CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. -- The Cambridge Central School Board of Education went over administrative reports, student test results, and assessments and made some last-minute staff changes in preparation for the new school year at its regular meeting Tuesday.
The official first day of school is a full, regular day of classes on Thursday, Sept. 4. A quorum of the five-member board was met with its minimum of three present at the last meeting before school starts. Absent were Don Boyd and Dede Nash.
Administrative reports from CCS Elementary and Junior/Senior High Schools focused the board's attention on academic improvement for the upcoming school year. The board is working closely with the administration in workshops to use results as a tool for improvement.
In reviewing student assessments, junior/senior high school principal Tammy Silvernell said Advanced Placement exam averages revealed that CCS students in college credit classes scored higher than the state and national averages.
To better prepare students in certain subjects, academic workshops are reviewing results of both New York State Regents exams and Common Core tests. Common Core English standards are now being integrated into 11th grade, and regents exams are to phase out completely as the school becomes accustomed to Common Core.
"My take away from putting the data together: We still have significant concerns in the area of math," Silvernell said.
The elementary school administrative report revealed that primary education will be phasing out regional assessment as well. Faculty are now encouraged to write their own student assessments.
Elementary principal Colleen Lester hopes to spark parent engagement with their children in subjects like math, which she said can be difficult when it is taught differently than it used to be. There will be three math nights on October 8, 15 and 22, which will give parents opportunities to learn some "skill-building activities that will hopefully give parents more of an understanding of Common Core math and ideas as how to bring math into their own home," Lester said.
Lester said that the "shroud of secrets" surrounding Common Core and its results is starting to be lifted, and that testing scores are improving among students who have undergone consecutive years of Common Core concepts.
"The cohort numbers are really encouraging," Lester said. "The faculty, who has to administer these tests, know how difficult they are. The fact that they are releasing questions from these tests to parents, allows them to see what our students are grappling with."
Prior to the first day of school, teachers will have an opportunity to see Common Core testing results and work with administrators on plans for academic improvement during the Superintendent's Conference Days on Sept. 2 and 3. That data will also be available publicly on the school's website.
The Superintendent's Report revealed that preexisting conditions in water pipes in the small gym have caused some water damage. The gym will be closed for the school year, or until further notice. A few classes will be rearranged, but few will be affected.
CCS Superintendent Vincent Canini also updated the board that the Monolith solar project for the roof of the school and bus garage, originally scheduled for early spring, has been delayed again for Sept. 15 or 22. Canini does not expect the installation to disrupt classes.
A final item in Canini's report revealed that increased enrollment in third grade will require the school to hire a general teaching assistant for the 2014-15 school year, to add to a number of last minute staff changes.
The three present board members unanimously passed the motion to hire a teacher's assistant upon the superintendent's recommendation. In addition to a few staff resignations, the board also approved the leave of absence for Caroline Goss as a Spanish teacher, contingent upon her appointment as acting associate principal and approved the appointment of Kristen Narkiewicz as the long-term substitute for that position.
The board also approved the appointment of William Thomas as a building maintenance mechanic and approved the memorandum of agreement between the CFA and the district to appoint Kathy Fields as chair of the Committee on Preschool Special Education
The board unanimously approved the village tax rate as adjusted by the state according to the equalization rate of the school district's municipalities, and approved the dissolution and transfer of the $100,130 unemployment reserve fund to the unassigned fund balance.
During the board's report, the board members accepted the web report on the new CCS website map, which will eventually be monitored by a webmaster. The board also reiterated that openings are available on the district safety committee and the health and wellness committee.
The 2014-15 school year back to school letter will be sent out in the mail to all district student households by the end of the week. For more information, visit CCS online or find a full schedule of events at http://www.cambridgecsd.org/.
Contact Tom Momberg at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TomMomberg