Dr. Manno's Bedford Central Brief, Edition #2, Summer 2016
Dr. Manno shares with the Board and Community his BIG Three Commitments
The following are my BIG Three beliefs and commitments for working in partnership with the Board of Education and community:
1. It is my commitment to honor the role of the Board of Education and its officers in the execution of my duties, and to focus on service to students, families and the community. The Board of Education, with input from its hired professional educators, sets the policies/regulations, direction, goals, and financial constraints for the district. The Superintendent and administration implement policy and execute plans to achieve goals for the district to help students realize their potential.
2. It is my commitment to ensure to the best of my ability that there are no surprises to the Board or community. This is accomplished through constant efforts to engage in effective communication and collaboration.
3. It is my commitment that Board of Education members and parents/community members feel included, relevant, and comfortable discussing issues and concerns in a constructive and productive manner.
Update on Elementary Class Sizes from Dr. Manno
The BCSD Board of Education policy establishes guidelines for elementary class sizes:
- 23 students in kindergarten – grade 2
- 25 students in grades 3-5
During the budget development process, the administration allocates elementary sections in each school based on the best enrollment estimates in accordance with the guidelines established in board policy. In the past, at times, when summer enrollment numbers have exceeded projections, the District had flexibility within the budget to add elementary classroom sections. This year we do not have the capacity to exceed the number of budgeted elementary sections.
While the vast majority of elementary classes across the district fall within the Board policy guidelines, there are four instances in which we must exceed the guidelines based on current enrollment numbers. These decisions were governed by a few guiding principles:
- Adhere to board policy guidelines in kindergarten and grade 1, where the impact on students’ literacy development is most profound;
- Minimize the number of instances we exceed policy guidelines affecting the fewest number of students possible in grades 2 and higher;
- Remain within the elementary class size requirements of our agreement with the Bedford Teachers’ Association.
After careful consideration, we have determined four grades across the district where class sections will exceed board policy guidelines:
- Bedford Hills Elementary School second grade currently has two sections of 24 and 25 students.
- Bedford Village Elementary second grade currently has two sections of 23 and 24 students.
- Mount Kisco Elementary School fourth grade currently has four sections of 25, 25, 26, and 26 students.
- Bedford Village Elementary School fifth grade currently has two sections of 25 and 26 students.
Should there be a significant increase in one building’s enrollment during the coming weeks, we are prepared to allocate additional staffing. I will work with administrators and principals to ensure that classrooms with larger class sizes have the support necessary to provide optimal instruction for all students.
While we recognize that larger class sizes are not optimal, these decisions are the direct result of budgetary constraints which do not allow the flexibility to create additional sections. Board Policy allows such circumstances of exceeding policy class size guidelines by stating, "The Board of Education retains the right to exceed class size guidelines up to a maximum of those class sizes provided for in the District’s contract with its teachers. Such a decision may be warranted by such factors as physical space, staffing issues and/or fiscal circumstances."
Based on what I have seen of our elementary classroom teachers, I have great confidence that they possess the knowledge and instructional expertise to ensure every student has a positive and productive learning experience.
Thank you in advance for your understanding, and please do not hesitate to contact me directly with comments or questions.
Update on Summer Facilities Projects
The District has undertaken several ambitious construction projects this summer, the third year of the $31.8 million dollar bond approved by the residents in 2013. Our challenge is to accomplish all of this before welcoming the children back on September 1st.
At the Fox Lane Middle School, renovations continue on the elevators, bathrooms, and roofs on the Central Building and on one-half of the gymnasium.
The high school is getting a new roof on 75% of the facility.
Also on the Fox Lane campus, the water system is receiving a major upgrade. The existing water tank will be refurbished, new valves will be installed and new pipes will be run to the buildings on campus. Talk about challenging! Watch out for the backhoes if you visit us.
Finally, West Patent Elementary School is seeing the most extensive work. Unfortunately, the work has been impacted by the discovery of non-friable asbestos containing material. This means the material was not airborne nor did it pose any danger; however, it needed to be removed. The District is working closely with its asbestos consultant to ensure that the building will be asbestos free. New science rooms, windows, lighting, heating upgrades, courtyard pavers, asphalt repairs and the installation of solar panels are all on the schedule. When complete, you will be amazed at the transformation.
