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Storm Chaser

The Storm Chaser provides parents, community members and students with a confidential place to ask questions, address concerns, and dispel rumors or other inaccurate information. Feedback is e-mailed to the district and directed to the person who could best answer the question. The answer will be posted once the response has been received. Please note that some questions and comments are not suitable for this public page. For example, we will not answer questions or post comments or complaints regarding individuals by name, or questions deemed to be inappropriate or inflammatory. For individual or private concerns, we urge you to contact the school or district office directly. Thank you for your consideration.


Storm Chaser questions and replies

Space limits require that we periodically move comments and responses to our archive page. Please visit the Storm Chaser archives to see if your question has already been asked.


It is understood why school has been closed with the current world situation. Adjustments are being made to accommodate the students for prom and graduation as much as possible which is great. What about the awards ceremonies though? The students work hard all year to receive their music awards, athletic awards, senior awards and to be recognized for their accomplishments. Is there any type of virtual ceremony being considered this year?

CVA Principal Dick Keeler is working with staff to address these and other questions. His goal is to find meaningful ways to provide our students, especially Seniors, with opportunities to celebrate their accomplishments.


Is there a plan being put in place for students to obtain their musical instruments and other personal belongings that were left in their lockers or at school?

Yes, the building principals are developing a plan to return personal items from cubbies, hall lockers, and gym lockers. They will communicate those plans to parents. If a student needs a particular item, please contact your school office.


Can the new grading system be explained and the reason behind the switch?

You can find the grading system here. Grading was changed to better reflect the learning taking place during the school closing. If you have specific questions, please reach out to your building principal or the Director of Curriculum Kathleen Carney


When will the CVA track reopen to the public? (posted August 10, 2018)

The turf field was inspected and certified ready for use this week. The track will be evaluated next week. Please watch our website for a post announcing its reopening.


When will high school students receive their class schedules? (posted July 24, 2018)

Students in grade nine will receive class schedule at Freshman Orientation the end of August. Students in grades 10-12 will receive them in the mail a week prior to school starting.


Where did the link to sports game schedules go? (posted August 22, 2017)

The Tri-Valley League switched to new game scheduling software over the summer. That software is now up an running. You can find daily, weekly, monthly schedules by clicking the “Game Schedule – TVL” link in the sidebar on the Athletics page.


Where did the salad bar option for Jarvis students go? (posted April 3, 2017)

This is temporary. Our head cook is on leave. And despite efforts to hire, the Jarvis cafeteria is short-staffed. The salad bar is labor intensive and we lack the people to prepare all of the items. As soon as we are back to a full staff, that salad bar will be back.


Do students at Jarvis receive enough library time to ensure they have books for pleasure reading as well as learning research skills? The library programs seem to be diminished in these days of needing to improve reading levels. (posted November 25, 2016)

All students have access to the media center every day. Students can sign books out during advisory or during their recess time. Grade 5 has a half-year library/computer class. Second semester this year, all students in grades 5-8 will be using the media center to work on a formal research paper. Also, the building just purchased Accelerated Reader software to help motivate students to read independently. (Students complete close reading activities built into nonfiction articles, choose their own independent reading books, and take short reading comprehension quizzes.) Anticipated roll-out is before the Holiday break.


Why can we not hire another PE person so we can have more gym time and physical activity for our kids? We should be able to get more time to approach the mandated time for gym. (posted November 23, 2016)

Giving our Thunder more physical education time sounds like a great idea on paper; the problem is scheduling. Elementary student schedules are already filled with the basics of reading, writing, math, science, etc. They have a six-day rotation for additional courses which include two physical education classes, two music classes, one art class, and one technology class. Dr. Hughes and Mrs. Van Slyke have met with the PE department chairpersons to discuss the challenge of adding more PE time to the school day. The problem remains; adding more PE would require one of two choices: 1) take away from other classes or 2) extend the school day.

This is challenge is not new nor is it unique to Central Valley. Our Thunder currently receive the same PE time as students did in the former Ilion CSD.


