The Richfield Springs Board of Education got a first hand report of Alternative Education class from teacher, Joe Manzo who told the board, “I try to teach these kids to succeed and once they do, it is contagious. It’s tough every day to convince kids they need education and to combat the ‘why do I need this?’ attitude that some have.”
Manzo went on to tell those in attendance at the January 21 meeting that every day is rewarding and the academic and behavioral issues that his class members came in with in September are turning around.
Manzo explained he is using field trips and a less structured environment to focus on career education and develop teamwork, critical thinking skills, and motivate his class to show that education is important. According to administrators his class members are passing academic classes and the disciplinary referrals has been drastically reduced. “The program’s working and feedback from parents is positive,” added Manzo.
Reading teacher Susan Otis reported that Performance by Design is in its fourth year of use at the school in grades two through eight. “We are making gains and we’ll continue to see results in our students’ test scores as teachers use this system of structures to teach their students to write and answer responses on tests. Superintendent Robert Barraco told the board that Otis is an integral part of the programs success and thanked her for her work with the district’s students.
Technology Director Jim Hill reported on the Apple Computer conference he and Superintendent Robert Barraco attended in New York City. Hill stressed to the board that ‘we need to change the way we teach’ and that one of the most significant accomplishments the district made in recent years was the “laptops for teachers” initiative a few years back. The district is continuing to make advances in the area of computer technology and perhaps moving eventually to an Apple 1 to 1 Computer program for students in a few years.
Superintendent Robert Barraco reported that shared services are being looked at in an effort to utilize athletics, technology, staff, transportation, and educational programs with other area schools. Transportation and Technology budgetary needs for the next school year will be the focus of the Feb. 11 board meeting. At the February 25 meeting the budgetary needs of Special Education, Library, and Maintenance departments will be looked at, followed by the instructional and Athletic programs at the first meeting in March. Work on the next phase of the Excel project will include revamping bathroom and locker room facilities, new student lockers on the second floor of the school, new bleachers in the old and new gyms, revamping the phone and intercom system in the school, and updating the entry way security system.
In other action the old scoreboard from the elementary gym was declared surplus and ready to discard. At the next meeting the board will update board policies on procurement of goods and services; financial management; financial reports and statements; certification of payroll; acceptable use for network and Internet access; alcohol consumption by students; a policy on volunteers who work with students; and extracurricular activities.
Several coaching and substitute teaching appointments were made. A superintendent’s forum on shared services will be held on February 3 at 7 p.m. in the LGI room; and the next regularly scheduled board meeting will be February 11 at 7 p.m. in the school cafeteria.
Bruce Watson is a freelance writer for The Mercury and currently substitutes for ODY. He is a recent retiree of RSCS.