Poor website usability

At the December BOE meeting a parent complained about the lack of a district response to the Newtown tragedy. The person said that there was nothing on the district website. District administrators disagreed, saying that a letter was sent home to students and was also posted to the website.

It turns out that both were correct. The Superintendent's letter was posted on the NECSD website. Unfortunately, when originally posted it was item number seven in a "carousel" style rotating image web page component. A web site visitor who maintained focus on the changing images and then clicked between 28 and 32 seconds later, would be able to retrieve the letter.

The NECSD website continues to do this. Some subset of news items are only available by clicking on the image carousel. This is poor web design.

Newburgh School District closing early

NECSD is closing early today due to inclement weather.

December 18, 2012 BOE meeting video available

Video of the December 18 Newburgh School District Board of Education meeting is available at YouTube.

December 18 BOE meeting bullet points

At the Newburgh School District BOE meeting last night...

  • A representative of the district's crisis intervention team spoke about responding to the events last Friday in Newtown. He said there is a comprehensive group of trained professionals available for the emotional support of students. This includes social workers, psychologists, and guidance counselors. Anyone seeking support should contact the schools to speak with these people.
  • Pre-K through grade 8 students were recognized for achievement in the District Day of Writing.
  • Samyr Laine was recognized by the district. He is an Olympic athlete and NFA graduate.
  • Christine McCartney was recognized. She is a teacher at NFA and has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright scholarship for study abroad.
  • NFA teacher Chris Eachus was recognized. Students voted him Teacher of the Month at WHUD.
  • Several parents spoke passionately about the need for security guards at elementary schools and gaps in security around doors, visiting, etc.
  • A public speaker asked about a "drill" at NFA that involved police being present, students being locked in classrooms, and dogs walking the school. Assistant Superintendant of Finance Pacella referred to this as "drug tests".
  • The board reviewed a "risk assessment" of elementary school security that they had requested at the workshop meeting on Tuesday December 11. The board discussed options to provide additional security to elementary buildings with input from Pacella and Joyce Howard.
  • The board passed a resolution which included: "the Superintendent of Schools is hearby authorized to take immediate steps to recall up to seven per diem security monitors each day to be deployed at the district's elementary schools to insure a significant daily security presence at these schools for the period beginning 12/19/12 and ending 1/22/13".
  • HR Resolution P passed, appointing Executive Director of Bilingual and ESL Services and Community Relations (Noriega).
  • HR Resolution Q passed, appointing acting Assistant Principals at NFA (Mucci and Tummarello).
  • HR Resolution T was added and passed: "makes an appointment of Melissa Siegel and Matt Doddo to the position of Acting Co-Principal at Newburgh Free Academy effective December 12, 2012 and terminating on or before June 30, 2013."
  • NTA President Art Plichta recommended that the focus of improvement efforts be smaller classes, individual help for students, and a focus on the early grades, instead of coaching and professional development. He mentioned kindergarten classes of 28 to 30 students.

Dec 18 NECSD BOE meeting agenda

An agenda and supporting documents for tonight's Newburgh School District BOE meeting are posted at the NECSD website.

Among the HR items:

  • RESOLUTION # 121812 P "appoints Dr. David Noriega to the position of Executive Director for Bilingual/ESL Services & Community Relations"; 3 years; starting February 4, 2013; $154,987.46
  • RESOLUTION # 121812 Q "appoints the following individuals as Acting Assistant Principal at NFA, effective January 2, 2013, at a per diem rate of $294.00: Edward Mucci, Gail Tummarello"

Newburgh Prep follow-up

On the topic of the Newburgh Preparatory Charter School, which recently received NYSED approval, the THRecord reported Tension between educators...

...

Fucheck said the charter school board asked the district to remove a letter signed by schools Superintendent Ralph A. Pizzo imploring the state Education Department to deny the charter school. Fucheck said they, in turn, asked the charter school to delay its opening by a year so the district could find a way compensate for the $1.7 million the state says it will cost to fund the school the first year.

Fucheck said the charter school seemed unlikely to change their opening date of July 1. Pizzo seemed unlikely to budge as well. "I still stand by it," Pizzo said about the letter.

The article says the Newburgh BOE received a letter at the Tuesday workshop meeting. This topic did not appear to come up during the public part of the meeting.

BOE Workshop meeting December 11, 2012

At the December 11 Newburgh School District BOE Workshop meeting there was as an agenda item for the board to discuss responding to three different petitions: for security guards at elementary, reviving the fencing club, and reinstituting an intercampus shuttle bus.

There was a presentation by Sue Sullivan of the Greater Newburgh Partnership, and there was some discussion around students with disabilities statistics.

Here are meeting notes.

