Mar 28, 2011 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
School district report cards were recently released for primary schools across New York State. The evaluations covered each school in the district, rating their performance and examination scores for math, science, English-language arts as well as information on enrollment and attendance.
Marcellus Central School District students scored well this past year; 159 teachers instructed 1988 pupils among the three facilities. Enrollment in each school has been slowly declining, but the students have consistently posted strong scores. Superintendent Craig Tice says compared to enrollment patterns at other school districts, Marcellus is in good shape.
“For many districts, they’ve seen a sharper decline … we’re pretty fortunate,” Tice said. “So far Marcellus is still a desirable community [to live in].”
Total enrollment across the district decreased from 2,070 in 2007-08 to 2,028 in 2008-09. Enrollment further decreased to 1,988 in 2009-10. The district eliminated 18 full-time positions over the past two years to adjust to declining enrollment.
Marcellus graduates a high percentage of its students. Its graduation rate in 2008-09 was 97 percent, up from 93 percent the previous year.
Tice attributed this to the “strong work of our counselors and our teachers at the high school.” He said they’ve done a great job of meeting the needs of “both the large cohort of students” and the individual students.
“A lot of electives that we offer encourage students to take full course loads,” he added.
The district also scored high in the number of students that go on to pursue a college degree. 96 percent of students at Marcellus planned to attend either two-year or four-year college following graduation.
Marcellus had 98 percent of its students graduate with a regents diploma, up from 94 percent last year. This number compares to the top performing schools in the area – as do the district’s overall regents scores.
“Our regents scores are comparable to Skaneateles and Westhill, F-M, J-D and Cazenovia,” he said, adding: “Out of all those districts, [we have] one of the lowest costs per pupil.”
The percentage of students performing at the mastery level fluctuated in 2009-10 from previous years. For instance, 85 percent of students taking the Comprehensive French regents scored an 85 or higher, up from 74 percent in 2008-09. Mastery level for the Spanish regents, taken by 106 students in 2009-10, dropped to 50 percent from 82 percent the previous year.
“We’re always looking to improve our mastery rates, take a look at students performing at 85 percent or better,” Tice said.
But students are passing at an incredibly high rate. In terms of students passing their foreign language regents exams, the numbers couldn’t be better. 100 percent of students taking both the French and Spanish regents exams passed in each of the past three years.
Tice said the district has strived to make taking foreign language a desirable option for students. “The world is getting smaller every day,” he said. 98 percent of students graduated with a regents diploma, and 71 percent graduated with advanced regents diplomas – which requires students complete a foreign language. 71 percent was third place among area districts, topped only by Skaneateles and Fayetteville-Manlius schools.
Tice expects the school’s success with foreign languages to continue. At the start of this school year, Marcellus added a seventh grade exploratory class to its curriculum where students take rotate between Spanish and French for 20 weeks, then decide which language they will pursue. The class is taught by Audrey Misainno, who is certified in both languages.
“It allows the students to make an informed decision,” Tice said. “Before they would just rely on a neighbor or sibling … now they actually get a little exposure to both in seventh grade.”
Student to teacher
Marcellus currently has around 21 students per classroom across the district. Tice said that number could increase as cuts are made to balance this year’s budget- the district faces a $2.9 million deficit.
“As the cuts happen, you’ll probably start to see some of the class sizes get a little bit larger,” he said.
Tice said he hopes to keep Marcellus performing at its high level through the tough fiscal times, but it will not be easy.
“We’ve worked so hard in Marcellus over the years to develop this high performing district, it’s very frustrating to have to start to dismantle it because of the fiscal problems.
“We want to do what we can to help the taxpayers but at the same time, it shouldn’t be an easy task because this district is something we should be proud of.”
The district will host three town meetings at 7 p.m. on March 30 at the high school, March 31 at the elementary school and April 4 at the middle school. The meetings will feature a budget presentation by the board of education and the superintendent, with a question and answer session to follow.