Sewanhaka Beacon

December 2015

Message from the Superintendent

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and are enjoying the holiday season with friends and family. Following the successful passage of the bond referendum in May, the District has been making significant progress regarding the proposed projects. Phase I of the building plan has been completed. The field complex at the Alva T. Stanforth site behind the Elmont Memorial Library is fully completed and is being enjoyed by the Floral Park High School Athletic Department and various community groups. Phase II of the project, which included the roof replacements, asbestos removal and athletic field upgrades at each high school, has also been completed. It is anticipated that these facilities will be fully operational during the spring of 2016. I encourage you to visit the District website to monitor the progress of each of these projects. Phase III of the referendum, which includes the additions at Elmont Memorial High School, Floral Park Memorial High School and Sewanhaka High School and the renovations at all five high schools, is currently being reviewed by the State Department of Education. The District anticipates going out for bid on these projects in early January, with the work commencing in the spring of 2016.

As a result of your hard work and commitment, the Sewanhaka Central High School District continues to serve exceptional students who deserve these upgraded, repaired and renovated facilities, which encompass academic learning environments as well as athletic fields, gymnasiums and auditoriums. The District administration and community are grateful to each of you for supporting 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. Furthermore, we are proud of our students’ accomplishments in academics, athletics and the arts, and remain dedicated to ensuring that our students are provided with a diversified educational experience.

Currently, the Central Office and building-level administrators are working diligently toward the development of the operating budget for the 2016-17 school year. The school tax levy cap legislation, now in its fifth year, continues to present added challenges as the District strives to maintain its excellent programmatic offerings for all students in grades seven through 12. It is anticipated that the cap on the 2016-17 budget will be below 1 percent. As in the past, we will remain steadfast in our determination to minimize the effects of our loss of state aid and the tax cap on the instructional programs of our District.

At this time during the school year, our high school seniors are involved in the application process for acceptance into the colleges and universities of their choice. The high school Guidance Departments report that, as in the past, our students are applying to top-tier colleges and universities. The District is confident that our students will continue to be accepted into the colleges and universities of their choice. 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 well-prepared for their postsecondary careers.

On another note, I would like to publicly thank County Legislators Schaefer, Solages, Nicollelo and Muscarella for assisting the District in securing the funds for the electronic signs located in front of each of the five high schools, at no cost to the District or its residents. These signs help the schools communicate information regarding important school events and student achievements. The District is grateful that it could install these signs through the support of Nassau County.

Finally, as in the past, I encourage you to attend one of the schools’ holiday concerts, which are scheduled throughout the month of December. As you are aware, our students perform in concert bands, orchestras and choruses, and I know that you will join me in congratulating them on the outstanding work they do as they perform in these ensembles. The concerts for each school and grade level are highlighted in each school’s calendar.

In closing, I would like to reiterate that it is my privilege to serve as Superintendent of Schools in such a wonderful District. I would also like to take this opportunity to wish each and every one a happy holiday season and a healthy and prosperous New Year!

Technology & Curriculum Update

Technology

At the last Technology Committee meeting, the librarians presented recommendations for District email accounts for students next school year, summarizing practices from several local high schools. The growing need has been observed as more research resources have gone digital and accounts are managed through email addresses. The committee also discussed the possibility of simplifying the school's domain name (currently Sewanhaka.k12.ny.us).

The Technology Department spent the last month firming up details for equipment to be installed as part of Phase III of the building renovations. This spring, projects will go to bid, with installations scheduled for late spring. One of the most observable changes will be a new Wi-Fi network. The department is also looking to expand Internet access in the District. Planned for late January, bandwidth will grow from 500MB to 1.5GB, tripling the current capacity.


New Hyde Park will be field testing computer-based testing this spring with the seventh and eighth grades in both math and English NYS assessments, which are scheduled for late May. More information on this topic will be shared in February, when the state releases practice exams.


Curriculum

The District is planning a full transition to electronic grading by September 2016. To support this transition, we have established an ad hoc committee on electronic grading, comprised of administrators, supervisors and teachers from all buildings, who will work collaboratively to define expectations and identify logistical and training issues needing resolution to make this implementation successful. If you have questions, concerns, ideas or input on this topic, please share them with committee members within your building or unit. All teachers will be provided with training between now and the end of the school year to assure understanding and needed skills are in place for the fall.


The District’s Smart Bond Committee has been meeting throughout the fall to determine the best strategy for positioning our students to succeed in a digital environment beyond high school. The committee, comprised of teachers, administrators, students and parents, has been discussing this issue in order to prepare a proposal to present to the Board of Education in January regarding the best way to spend the $3.2 million that our District will be receiving as part of the Smart Schools Bond Act approved by New York State voters last November. After examining a variety of options such as mobile carts, Bring Your Own Devices, one-to-one student device initiatives and hybrid models, the committee is moving ahead with deeper examination of one-to-one device implementation as the potential solution. In addition to preparing students for digital success, this solution would assure equity of access and resources for all students, would best bridge the home-school resource gap, would provide a consistent platform for instructional design, and would meet specifications for future computer-based testing. Committee members are visiting one-to-one schools in the metro area to analyze the implementation of the various platforms, which include Apple (iPad), Google (Chromebook) and PC (Thinkpad/Surface). The committee will share their findings with the Technology Committee and BOE to assist in making appropriate recommendations. Any input or feedback on this process, and specifically tools needed to support effective, digitally integrated instruction, should be directed to principals and members of the Smart Bond Committee, Technology Committee and Curriculum Office. Look for further updates on this topic by February.


The Curriculum and Technology offices wish each of you a restful, healthy and happy holiday season!

