Voorheesville receives good grades from state

VOORHEESVILLE — The district received its report card from the state at the monthly board of education meeting on Jan. 8.

Karen Conroy, the director of curriculum, presented the board with the recently-released results of the Regents exam.

She began by noting that parts of the exam were written to Common Core standards, the educational initiative that says what students in grades K through 12 should know in English and math at the end of each grade, while others — social studies and science — used a standard from 1996.

She first highlighted the non-Common Core exams.

In social studies, students had over 90-percent proficiency in global history, which is anything 65 percent or above; and in United States history students had 97-percent proficiency.

In science, students were close to 90-percent proficiency in Earth science; nearly 100-percent proficient in biology; 90-percent proficient in chemistry; and 94-percent proficient in physics, which it up from 76 percent the previous year.

Conroy noted that many students were not only proficient but were considered masters, which meant scoring 85 percent or higher on the exams.

In social studies, 65 percent of students were considered masters; in Earth science, 62 percent; and in both chemistry and physics about half of students scored 85 percent or higher.

Conroy then moved to Common Core exams.

She said that exam results are compiled into five levels as opposed to four in the non-Common Core exams. The state, she said, considers levels four and five to be aspirational levels; where you want students to be, so that they are college- and career-ready.

In algebra, there was over 90-percent proficiency.

“Looking at algebra over the past few years, the new Common Core exam, we have not only grown in proficiency but the level fours and fives has also grown, and we moved with the level fives, in particular, from 11 percent in 2014 and 37 percent in 2015,” Conroy said.

Since proficiency in geometry has been close to, or over, 90 percent for three years, Conroy said, there hasn’t been much growth in geometry; proficiency moved from 89 to 94 percent. Voorheesville saw the most growth at level five, she said, going from 24 to 43 percent in three years.

“Algebra II, we are actually doing quite well, which along with physics, I consider to be the two most difficult tests that we have from the Regents,” Conroy said. Proficiency was over 90 percent, and Conroy noted, the change in the number of students in level five from one year to the next had been strong, which was 12 percent and went to 29 percent.

Other business

In other business, the board:

— Heard from elementary principal Jeffrey Vivenzio, who was very pleased to report that the district had received an anonymous donation of $750 for the backpack program, where every weekend some students are given a backpack full of food to bring home, so that their families have enough to eat over the weekend. Vivenzio said the donation will enable the district to provide more support to students.

He said that, currently, the program is at full capacity with 15 backpacks, and there is need to go beyond 15 at this time, so this donation will help the district to do that.

The day before Christmas break, as school was closed by a snowstorm, Vivenzio along with Michael Goyer, the director of facilities and transportation, spent the day dropping off backpacks to students. Vivenzio’s report also said that students at the elementary level received an additional backpack for the holidays that was filled with supplies;

— Heard an apology from Doreen Saia, the board’s president, for misspeaking at December’s meeting, when she said that the law prohibited her from discussing personnel decisions. This was in regard to the resignation of the girls’ varsity basketball coach, Robert Baron.

At the December meeting, Saia cited New York’s Open Meetings Law as her legal reason for not discussing Baron’s resignation. Kristin O’Neill, assistant director of the New York State Committee on Open Government, told The Enterprise that there is no law that makes personnel records confidential. O’Neill pointed out that there is no obligation for the board to answer questions, and that no one is entitled to that information, but that’s a decision made by the board — it is not law;

— Heard an update about the status of the new elementary-school playground from Francis Rielly, assistant superintendent for finance and operations. Rielly said that the playground is now waiting for approval from the facilities department of the State Education Department, which told districts that there will be a three-to-four month waiting period for approval.

Rielly said that State Education facilities department has a staff of about four project managers and about six to eight architects to approve plans but has to deal with projects from 700 school districts in the state.

It was also decided at the meeting that a request for proposals for the demolition of the existing playground will be sent out on Friday, Jan. 12. The RFP calls for the demolition to take place at the end of March. The district is paying for the demolition of the playground, while the new playground is being paid for from fundraising done by Friends of the Voorheesville Playground, which has raised close to $230,00; and

— Adopted a corrective action plan for the district’s undesignated fund balance. An external audit by the Bonadio Group found that the district’s unrestricted, undesignated fund balance was greater than the limit set by the state, which is 4 percent of the budget. The plan calls for the creation of three new funds: For the Employee Retirement System, which includes all non-instructional staff such as custodians, food-service workers, and bus drivers; a tax certiori, or appeal, reserve, which stems from the problems the town of Guilderland is having with its assessments and drop in the state-set equalization rate, leading to an increase in school taxes for Guilderland residents in the Voorheesville School District; and another repair-reserve fund that allows the district to have money set aside to fix the unexpected.

Corrected on Jan. 17, 2018: Percentages for performances in geometry and Algebra II exams were corrected.



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