Even though a fierce snowstorm blanketed the state last week, the Marlboro School Board held their final board meeting of the year via Zoom. Superintendent Michael Brooks took a few moments to thank the district’s Buildings and Grounds crew.
“I know they did a fantastic job working through the night and then showed up early this morning to make sure that they worked on our facilities. It was just yeoman’s work from a great group of people,” he said. “The dedication from our Buildings and Grounds crew, time and time again, is just phenomenal.”
Brooks has begun his annual observations of all of the district’s untenured teachers.
“So far I’ve done four of them and all four have been joining me on the Google Meet and I have some in-person ones coming up. The Google Meet really gives me the true experience of what our children, what our staff are going through. I am so impressed with what our teachers and our students are doing and the support from our families.”
Robin Hecht, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, touted the success of the district bringing back their English as a New Language [ENL] students, which started with in-person instruction but is now all virtual.
Hecht said they are collaborating with the administration and teachers on the Special Education Plan Development for January.
“This will look different in every building depending on available room and class sizes but this is something we’ve been working on daily,” she said.
Hecht said they are continuing to revise their K-12 maps by aligning them with the most up to date standards, unit by unit, each month. She said the district is also providing professional development to support curriculum, instructional strategies and the technology the teachers are using in their classrooms and at home.
Hecht said the Administration is on track with their Annual Professional Performance Reviews [APPR] on all teachers and Principals.
“I have also joined several Google Meets to observe and I am very impressed with the manner in which our teachers are doing their observations and their lessons in the classrooms and the participation of children,” she said.
Hecht said the Chrome books have been distributed to grades 1,2,3 and 9, “so we are now a K-12, one-to-one device program and we are continuing to provide professional learning support for our students, our teachers and our parents.”
Hecht noted that computer-based testing for New York 3 through 8 Assessment is, “still on the docket and we are doing virtual training for students and teachers for the January simulation for English Language Arts [ELA]. She added that the district is continuing to develop parent technology and virtual learning pamphlets to help parents and students prepare. The NYS Regents scheduled in January, however, have been canceled.
“I would like to thank our teachers and our administration for all the work that they’re doing to make this successful,” Hecht concluded.
Michael Bakatsias, Assistant Superintendent for Technology and Personnel, updated the board on recent classroom technologies, noting that all are operating normally.
Bakatsias said the delivery of chrome books that he spoke about at the last board meeting have all came in as scheduled and were delivered to the families of elementary school students very soon after their arrival.
Bakatsias said online Google & Classlink are both operating well and training is ongoing. He noted that the technology plans for the Capital Project, Vision 2020, are also under review.
Rosanne Mele, Assistant Superintendent for Business and Personnel, said recently the district saw an uptick of positive Covid -19 cases as well as isolations.
“It got to be a big juggling act with our staff that had to be isolated,” she said. “I really wanted to thank the parents for communicating with their [child’s] teachers and the school nurses on their situations and making the right choices of keeping their students home if they were unsure or if they were exposed. That really helped keep our faculty, staff and students safe.” She made a point of thanking the school nurses and the clerical staff who handled the isolations and made sure that subs were called in when needed.
Mele touched upon the 2021-22 school budget, pointing out that all of the buildings and departments have their budgets and are aiming to have a zero increase for next year.
“They are working hard with the funds that they currently are allocated to build their budgets for next year,” she said. “We will be meeting with all of the buildings and departments to make sure we meet the needs of the building and also remain financially responsible.”
The board voted to approve raising the minimum wage to $15/hr for their workers. Board member Michael Connors was the lone no vote on this motion, stating that he is not against an eventual raise but at the moment he believes it is premature.
Superintendent Brooks said the Governor’s winter strategy on dealing with the pandemic appears to be based on infection and hospitalization rates. At a webinar he attended with NYS officials he repeatedly asked that the state provide the metrics that were used for the red, orange and yellow designations, however this went unanswered.
Brooks said Marlboro is working to align the district with requirements they anticipate will allow the distinct to remain open. He said this week the district’s Nursing staff has begun covid test training, “and we are in receipt of a cadre of rapid tests provided by the Ulster County Department of Health [UC DOH].”