Office of Pupil Personnel & Special Education Services News

The Office of Pupil Personnel Services has been busy visiting the 120 students from the Sewanhaka Central High School District who attend school out-of-district in various day and residential schools that most appropriately meet their individual learning needs. These visits are very important because the District is responsible for the educational placement, program and outcomes that each student is working toward achieving.


Closer to home, our special education chairpersons are preparing to visit the 200 incoming students with an Individualized Education Program who will articulate into our five schools from the 14 elementary school buildings. Each of these students currently has an IEP and receives a specialized program of instruction. It is our intention to visit the students, meet the staff and eventually attend a Committee on Special Education meeting in the spring so that an appropriate transition plan is put into place. These plans are to include the creation of an IEP and a schedule that most appropriately meets the needs of our incoming seventh-graders.


The school counselors have assisted hundreds of seniors with Early Action and Early Decision college applications, as well as facilitated on-site college admissions to St. John’s University, Hofstra University, Molloy College, Adelphi University and NYIT. Students were given the opportunity to meet with college admissions officers, and a determination was made on the spot. Many of our students received acceptance, application fee waivers and scholarships to their top local college choices. All of our Guidance Offices hosted a Financial Aid Night for parents of 12th-grade students to assist in the completion of the FAFSA that is required before the awarding of financial aid can be made.


School social workers, psychologists and speech teachers have been busy providing related services to students, evaluating initial referrals, and making sure that all of our students who are scheduled for a re-evaluation have updated social histories and evaluations so that well-informed CSE decisions can be made.


Our NYSAA students recently enjoyed a visit to New York City to see the musical production of “Elf” at Madison Square Garden. It was a wonderful trip, and the smiles, laughter and holiday cheer experienced by our students resonates as we prepare to celebrate the magic of the holiday season.


We wish you all a very happy and healthy 2016. Thanking you for your continued commitment and enthusiasm; you matter every day.

Personnel Office News

Coursework for Salary Advancement: Staff who wish to use coursework for salary advancement must seek course approval prior to taking the class. Please submit course requests on My Learning Plan at least two weeks in advance of the course start date, as approval must be given by several administrators. The final approval is given by the Assistant Superintendent for Personnel, and I am often approving courses that have already begun. This means that the courses are submitted on the day the course begins or only a few days in advance of the course. As My Learning Plan is checked daily, there is no delay in the course approval process. Therefore, courses that are not submitted in a timely fashion will not be approved.

Deadlines for Submission of Transcripts: Staff members seeking salary advancement as of the first day of the school year must submit to the Personnel Office the necessary official transcripts no later than October 1st of each school year. Staff members seeking salary advancement as of the first day of the second semester must submit to the Personnel Office the necessary official transcripts no later than February 15th of each year. Salary advancement will be given two times a year.

Professional Development: Who needs to log hours?

  • 175 Professional Development Hours in Five Years for Teaching Staff
  • 75 Professional Development Hours in Five Years for Teaching Assistant Staff


Types of Certification:

  • Provisional Certifications – The last provisional certifications for classroom teachers are dated 2/1/04, but are discontinued as of 2/2/04. The provisional certificates are valid for five years and lead to permanent certification. No logging of professional development hours is required.
  • Permanent Certifications – The requirements for permanent certification for classroom teachers are a master’s degree and two years of full-time classroom teaching. No logging of professional development hours is required.
  • Initial Certifications – This is the entry-level certification for classroom teachers as of 2/2/04. The initial certifications are valid for five years from the effective date of the certificate and lead to professional certification. No logging of professional development hours is required.
  • Professional Certifications – This is the advanced-level certificate for classroom teachers. The professional certificates for classroom teachers require a master’s degree and possibly an additional 12 graduate credits in the content area. This certificate will remain valid with the completion of required professional development hours on a five-year professional development cycle beginning the July 1st after the effective date of the professional certification. Logging of professional development hours is required. For example, those staff members who hold a professional certificate effective September 2015 must log PD hours starting July 2016. Teachers who receive their professional certification effective February 2016 must also log PD hours starting July 1, 2016. The total 175/75 hours of professional development will be due to the State Education Department on September 2021, five years from when the logging of hours starts. Each summer, the Personnel Office will upload PD hours that you have entered onto My Learning Plan. The State Education Department requires this information from you. If you cannot provide SED with this information, your certification will be invalid and your employment will terminate.


On behalf of the Personnel Office, I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a joyous holiday season and a very happy and healthy New Year.

Adult Education News

Registration for the spring semester will take place in February. More information, including a catalog of offerings will be forthcoming. We look forward to another successful semester in the spring.

Business Office News

At the November 24th Board of Education meeting, the bid for food service management was awarded to Whitsons, an Islandia-based food service company. Whitsons will oversee the Food Service Program beginning January 4, and will implement new ideas and offer some new menu items. All food service employees will remain District employees and will work in accordance with their current employment contracts.


Whitsons will be training the District’s food service employees to prepare the new menu items, and will also be making some modifications to the serving lines. The new look to the serving lines and new menu options should create some excitement for students and staff and help increase sales for both breakfast and lunch.


While Sewanhaka is a large district, Whitsons is no stranger to working in large school districts. They currently operate in many large school districts, including Middle Country, City of Albany, City of New Rochelle, Valley Stream CHSD, Commack, Connetquot, Lindenhurst, Garden City and Manhasset.


As Sewanhaka is a large district, it will take some time to bring all of the changes to the serving lines and menu offerings. In January, there should be some noticeable changes at each building. We hope you see positive changes and encourage everyone to show their support by eating more lunch!

Board of Education Meeting

Tuesday, Dec. 22nd, 8pm

Sewanhaka High School - 3rd Floor Board Room