Message from the Superintendent
As you read this correspondence, I hope that you had a wonderful holiday season and that you and your families have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. The Sewanhaka Central High School District is continuing to work diligently toward the development of the annual operating budget for the 2016-2017 school year. The budget challenge in New York State continues to make our work this year all the more complicated. In addition, the fifth year of the new legislation regarding the tax cap on the school tax levy continues to present additional challenges, as the District strives to maintain its excellent programmatic offerings for all students in grades 7-12. We remain steadfast in our determination to minimize the effects of our loss of state aid and the new tax cap on the instructional programs of our District.
At this time, it is appropriate for me to provide you with an update on the bond referendum work.
Phase I – ATS Field Facility
The work at the ATS site was initiated in late September 2014 and has now been completed. The entire site has been renovated to include two baseball fields (one that has outfield fences, a warning track, dugouts and a scoreboard) and three multipurpose fields. The site was excavated and leveled and a new irrigation system was installed. Finally, new sod was installed on the entire site. The facility has new fencing, sidewalks and bleachers. It will serve as an exceptional venue for Floral Park Memorial High School, District junior high school athletics and teams throughout the District. This is a facility that the entire District will be proud of well into the future. The reason the District was able to complete this phase in such an expedited manner is that it did not require New York State Education Department approvals.
Phase II – Roof Replacements, Asbestos Abatement and Field Renovations at All Five High Schools
Phase II of the bond referendum, which included roof replacements, asbestos removal and athletic field upgrades at each high school, has also been completed. As a result of these extensive renovations, these facilities are now in the condition that our students deserve.
Phase III – HVAC Replacement, Auditorium Renovations, Additions, Parking Lot Site Work, etc.
Phase III of the referendum, which includes additions at Elmont Memorial, Floral Park Memorial and Sewanhaka high schools, as well as renovations at all five high schools, is currently being reviewed by NYSED. The District went out to bid for these projects in January, with the work commencing in the spring of 2016. I encourage you to visit the District website to monitor the progress of each of these projects.
The District administration and community are grateful for the support that was given for this much-needed building and renovation proposal. We are committed to ensuring that the projects outlined in the plan are completed in a timely and exceptional manner.
As we enter into the winter months, there are some significant activities and events that have been scheduled in the near future. At the end of the month, a January Regents testing schedule will be conducted at all five high schools. Please access your high school website in order to receive specific information regarding this testing schedule.
Another exciting annual event, which has usually taken place in February, is the District’s annual Music and Art Festival. This year, it is scheduled for April 7, beginning at 7 p.m., at Elmont Memorial High School. The District’s annual Sports Night will be held at H. Frank Carey High School on Feb. 24 at 7 p.m.
Our high school seniors are continuing with the application process for acceptance into the colleges and universities of their choice. The high school guidance departments have reported that our students are applying and have already been accepted into top-tier colleges and universities. Since our students are enrolled in a rigorous academic program and most are involved in a variety of co-curricular programs, we are confident that they are effectively prepared for their postsecondary careers.
Finally, I encourage you to attend one of the schools’ outstanding musicals that are scheduled throughout the late winter and early spring months. Please consult the District and school calendars on the website for specific announcements regarding the times and locations of each of the musicals.
Office of Curriculum and Instruction
Dr. Champ has been meeting with seventh-grade team teachers and seventh-grade parents to solicit feedback on the changes being implemented in the seventh grade this year. These changes include teaming (at HFC and NHP), Integrated Advanced curricula in ELA, social studies and science, double block periods of instruction in ELA and math, and the introduction of Schoolwide Enrichment (SEM) projects and after-school opportunities. Feedback in ELA and math has been overwhelmingly positive, as both teachers and parents feel the double block has provided the needed time to implement a challenging curriculum to a heterogeneous range of students. Teachers of seventh-grade social studies and science do not have the same amount of instructional time available to meet these needs, and are needing to look to other resources such as Operation Success to assist in meeting student support needs. A review of academic indicators shows that students in these classes are successful at similar or improved rates as compared to prior years. Behavior and preparation have also been noted as improved as a result of these new structures. We’re thrilled that we are seeing an increased numbers of students qualifying for advanced courses in eighth-grade math and science as a result of these efforts!
