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Answers to BOE questions

The Central Valley Board of Education routinely receives questions regarding school programs and policies. Following are some of those questions and corresponding answers gathered from:

Michele Pilla, Principal of Harry M. Fisher Elementary School (PK-1)
Jeremy Rich, Principal of Barringer Road Elementary School (2-4)
Melissa Hoskey, Principal of Gregory B. Jarvis Middle School (5-8)
Richard Keeler, Principal, Central Valley Academy (9-12)
Lisa Hoffman, Director of Student Services
Ken Long, Business Official

Please note, all questions and answers will be posted on the district’s Storm Chaser page.

Is there library at Barringer Road Elementary?

Yes. Every six days, students come to the library with their teachers where library aide Mrs. Bechard teaches a mini-lesson on how to use the library. Students then select books to sign out. If needed, the teacher can help children find interesting books on their reading level. The change is that library is now a 20-minute “mini special” instead of a full 35 minutes. That time is broken down as follows:

Library Activity 2015-16 2016-17
Lesson/Selecting Books 25 min. 20 min.
Student Free Reading 10 min. 0 min.
Total Library Time 35 min. 20 min.

In the past, staff allowed 10 minutes for older students (2-4) to read silently. Principal Jeremy Rich met with district librarians and tech staff to review the changes. They are confident the loss of five minutes in lesson or selecting books will not negatively affect students and that students were learning the important library skills they need to be successful in their school careers.

This new schedule provides students with essential library skills and access to recreational reading books AND  two classes of physical education, two music classes, one art class and one technology class.

Have elementary co-integrated classrooms reduced the time available for specialized help?

No, the opposite is true. Co-integration simply means that struggling students are fully a part of the classroom versus being pulled out for separate instruction. The Department of Education’s view is that struggling students make better progress in a general education classroom, especially at the elementary level. Central Valley’s co-integrated model supports personalized instruction by placing two teachers and an aide in one classroom. This allows teachers to better tailor instruction to meet the needs of the individual student through:

Parallel Model: The teacher divides the class into two groups, instructing one half of the class at a time. Students learn the same material, but the smaller group allows more personal engagement and feedback between the individual student and the teacher.
Alternate Model: One teacher offers more specialized instruction or re-teaches students who may be struggling with the material. A second teacher works with the remainder of class.
Rotational Model: Two teachers rotate through small groups of students who are at similar levels of mastery. Students also work independently. This model allows teachers to provide more specialized assistance.

Do PreK-1 students at Fisher receive technology instruction?

Yes, technology is embedded in everyday learning. First graders take keyboarding on a six-day rotation. First graders and kindergartners regularly visit the computer lab for instruction and practice in ELA and math skills. Kindergartners use iPads daily in class. PreK students use iPads in class.

Do elementary students receive bathroom breaks?

Yes.

Fisher Elementary: PreK and kindergarten students have bathrooms in their classrooms and teachers allow students to use bathroom as needed. First grade teachers provide routine bathroom breaks for the entire classroom and allow individual students access as needed throughout the remainder of the day.

Barringer Road Elementary: Entire classrooms have scheduled breaks twice daily. Teachers allow individual access throughout the day.

Do elementary students have recess?

Yes.

Fisher Elementary: Teachers take students out for 20-minute recess each day. There is no longer lunch recess.

Barringer Road Elementary: Students receive recess every day. On rare occasions (special school assemblies or activities), there is no recess.

Are class sizes too big?

No. Although individual class sizes may vary as students move in or out of the district, class sizes are consistent with recommendations. The following compares merger study recommendations to actual class sizes:

Grade Recommended
Class Size
Actual Class Size
PreK 18 16.5
K 20 17.9
1 20 19.5
2 22 18.3
3 22 22.1
4 24 18.5
5 24 Capped at 25
6 24 Capped at 25
7-12 25 Capped at 25

Have we eliminated electives?

Jarvis Middle School:

Last year: For non-STREAM students, Jarvis offered public speaking, personal finance, college career planning , etc. as a way to eliminate study halls. These were not electives, but were added into students’ schedules. STREAM students had project-based learning labs instead of study halls.

This year: Jarvis students have more time in core ELA and math classes to work on fundamental skills for academic success. All 5-8 students have access to foreign language, family and consumer sciences, and technology. New for eighth graders are electives earning high school credit—Personal Finance, Drawing Design & Production, Theater, and Studies in Art. Note: Fine Arts electives align with New York’s new Fine Arts Pathway to Graduation.

Central Valley Academy: The number of electives varies each year based on student interest, class rigor, and teacher certification. Available electives such as Women’s Health and Advanced Health are effected by these variables. If there there is greater student interest, teachers could be reassigned to electives instead of covering duty periods (such as study halls, hall supervision, gym supervision during lunch, etc.).  Any other changes are tied to rigor and interest. The chart below tracks electives offered pre-merger through 2016-17:

Year 12-13
Pre-merger
13-14 14-15 15-16 16-17
Electives Offered 38 59 58 70 61

Is the Jarvis lunch period shorter than it was last year?

Yes, by one minute.

For the last two years, lunch was 20-minute lunch/20-minute recess/one-minute transition. This year it is 20-minute lunch/20-minute recess. Staff is flexible to avoid limiting a student’s lunch time for transition.

Lunch periods are 4, 5, 6, and 7 (in a nine-period day). The first lunch period begins at 9:57 a.m., 30 minutes earlier than last year. Those students eating early are given the option of a snack time.

Fifth graders can struggle to make the adjustment from the 35-minute lunch period in elementary school. Although they had no lunch recess in elementary school, they are accustomed to a leisurely time of eating and socializing. Middle school requires students to eat, then socialize. Most fifth graders transition comfortably in the first few weeks. For those who do not, they are allowed to stay for a few extra minutes past the regular end of their lunch period to finish.

Why does Fisher Elementary now use the former bus loop for cars?

Fisher has 125 students who ride home with their parents every day. Those cars filled Fisher Ave. and spilled into Johnson Ave. and Columbia St. creating a hazard for drivers and students. To alleviate the problem, cars now access the school via Hammond St. and loop around the Lower Tolpa parking lot. Buses pick up students at the Fisher Ave. entrance. Buses pull forward allowing students to quickly and safely board from the safety of sidewalk. No student walks into the street to ride a bus.

Are students boarding school buses in the dark?

Yes. The 20-minute time change for 5-12 students means there will be more days boarding in the dark than in past years (not accounting for daylight savings time). Students, especially those living in the country, have always boarded in the dark during the winter. To increase safety, those rural buses are now equipped with exterior lights to illuminate the area near the bus steps. One advantage of the change is that with the later start time form elementary school, the youngest Thunder board later and will seldom—if ever—board in the dark.

Also, the furthest any 5-12 students could potentially walk in the dark is one mile—far less than New York State Department of Education limits of two mile for K-8 and three miles for 9-12.