HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. -- School officials said they're aware of where instruction has fallen short, courtesy of state assessments and a new "data oriented" approach to learning.
At Thursday's regular board meeting, administrators at Hoosick Falls Central School gave a "state of the schools" report covering academics and athletics, technology and transportation.
The school board also approved an increase in a half-time Academic Intervention Services position. "(What we will) be able to do with that is focus that person's time and energy," on areas where the school missed recent targets, said school Superintendent Kenneth Facin.
A newly appointed School Attendance Teacher will meanwhile focus on the "core group" of truant behavior, Facin said, and encompass not only attendance but academic performance and support services.
In the most recent school district rankings by The Albany Business Review, released this past June, HFCS saw its position slip after a string of gains. The 2012 rankings take into consideration testing from 2010-11 and place HFCS at 35 out of 85 districts within the greater 11-county Capital Region area.
The school dropped six positions in the Business Review's methodology, in part because of certain assessment results administrators called "unacceptable," including grades 3 through 8 English Language Arts.
Reading comprehension had in some cases impacted results on science tests, the data showed. Facin said an educational audit was revealing that "areas where we're doing well, we have rigorous texts. ... In areas where we're not doing so well -- we don't have such rigorous texts."
Patrick Dailey, the school's new K-12 director of curriculum, instruction, and assessment, reiterated the current state of flux while districts across New York transition to new common core standards.
"We're in the midst right now of doing a massive shift, across the board," Dailey said, the next two years bringing "massive curriculum development, massive professional development. ... It's the biggest change in a long time."
The school's graduation rate in 2011-12 was ostensibly 88 percent, narrowly missing the board's target of 90 percent, but administrators noted the number didn't account for those graduating with a General Equivalency Diploma or Individualized Education Program (IEP). Facin said the school had "one true dropout" last year.
Eighty-one percent of the 2012 graduating class was destined for higher learning.
Regarding school finances, Business Administrator Pam Hatfield requested a number of unreserved fund balance transfers to set aside money for future retirement incentives and a pending capital improvement project.
A school subcommittee is currently working toward an energy efficiency project, which is slated to be discussed at a board workshop in September. Facin said the school could potentially use solar photovoltaic panels to "pipe energy into the grid, (and) bank that credit."
"Our goal is to produce enough electricity to be net zero," Facin said. He said the forthcoming project would reduce operating costs and the school's carbon footprint, stabilizing energy costs in the long-term. "We're in the infancy of that."
The board set aside $454,000 for that capital fund, which Hatfield explained would pay for testing and architectural services and "put us through to a vote," when residents would approve a bond for the project next year.
In 2011-12, HFCS buses tallied 340,023 miles, while 504 students participated in fall, winter, and spring athletics.
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