USMA Cadets work with Hudson Scholars charter board

West Point cadets recently incorporated work with the Hudson Scholars charter school board into their studies.

Cadets in the American Politics, Policy and Strategy program enjoyed a unique opportunity to examine public policy this semester by partnering with a client in nearby Newburgh.

As part of their capstone course, the cadets in SS480, "Advanced American Politics, Policy and Strategy," partnered with the Board of the proposed Hudson Scholars Charter School, which aims to start a charter school targeting children in low-income, single-parent homes.

This partnership allowed cadets to apply their knowledge of politics, strategy and policy analysis in the service of a real-world client.

Starting in September, the cadets made numerous trips to Newburgh to meet with members of the Hudson Scholars Board, conduct research interviews and examine the complex field of education policy

...

Class of 2013 Cadet Devin Adams said he hopes the client benefits from their analysis of successful public and charter schools "because we were able to give them generally the best practices for what makes a low income urban charter school successful."

...

Full article is on page 5 of this West Point newsletter.

Newburgh Preparatory approved

The Newburgh Preparatory Charter School has recieved NYS approval. There are stories at Mid Hudson News "First charter school in Mid-Hudson to open next fall" and the Times-Herald Record "NY approves charter school for Newburgh".

The MHN article has some good details:

NEWBURGH -- The New York State Board of Regents gave final approval to a five-year charter to the Newburgh Preparatory Charter High School, the first charter school in the Mid-Hudson Valley. Newburgh Prep plans to open its doors on July 1, 2013 for four weeks of staff training followed by student attendance on August 26.

The school will be for students in the greater Newburgh area who have dropped out of high school for whatever reason, according to Board of Trustees President Ramon Vega. The school hopes to enroll 105 students in the first year and add 50 more each year thereafter to reach a total of 305 in its fifth year.

Student registration will begin on February 4, 2013, he said.
...

From the THR article:

...
Administrators for the Newburgh School District, which will have to provide the initial funding for the school, were not available for comment. The state says it will cost the district $1.7 million to fund the school for the first year.
...

NFA Principal resigns April 2013 or sooner

There was a Special Meeting of the Newburgh School District Board of Education at 6PM Tuesday December 11. At 7PM when the audience for the Workshop meeting had assembled the Board voted on three HR resolutions.

A. "Resolution A is to authorize the Board President to execute a separation agreement and general release as presented..."

B. "Resolution B accepts the resignation of Maxine Nodel as the Executive Principal of Newburgh Free Academy effective close of business on April 30, 2013 or such earlier date upon which she commences full time employment elsewhere."

C. "Resolution C appoints Cecilia Dansereau Rumley to the position of Assistant Superintendent for Student Intervention and Support Services at an annual salary of $140,000 effective February 4, 2013."

The eight board members present (correction - only Lewis was absent) approved all three resolutions. Additionally, a CSE recommendation was remanded and a conference request was approved.

Newburgh BOE Meeting November 27, 2012

Video of the November regular BOE meeting is here on YouTube.
At the meeting:

  • Board President Fucheck said NFA Executive Principal Nodel wasn't fired.
  • There was an Energy Savings presentation by Roger Ramjug.
  • Students from the Fencing Club requested that the club be restored.
  • Students requested that the High School intercampus shuttle buses be restored.
  • NTA President Plichta complained about classroom visits by Administrators and others.
  • There was an executive session that lasted until 1AM.
  • After the exec session contracts were approved for Assistant Superintendent of School Improvement Forgit, Assistant Superintendent of Finance Pacella, and Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Leimer.

Plichta comments on classroom visits

During Public Comment time at the November 27, 2012 meeting of the Newburgh School District Board of Education, Newburgh Teachers' Association President Plichta complained about Administrators, Directors, and Coaches coming into classrooms for 20 minutes or more to observe teachers. He said this was a source of stress to teachers.

An unannounced visit certainly might make some teachers uncomfortable, and it it would be nice if this discomfort could be avoided.

However, one of the important problems that the Newburgh School District must solve is how to improve the quality of instruction. For details about what needs improvement, the Teaching section of the NYS JIT reports (Heritage, South, Temple) is a place to start. Similar need for improvement was noted in the "audit of curriculum" reports for Math and ELA.

It is difficult to understand how the district will make the necessary improvements in teaching without carefully observing and understanding how teachers do their work.

Here is video of Plichta's statement.

BOE Workshop meeting November 20, 2012

At the November 20 Newburgh School District BOE Workshop meeting there was discussion about uncompleted construction work and disproportionality in the suspension rate of students with disabilities. Click through for meeting notes.

Newburgh School District awarded grant

From a December 7 NYSED news release.