Why are the students being assigned homework that must be done on the Internet when not every home has Internet access?  Students have only 30 minutes on the library computers, and are getting lower (even failing grades) because their homework is unfinished. (posted November 20, 2016)

This concern does not identify a building, so we will address all buildings:

CVA: At the beginning of the school year, all students received a personal Chromebook that enables them to access the district’s WiFi throughout the day, including regular class time, study halls, lunch periods and after school. CVA operates an after school study hall 2:15-3 p.m. Monday-Thursday for students needing extra help or extra time to complete work.

Jarvis: Each morning students sign out a Chromebook that they carry and use throughout the day, including advisory, regular class time, study periods, lunch periods, recess, and after school. Jarvis provides all students with additional Internet access after school 2:15-3:30 p.m. each day. That may be shortened for student athletes who board a 2:45 p.m. sports bus to off-site sports practices.

Barringer Road/Fisher: Students receive time in school to complete any work that might require the Internet. As a rule, any homework should not require the Internet.

If a student is unable to complete his or her Internet-related work in this time, please contact your building principal.


Did the district purchase a $2,200 drone? If so, why—given recent conversations about saving money? (posted October 20, 2016)

Yes, the district purchased and registered a DJI Phantom UAV Quadcopter with backup batteries and a hard carrying case for approximately $2,200. An operator can manually fly the drone or create a pre-programmed flight plan, taking photos or videos as it flies. The drone will be used to introduce students to this growing technology and to create videos or take aerial photos of district facilities and/or events. The district routinely invests in new technologies and equipment if they are educationally relevant and open new opportunities for students. Three-dimensional printers, drones, programmable robots, etc. are important teaching tools used to prepare students for real-world careers.


Is there library at Barringer Road Elementary? (posted October 18, 2016)

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? (posted October 18, 2016)

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? (posted October 18, 2016)

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? (posted October 18, 2016)


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? (posted October 18, 2016)


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? (posted October 18, 2016)

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? (posted October 18, 2016)

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
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? (posted October 18, 2016)

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? (posted October 18, 2016)

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? (posted October 18, 2016)

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.


I hear many rumors of sharing sports with Herkimer CSD, is this true? Will we be sharing sports with any school districts this year? (posted July 28, 2015)

Central Valley continues the valley’s tradition of sharing sports. The district’s practice is to share sports when:

1) Sharing increases opportunities for Central Valley athletes. In 2014-15, Central Valley students participated in Proctor High hockey and Notre Dame boys lacrosse, sports CVA does not offer. Numbers for CVA’s boys volleyball were low, so two Frankfort-Schuyler players joined the team to ensure enough players to field the team.

2) Sharing does not negatively impact Central Valley athletes.  A Frankfort-Schuyler boy golfer practiced and traveled with Central Valley, but participated as a team of one in matches. An experienced Frankfort-Schuyler boy tennis player played for CVA, sharing his tennis knowledge with his inexperienced teammates.

3) Sharing does not increase Central Valley expenses. Athletes incur their own travel expenses and equipment costs (if any) to compete at another school.

Although there are no specific plans to share one or more sports with Herkimer, that remains a possibility.


When would the project be completed? (posted April 1, 2015)

The plan is to complete all work in three years, by September 2020.


Would all construction take place at the same time? (posted April 1, 2015)

Construction would take place in phases—one building at a time. Currently, the thought is to begin with the biggest project, Jarvis. That could change, however, based on contractor schedules.


If voters approve the proposed capital project, when does the work begin? (posted March 31, 2015)

If voters approve the project, the architects finalize the plans and submit them to the New York State Education Department (SED) for review and approval. SED signs off after determining that everything in the plan meets education and funding requirements. The district, then, works with the construction manager to request bids for the various aspects of the project—site work, utilities, steel work, masonry, etc.  Once bids are opened and awarded, the district and the construction manager can begin scheduling the actual construction.

This process takes approximately two years. School officials anticipate actual construction to begin in Spring/Summer 2017.


Just trying to find out if there is some other way to find out what the lunch menu is for Jarvis. The menus seem to not be posted on the website normally until the middle of the month or later sometimes.  (posted April 3, 2014)

Students can pick up a copy of the Jarvis menus in their advisory teacher’s classroom. Normally menus are posted online by the first of the month, however there was a delay posting April menus with the switch to the new website. The menus are now posted and if you have trouble viewing them, refresh the web browser in case a cached copy of the page or PDF is displaying.