It is very important to note that the asbestos abatement and other issues have caused delays to the West Patent project. We are closely monitoring the project timeline and status. Over the next week or so, we will decide if a group of stakeholders must be convened to evaluate alternatives should West Patent not be able to open for students on September 1st. Dr. Manno and Ms. Berezowsky will keep the community informed of progress and status.
On another note, if you wish to be added to the District’s 48 hour notification list for certain pesticide or other lawn applications, please call the Business Office at 914.241.6020.
Prevent the “Summer Slide” – Think about Learning This Summer
Summer is upon us. Our students will spend long days playing in the sun, relaxing, swimming, playing sports, gathering with friends, or possibly working. While it is important for students and parents to use the summer months as an opportunity to decompress from the hectic pace of the school year, it is also important for students not to lose the academic progress they have accrued during the past year.
During summer vacation, children forget a significant amount of the previous year’s learning (Hamilton et al., 2006; Kerry et al., 1998). This phenomenon is called “summer learning loss” or the “summer slide.” Studies have shown that the loss can equal as little as one month of learning, or as much as three months. Summer learning loss has been shown most detrimental for math computation and spelling skills. Factual and procedural knowledge are more prone to decay than conceptual understanding. Summer learning loss worsens as students get older. The effect is felt most for the least able and at-risk students.
Due to the “summer slide,” schools have to spend weeks bringing pupils back up to speed at the beginning of the school year, thus taking away from available teaching time. Additionally, studies have indicated that summer learning loss may increase disparities between on- or above-level students, and lower-level students. The cumulative effects of “summer learning loss” are significant.
Parents and students can take some simple measures to help halt the “summer slide” for students. The following are five tips to promote a learning-filled summer (Family Education Network, 2002).
1. Encourage reading. Keep lots of books around and visit the library regularly. Encourage your child to pick out a variety of books, both fiction and non-fiction. Schedule time to read together. Show your child that you enjoy reading for pleasure. Most libraries schedule special summer events for kids. Completing the summer reading project is not enough; children should read daily throughout the summer.
2. Think about what your kids may be learning next year when you plan family activities. Think about day trips to visit historical, cultural, scientific, and other educational destinations, such as museums, parks, or historical sites.
3. Keep math in mind. Since kids lose more math skills than anything else over the summer, try to find math-related activities. Consider obtaining resources to keep your child’s math skills sharp over the summer. Play games that involve math skills.
4. Consider summer tutoring if your child struggled in a particular area. Summer academic work can also enrich and accelerate learning in areas where students show a special interest.
5. Involve your children in educational programs. Contact the school of education at local colleges and universities, or other agencies, to find out what educational programs are being offered in the area over the summer.
Most importantly, try to keep summer learning fun. You don't want to turn children off to learning during the summer break. We wish every family a safe and enjoyable summer. Relax and recharge, but also read and keep your math skills sharp.
Family Education Network (2002). Columbia University Press, Boston, MA., www.fen.com.
Hamilton, J., Johnston, S., Marshall, J., Shields, C. (May, 2006). Schools that like a challenge: Making the most of time. Educational Leadership.
Kerry, T. & Davies, B. (1998). Summer learning loss: The evidence and a possible solution. Support for Learning, Volume 13, Number 3.
Update on Dr. Manno's Transition
Dr. Manno started individual one-on-one "get to know you" meetings with each Board of Education member. He met with Senator George Latimer, Senator Terrence Murphy, and Assemblyman David Buchwald to discuss issues and challenges facing the district. Dr. Manno started his meetings with various parent groups including Parent Teacher Associations Presidents and our special education parent group, SEPTO. Dr. Manno also met with the regional interfaith council, the faith-based leaders throughout the area.
Finally, and most importantly, Dr. Manno has sought opportunities to visit with students over the summer. He visited, along with several of our Board of Education Members, the summer Special Education extended school year program at BVES. Dr. Manno also visited the Learning Links program at MKES and the Title III Summer Academy for Grades 7-11 Limited English Proficient Students. Dr. Manno is in the process of visiting several of the summer camps running throughout the district's communities in order to meet the students and other stakeholders. Dr. Manno is seeking out any program in which our students are participating in activities this summer, and will try to visit.