Eighth-Grade Program Change Planning
Preparations are underway for similar changes to be implemented in the eighth grade in the fall of 2016. Integrated Advanced curricula will be phased into the eighth grade in ELA and social studies. Teacher teams will be revising curricula throughout the spring in preparation for this shift. Next year’s eighth-grade students will be the first group to take Living Environment Advanced as their first course in the science sequence. Teachers will be tweaking curriculum and looking at digital resources to enrich this curriculum in preparation for implementation in the fall, as well. Building principals, scheduling APs and science chairpersons have been hard at work looking as certifications, staffing and scheduling demands necessary to navigate the districtwide transition that will shift the science sequence over the next two years. Current eighth-grade students will complete the traditional sequence (Earth Science, then Living Environment, then Chemistry, then Physics), while current seventh-graders will complete the new sequence (Living Environment, then Earth Science, then Chemistry, then Physics). Additionally, the Technology 8 curriculum will be revised this spring for fall implementation.
Dr. Champ and Mr. Nelson have been meeting with seventh- and eighth-grade teams from each building, as well as with departments that teach middle school exploratory courses (e.g., FACS, technology, art, music), to solicit input regarding what tools teachers would like students to have as we plan for the proposal of a one-to-one student device implementation to the Board of Education. The initial proposal will occur at the January BOE meeting. A follow-up presentation, with specifics about student devices, will occur at the February BOE meeting. Building and district leaders have been meeting with vendors of the three primary platforms (Microsoft, Google and Apple) for executive briefings on each technology environment. A Technology Expo will be held at H. Frank Carey High School on Feb. 2 from 3:15-7:30 p.m. to provide all stakeholders with the opportunity to attend presentations by each vendor. Feedback from these sessions and meetings will be used to assist the District in selecting the best platform and student device for implementation in the Sewanhaka CHSD.
A new weather station, located on the roof of H. Frank Carey, is now fully updated and operational. Part of the WeatherBug School Program is a scientific-grade station equipped with a state-of-the-art weather sensor suite that tracks 27 different parameters in our district in real time. Follow this link: http://legacy.weather.weatherbug.com/weather-safety/online-weather-center/OnlineWeatherCenter.aspx?aid=6507 to see maps, a live camera shot of current and archived weather, current temperatures and wind information.
The WeatherBug Schools Network is the largest weather network in the world. More than 8,000 schools across the U.S. operate easy-to-use WeatherBug Tracking Stations to integrate live, local weather data and technology into classroom learning. This is achieved through WeatherBug Achieve, a Web-based teaching tool that automatically embeds live weather readings and images from any source on the WeatherBug Schools Network into pre-made interactive lessons. Science departments in each high school are using this technology to integrate local data into lesson activities.
Personnel Office News
On Wednesday, December 23, 2015, I sent an email to all faculty and staff members with important information regarding the change to Brown & Brown D/B/A Fitzharris and Company as the third-party administrator of the district dental plan. I would like to take this opportunity to once again share some very important information with everyone.
At the December 22, 2015 Board of Education meeting, a contract was approved for Brown & Brown D/B/A Fitzharris and Company to be the third-party administrator of the district dental plan, effective January 1, 2016.
Any dental work which was done within the period of January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015 will be covered under the plan administered by J.J. Stanis & Company. It is important that you submit your claim forms for any of the dental work done during that period, as J.J. Stanis & Company will handle these claims through March 31, 2016. All dental work done after January 1, 2016 will be covered under the new plan with Brown & Brown.
Please be aware that Brown & Brown has increased the number of providers through Ameritas Life Insurance Corp. of New York. You can access the in-network providers through the following websites:
New dental plan forms can be found on the District’s website under “Personnel Forms.” Should you have any questions, please contact Lisa Coscette in the Brown & Brown office at 516-944-2894.