State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. today announced a $2.5 million School Innovation Fund (SIF) grant to Newburgh Enlarged City School District.
...

Newburgh will use its $2,500,000 grant at Temple Hill Academy to work with partners (The Greater Hudson Valley Family Health Center, The Glenn E. Hines Boys and Girls Club and Mount Saint Mary College) to offer job-embedded professional development delivered by college professors; expand existing youth tobacco prevention education; offer parent access to Orange County's free cessation services; increase access to healthy and affordable food; and provide after-school and summer enrichment programs.

...

According to the Boys & Girls Club of Newburgh website Newburgh School District BOE President Fucheck is Vice President of the Boys & Girls Club Board of Directors. A history page explains that the Glenn E. Hines Memorial Boys & Girls Club of Newburgh merged with the Newburgh Performing Arts Academy in 2011 to form the Boys & Girls Club of Newburgh.

Temple Hill is the sole "priority school" in the NECSD for 2012-2013.

NFA Principal Not Fired

At the Tuesday Nov 27, 2012 Newburgh School District BOE meeting, Board President Fucheck said "Ms Nodel is on a leave of absence and she has not been terminated from the school district."

Here is video of the statement.

Nov 27 BOE Agenda

An agenda and "agenda items" for tonight's Newburgh School District BOE meeting are available from the district web site.

Among the HR agenda items:

  • p 31, Resolution N, creation of an Executive Director for Bilingual Education/ESL Services and Community Relations position.
  • p 32, Resolution O, BOE extends the terms of employment of Ed Forgit as Assistant Superintendent for School Improvement for five years.
  • p 33, Resolution P, BOE extends the terms of employment of Mary Ellen Leimer as Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources for four years.
  • p 34, Resolution Q, BOE extends the terms of employment of Michael Pacella, Jr. as Assistant Superintendent for Business for four years.

NFA Principal Fired

The THRecord reports that "Newburgh school district fires NFA principal".

CITY OF NEWBURGH --The embattled top administrator of the mid-Hudson's largest high school was fired by the Newburgh school district Monday, putting an end to weeks of speculation by teachers and staff.
...
Michael Sussman, Nodel's lawyer, confirmed his client was given news of her dismissal at a meeting with district officials Monday morning.
...

UPDATE: 7:30PM Tuesday Nov 27, at BOE meeting Board President Fucheck said: "Nodel is on a leave of absence and has not been terminated."

Newburgh BOE Meeting November 1, 2012

Due to Hurricane Sandy, the October BOE meeting was delayed until November 1. Video of the meeting is on the Newburghedinfo YouTube channel. And here are some meeting notes.

NYSED Commissioner recommends Newburgh Prep approval

Among the agenda materials for the November 5 NYS Board of Regents meeting was a document recommending approval of the Newburgh Preparatory charter school. Here is a link to the 12 page report.

The report estimates the 2013-14 financial impact on the Newburgh School District to be 1.9 million (1,715,910 "basic tuition" and 201,965 "estimated district special education payment").

The last few paragraphs of the report:

Granting the proposed charter is likely to improve student learning and achievement, will materially further the purposes of the Act and will have a significant educational benefit to the students expected to attend the charter school. This finding is based on the totality of the information presented in the application and during the application review process, as summarized in this document.

Recommendation

Based on the Department's review and findings, Commissioner John B. King, Jr. recommends that the New York State Board of Regents approve the proposal to establish the Newburgh Preparatory Charter High School to open in 2013 in Newburgh, New York.

Pauline Liu has an article in today's Record about Newburgh Prep: Charter school team didn't do all the math.

Arthur Camins article

There's an interesting op-ed in the Washington Post by Arthur H. Camins, director of the Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education at the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey.

A call for President Obama to change course on education
by Arthur H. Camins November 8, 2012

With the election behind us, it is time for the Obama administration to step back from its education policy and access whether its foundation is sound and supported by evidence. It is a moment to summon the courage to change course.

... I have been trying to understand the persistence of education reformers, especially those in federal and state government, in the light of so much contrary, well-articulated evidence. I have been trying to understand how teachers who oppose charter schools and merit pay, or who make the case that schools alone can't undo the effects of poverty, have come to be defined by education reformers as the enemy -- supporters of and apologists for the status quo. Somehow, educators who do not support the reformers' ill-conceived version of disruptive innovation, but who have proposed myriad significant improvement, have been cast as defenders of bad teachers who supposedly believe poverty is destiny. Reformers have become so enamored by their own ideology and so invested in their own course of action that they are unable to recognize the evidence that challenges their policies and unable to recognize the damage it is causing to students.

...

The whole article is well worth reading.

Noticed this via Jerry Moore's website. The "Last N days" links are a great way to see current news.