WEST VALLEY — The West Valley Board of Education held its regularly scheduled meeting on April 22, at which recent and future renovations to the school, an update on why students declined to take the New York State Assessment and a summary of the 2014-15 budget were discussed.
Superintendent Eric Lawton kicked off the meeting talking about the many fixes that have been done to the school recently and others that will need to be done, in the coming months. Big L Windows and Doors came to check on the window balances they put in, to make sure they are all still effective. Also, they looked at many other windows and determined that they will also need new balances, which will be done during the summer. District Business Official Ann O’Brien also said that there is room in the repair budget this year, for those windows to be fixed.
All the fire extinguishers were also checked and brought up to date. There was also some electrical work done, around the school, to fix flickering lights and a new outlet was added under the stairwell, so a milk vending machine can be moved there.
Fixing the roof was also brought up by Lawton. Workers were at the school inspecting the roof and taking all necessary measurements, so they can get everything done by May 21, the day after the budget vote, and submit everything for an emergency portion of the capital project. If everything goes as planned, the roof project should begin this summer.
Principal Dan Amodeo was next to speak and he first talked about the computer-based testing conducted at the school through the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. These tests will be used as a tool to develop a new computer-based testing system linked with the Common Core state standards. While many students said they liked the computers better, review were mixed, and many students said they still prefer the paper tests.
“Going through the process and being a step ahead of other school districts will be valuable, down the road, if in fact we move to computer based testing,” said Amodeo.
Amodeo also told the board that he talked to parents about why they let their children refuse to take the New York State Assessment. The biggest concern was the overall value of the assessment and the anxiety and struggle their children faced with some of the work they were not prepared for, because of how the standards were rolled out.
On May 20, the school will be bringing in Dr. Amanda Nickerson, director of University of Buffalo’s Alberti Center for Prevention of Bullying Abuse and School Violence, for a presentation on bullying for the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students. Amodeo said this could not have come at a better time because he has seen an increase in this kind of behavior, specifically amongst the middle schoolers. Parents and students are both invited to attend and there will be an ice cream social beforehand, sponsored by Cindy Lou’s Frozen Yogurt.
O’Brien gave a summary of the 2014-15 budget that will come up for vote on May 20. This upcoming school year, the budget will be decreasing 0.8 percent, to $8,719,882. O’Brien said she wanted to make everyone aware that, if something drastic were to come up, everything could still change.
“Say the capital project didn’t pass and we had to spend the money 100 percent out of the general fund; I would have to have that leeway in the budget to be able to do that,” said O’Brien.
The business official also touched upon the tax levy for the 2014-15 budget. Since the tax levy will be staying the same as the previous year’s, there will be no change in the amount taxpayers will have to pay. The only exception is if a person were under the enhanced New York State School Tax Relief Program, in which the tax would actually go down.
In new business, Lawton discussed a change made to the extracurricular activities section of the policy manual. In order for students to attend school-sponsored functions, they must attend at least half of the school day, either from the start of the day until fourth period or from fourth period until the end of the day. Previously, there were specific times posted, but those times have changed over the years and it was causing confusion.
The West Valley School Board will hold it next meeting on May 12, at 7 p.m. in the school library.