerizing most of the District’s budget preparation forms in an effort to eliminate the volume of budget forms previously used.

Mrs. McLeod concluded by saying that the 5th grade Social Study exams were conducted on November 19 and 20.  She also said that meetings have been held with the PTO/A Council to explain the December 16 bond referendum.

 Mr. McCormack made a motion, seconded by Mrs. Elliott, to approve Special Services Memorandum #8, copy attached.

Ayes:  Crescenzo, Elliott, Estrada, Knapp, McCormack, Perrino, Botti, Markovits – 8.  Motion was unanimously approved.

Mrs. Botti noted that the Board arranges for the appropriate education of our classified children, relying on the recommendations of the Special Education staff.

Mr. McCormack made a motion, seconded by Mr. Estrada, to approve Financial Memorandum #8, copy attached.

Ayes:  Crescenzo, Elliott, Estrada, Knapp, McCormack, Perrino, Botti, Markovits – 8.  Motion was unanimously approved.

Mr. McCormack made a motion, seconded by Mrs. Botti, to approve the appointment of Impartial Hearing Officer Michael Lazan for Case #7139.

Ayes:  Crescenzo, Elliott, Estrada, Knapp, McCormack, Perrino, Botti, Markovits – 8.  Motion was unanimously approved.

Mrs. Botti made a motion, seconded by Mr. McCormack, to adopt the attached policy on School Volunteers.

Ayes:  Crescenzo, Elliott, Estrada, Knapp, McCormack, Perrino, Botti, Markovits – 8.  Motion was unanimously approved.      

Opportunity to Address the Board;

Nancy Bookbinder suggested that the District just say no to the taking of Regents examinations.  She spoke about the confusion perpetrated by the State Education Department, and said that children should not have to go through the stress of taking all the tests they now take.

Roundtable:

Mrs. Botti referred to an article in The Times Herald Record entitled “No Teacher Left Behind” which recommended that the federal administration pay teachers what they are really worth.

Mrs. Botti thanked Mrs. McLeod for the District Leadership goals and action plan she recently sent to the Board.  Mrs. Botti requested that the Board receive copies of principals’ goals and objectives.

Mr. Estrada thanked Gordon Dean, Janet Davis, Steve Lucash and Millie Crigar for their hospitality at this evening’s building tour of Twin Towers.  Mr. Estrada also commended the MHS football team for its perseverance despite some adversity this year. 

Mr. Estrada applauded Mrs. Bookbinder’s comments regarding the State Education Department.

Mr. Perrino addressed the following:  the status of the DLT and SIT teams in each building; the status of the Odyssey of the Mind; requested a report on the New Visions Program at the High School.

Mrs. Knapp noted that most of our schools are having food drives for needy families and urged that people call our schools to find out how to help.

Mrs. Elliott addressed the need for program evaluations.  She also spoke about the District’s extensive attempts to communicate with parents.

Mr. Crescenzo asked about the status of the community coordinator position, and said that this would be a good person to provide families with information concerning the Supplemental Education Services.  Mrs. Markovits said that administration needs additional input from the Board regarding the job description for the community coordinator position.

At 10:05 p.m., Mr. Crescenzo made a motion, seconded by Mr. McCormack, to have an executive session for the discussion of litigation and personnel matters dealing with tenure, worker’s compensation, and evaluation of specific personnel.

Motion was unanimously approved.

Public session resumed at 12:30 a.m.  There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at this time.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Alicia E. Olsen

School District Clerk