Highland School Board reviews district goals

By Stacia Donaldson
Posted 11/20/19

Superintendent Jon Bongiovi hosted a special presentation at this month’s Highland Central School District Board of Education meeting outlining the district’s goals for the upcoming …

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Highland School Board reviews district goals


Superintendent Jon Bongiovi hosted a special presentation at this month’s Highland Central School District Board of Education meeting outlining the district’s goals for the upcoming school year.

Bongiovi stressed the importance of writing down and reviewing the district’s goals every year. It is a way, according to Bongiovi, for members of the district to be on the same page and working in the same direction. In the 2019-20 academic year, Highland will work to improve student growth in areas such as math, writing, science and project based learning. One area of focus will be increasing participation in the New York State testing for grades 3-8 through a districtwide education campaign. The district will also continue to work on its comprehensive K-12 STEM program.

Already, two STEM teacher positions have been created. Taking a look at the social and emotional support of its students, Highland Central School District will be providing QPR suicide prevention protocol training for staff and students and continue to expand the Backpack Program, which provides backpacks filled with food for students who may need assistance over the weekends. Finally, the district will continue to maintain its fiscal stability of the Highland Central Schools by providing the highest level of education at a price the community can afford. The district will begin work on their long-range financial plan and will continue to review their operations costs.

Students of the Month for November

This month, Highland Elementary School named fifth grader Charlie Vogt their Student of the Month. Charlie is a fifth grade helper in the schools Kindergarten program, and is known for always saying good morning and goodbye to students and staff. In the future, Charlie would like to be a baker, specializing in big cakes.

Highland Middle School honored Garand Cockburn as their Student of the Month. Ms. Cockburn is always ready to share a story and a smile. She is known for her positive nature, insightful ideas and her imaginative writing.

Finally, Highland High School named Richard Redner (not pictured) as Student of the Month for November. Besides taking three college level courses, Redner is employed at the New Paltz McDonalds. He is still unsure of his plans after High School, but would like to someday be a family man. His dedication to overcoming any obstacle in his path makes him an exceptional Student of the Month.

Highland resident seeks clarification regarding districts sports participation policy

Eric Ruskin, a local resident and parent, stood before the Board of Education to ask for clarification of the districts athletic placement process. Currently, the Highland Central School District must follow the New York State regulations regarding athletic placement which included regulations regarding the eligibility of students wishing to participate.

Part of this policy includes a physical, performed at the school health office or with a private physician, that is reviewed by the school district’s Medical Director. This ensures that all student athletes are competing against students of similar maturity and physical fitness. Referencing his daughter’s struggle to meet the medical clearance process, Mr. Ruskin feels that the district may not be implementing the athletic placement process effectively. He has asked that the Board of Education, along with the Superintendent, review the policy and his daughter’s situation and provide clarification.

Ruskin also asked the Board to look into the reason his application to be a volunteer coach in the district was denied, even after he had paid for and completed the necessary certifications. Board of Education President Alan Barone agreed to review both matters and would contact Mr. Ruskin privately with the Board’s findings.

“Socktober” a huge success

Three classes at the Highland Elementary School collected socks throughout the month of October during the “Socktober” sock drive.

The school will donate each pair of socks collected to local organizations, where they will be distributed to those in need.

At the time of the Board of Education meeting, it was announced that the students have collected 1973 pairs of socks, needing only 27 more pairs to reach 2000 socks. Highland Middle School also got into the spirit of Socktober by collecting 372 pairs of socks. At the end of the drive on Wednesday, November 13, a total of 2033 pairs of socks were collected, double the student’s original goal of 1000 pairs. Principal Freer publicly thanked On a Roll Deli, who graciously placed collection boxes in their deli, and has invited all three classes to a special lunch to celebrate.

Highland Middle School in the running to receive grant for Bike Program

Highland Middle School has applied for a grant from the Specialized Bicycle Company in the hopes of receiving 30 new bicycles for their Bike Program. Initially, the middle school was turned down for the grant. However, after reaching out and clarifying some information on the original application, the Middle School is now back in the running, making it to the second round. Highland Middle School will be submitting a video application as part of the second round in the spring of 2020.

Bus with six-foot safety arm helping to keep students safe

In September, the Highland School District bus garage received numerous complaints of vehicles passing stopped school busses as they were picking up and dropping off students. It is illegal to pass a school bus with its lights on and stop sign displayed because it creates and unsafe situation for the students. To help remind and deter vehicles from passing stopped busses, one Highland bus is piloting a new, six-foot extendable bar which essentially blocks the opposite lane of the road. While some vehicles have continued to pass this bus by going around and even under the safety bar, it has been deemed effective. This bus feature, with an estimated cost of $2000, is designed for those school bus routes that stop on major roads. Many of the district bus routes utilize back roads, making the six-foot bar unusable for most of Highland’s bus routes. The district plans to try out the six-foot bar on different bus routes to evaluate if more buses will be fitted with this safety feature in the future.

The next meeting of the Highland Central School District Board of Education returns to the Highland High School on Tuesday December 3 at 7 p.m.


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