Aug 29, 2014 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
The Cazenovia board of education last week unanimously approved a revision to the district’s athletic Selection Classification policy in an effort to make the policy clearer and better understood by students, parents and coaches. The revision, which kept the policy intact but clarified its administration, was the result of six months of discussions and the work of a special committee comprised of representatives of the various stakeholder groups on the issue.
Selection Classification is a program under which exceptional seventh or eighth grade student athletes can be moved up to a higher team level after undergoing an application and physical and emotional maturity examination process.
The program came under fire this past January based primarily on the use of the program last year, during which six eighth grade basketball players were advanced through the program. Some board members decried the situation as not only against the intent of the policy but also implausible that six players in one year could meet the level of truly “elite” or “exceptional” athletes as the policy intends.
Board members asked whether the policy’s wording is incorrect, the definition of an “exceptional” athlete is being misapplied and/or misinterpreted to move too many players up and if the policy is even simply unfair to older students who may lose playing time to younger students moved up to higher levels.
District Athletic Director Michael Byrnes conducted a coach survey this spring and the results showed in general that while the majority of district coaches liked the program, they had a “mixed reaction” as to how it was used by their fellow coaches. The board then formed a special working committee comprised of Byrnes, school board members, coaches and parents whose goal would be to consider and revise the policy.
At its Aug. 25 regular monthly meeting, the board heard the final recommendation of the committee, which determined that the Selection Classification policy should remain intact, but the district should do a better job educating students, parents and coaches on why, when and how a student athlete should be recommended for selection classification. The board also clarified how the district athletic director administers the program and recommends student athletes for the program.
The board voted unanimously to approve the revision in the Selection Classification policy language.
The board also heard a presentation concerning the district’s recent work to craft a more customized teacher/principal evaluation program under the state-mandated Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR).
The state’s APPR was developed to ensure that all school districts evaluate their staff in the same way. Its goal is to improve the state’s educational system and support the professional growth of educators, leading to better and consistent student achievement. The statewide evaluation system also was created so that New York state would qualify for millions of dollars under the federal Race to the Top (RTTP) initiative sponsored by President Barack Obama.
Because of the federal requirements, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has mandated that school districts must develop their APPR plans each year, agreed upon by the appropriate labor unions, and submit the plans to the state education department before school starts.
Cazenovia’s APPR Committee, comprised of teachers and administrators from all three district schools, “spent a tremendous amount of time” this summer working to better understand the state regulations and create policies and programs to comply with them in a way that “has a positive impact on instruction and student interaction.”
Committee member and high school teacher Kris Denton gave the board an overview of the APPR regulation and explained what the committee has done this summer crafting Cazenovia’s specific plan. He said the committee has been looking to put more building-wide measures in place in general, while a more specific change was to offer teachers a choice in how they are observed in the classroom as part of their performance reviews by administrators.
Teachers will now have the choice of whether to undergo full-period observations (typically 80 or 90 minutes long), or multiple “mini” observations (lasting about 20 minutes).
Denton said teacher and administrator feedback on the choice option was overwhelmingly in favor of the mini over the full-period observations. He said teachers felt this was less time-consuming in their lesson planning and less intrusive in the classroom, while administrators said it would allow them to manage their schedules better and perform more reviews when they are available (such as three 20-minute reviews in the same time as one long review).
The committee’s work “shows great professionalism and is a great reflection upon what was in place previously [for the district APPR plan] and how to make it better,” said Superintendent Matt Reilley. “This is really a sound plan — it’s beyond compliance.”
Also at the meeting, the board:
—Heard from Assistant Superintendent Bill Furlong that a “vast majority” of district building projects scheduled for the summer have been completed, including the enclosure of the Burton Street Elementary School art kiln for safety and new flooring in the Burton Street music room.
Continuing projects include improved drainage and new aeration procedures for the Burton Street athletic fields.
—Received an overview of the year-end district budget results from Furlong. “The picture is fairly gloomy,” said Reilley. “We are in for a year of fiscal discipline and remain hopeful that the lobbying efforts of our state legislators will get back the money that school districts are owed.”
—Heard from Member Leigh Baldwin that the board’s policy committee recently met and has “recognized the need” to update the district’s school policy manual.
The committee’s current goal is to meet again in October for further discussion on the topic.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.