LAKE PLACID - At the Lake Placid Central School District meeting Feb. 18, board members discussed new changes made by the Board of Regents to implement the national Common Core, along with textbook selections.
The school board debated whether they should take a more hands-on approach with the textbook selection process or empower the superintendent to take a leadership role. Textbook selections made by the school board last for a period of five years, unless a three-fourths vote during that time overrules a decision.
When the discussion switched to school volunteers, school board member Herb Stoerr told the board it should look into using volunteers as coaches on some of the sports teams.
Lake Placid Middle/High School (News photo — Andy Flynn)
"Somebody's going to raise the question we have too many teams," Stoerr said.
He suggested replacing paid coaches would save money for the school district.
Superintendent Roger Catania said that would be a contractual issue with the teachers' union and would need to be addressed in the contract.
During the superintendent's report, Catania told the school board he was disappointed with the amount of state aid the district will receive and plans to write a letter of disagreement. The current state aid is that goes to the district is $2,535,184, about 15 percent of its $17, 264, 976 budget this school year.
"I'm in the midst of writing a letter to the governor and the Legislature reflecting some of our state aid," Catania said.
Catania presented the school board with the idea that they could also make a statement about state aid at a later meeting.
"Some school boards have been making this statement," he said.
Catania informed the school board about the New York State Board of Regents voting to accept 18 out of 19 proposed changes to its agenda.
The Regents decided to delay the implementation of higher standards for scoring on the Regents exams. The test itself will not change. They also decided to delay the implementation of data sharing with inBloom, a nonprofit company funded by the Gates Foundation, owned by Bill and Melinda Gates who are pushing national education reform.
How the process works is the schools collect information from the students, and then the data is sent to a state data warehouse. The third, most criticized step would be sending that information to inBloom; The idea behind it is that people can view the database to see how schools are performing.
Annual Professional Performance Reviews may also be altered; the Board of Regents is expected to decided on that in April, Catania said. (Editor's note: The previous sentence has been corrected.) The teacher evaluations are based in part on students' grades on standardized tests. They are scored on a scale of 1 to 4, 1 being ineffective and 4 being very effective. Under the Common Core, teachers with a score of 1 are at risk of being fired. The Board of Regents decided to allow teachers to fight termination by arguing the Common Core program was rushed in their school district, not allowing students time to prepare for the tests.
"This is kind of an interesting point because we see the state taking a step back from some of the things they implemented," Catania said.
Catania said it's important for the school board to take a middle-of-the-road approach in implementing the Common Core, by promoting the positive parts and minimizing the bad.
"In Lake Placid we aren't out here to pick winners or losers, if the governor or the Board of Regents are going to win," Catania said. "Our job is to educate the children."