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ELDRED, NY — Stating that his focus going forward was to improve academic outcomes, Superintendent Dr. John Morgano introduced a former colleague to those gathered for the Eldred School Board meeting, consultant Sue Wheeler. She walked the board through a status report of past academic performance and a three-year timeline for addressing academic needs on a department-by-department basis.
With a focus on literacy—which encompasses not just reading, but also writing, listening and speaking—the first area to be addressed is English Language Arts (ELA). This was the subject of a conference-day dialogue in April.
Per the schedule, mathematics, science, social studies and subjects outside of those core areas will also be showcased in outlying years.
The presentation was long on academic jargon and included only a bare-bones outline of the plan to tackle the task at hand.
Regents test scores in the various subjects were presented for the years 2015 through 2018 as well as the results of 2018 assessment test results for grades three through eight for ELA and mathematics.
Data for 2019 is still being assembled.
The regents scores reported the number of students taking the exam each year, the percentage of students who passed the exam with a score of 65% or higher and also those who showed mastery in the subject, as measured by a score of 85% or higher. The results fluctuated widely when compared by subject and also from year to year.
The grades three through eight assessment results were compared with overall NYS results as well as other “average-needs schools,” which Eldred is considered to be. In each case, Eldred performed below these comparisons with the exception of eigth grade ELA and third grade math.
It was pointed out that in 2018, only 60% of Eldred students participated in the state-wide assessment tests and that in 2019, the level of participation had jumped to 95%. Morgano has repeatedly stated throughout his tenure that the district cannot act without data and praised the parents and students for upping the level of participation in the current year.
In other business, Morgano reported that $75,000 in aid had been secured through the office of Rep. Aileen Gunther and that these funds, along with other grant money earmarked for the purpose, will pay for an armed school resource officer at each of the buildings for the next school year. Morgano noted that Gunther has been a long-time friend to, and source of funding for, the district.
District treasurer Caleb Russell reported that in the next school year, all elementary students will be provided with free breakfast and lunch for which the district will be reimbursed through the federal government. Because of the level of need in the district, federal guidelines allow for the program to be extended to all students, regardless of need. This program is good for five years before it comes up again for review. Russell said that the high school quota is close to also requiring this benefit but is not quite there yet.
Morgano praised the graduating class of 2019 and said that he wished he’d had even more time to get to know them. He commented on their resourcefulness in pulling off the senior prank, in which more than 50 “for sale” signs were placed in the front yard of the high school with the telephone number of the principal for those seeking information. Morgano noted that the prank caused one person to comment tongue-in-cheek that such an action was supposed to go out for bid.