Board, Staff Working Thru Logistics
By Jann Wiswall
Ellicottville’s newest third grade teacher, Leah Klahn, attended the Aug. 12 meeting of the ECS School Board to introduce herself and thank the board and staff for “believing in me.” She said she is excited to be working at the school and promised to “do my very best to make you proud of me.”
The board thanked her for attending the meeting and welcomed her to the staff.
Superintendent Mark Ward briefed the board on construction progress for the school’s renovation project. Asbestos abatement and other preliminary work, primarily in the basement, is under way now, and contractors have begun erecting sturdy, but temporary, walls to close off the construction site to ensure student and staff safety.
Board member Nikki Klein asked Ward what effect the project might have on students. Ward said that demolition of the gym, locker rooms and other areas is expected to be completed by early October. Students and staff should expect some noise associated with that. However, he added, “the contractors are experienced and attuned to this issue,” and every attempt will be made to minimize impact on student learning. All interior and exterior construction areas will be completely secured and staff will regularly discuss with students the importance of staying away from construction areas.
Safety Drill: Ward stated that there will be an all-school safety drill in September. The date is to be announced and will be well publicized, however, no details about the emergency scenario will be released in advance. All appropriate area fire, police, healthcare and other agencies will be involved.
“Safety drills are essential, not only because we need to practice, but also because we need to look for ways to improve our processes,” Ward explained.
Football Helmets: A recent television news story had a lot of people asking about the helmets provided to ECS football team members. Ward said that the story used very old data to assess Ellicottville’s helmet safety ranking. In truth, he said, “ECS helmets all have 4 (very good) and 5 (best available) star safety ratings. We’re committed to giving our kids the best equipment we can.”
2014-15 Enrollment: Formal registration for school is still under way, but current estimates put enrollment at about 600 students plus another 20 or so students who go off-site for school. This is about the same as last year’s enrollment. Final data will be reported after school begins.
The board’s Building, Grounds and Transportation Committee plans to donate some old sporting equipment, donated to ECS by the Buffalo Bills many years ago, to the ECS Sports Boosters. Committee chair Roger Spell also said that the roof on the bus garage is in process, the new school bus is being delivered this week, some leaks in portions of the roof not being replaced during the new construction must be repaired, and potholes in some of the school’s driveways are being filled by the Great Valley and Town of Ellicottville highway departments.
Spell asked about plans for the football cheerleading squad for the upcoming school year – the first year ECS and Franklinville are being merged as a football team. Middle/High School Principal Bob Miller said Franklinville’s cheerleading representative suggested that each squad cheer at two of the four home games. Spell said that the ECS squad members were hoping to both practice and cheer with Franklinville. Miller felt that practicing together would be difficult from a transportation perspective, but that he would talk with Franklinville again about other options.
Elementary School Principal Connie Poulin said that she and Miller have been working together on scheduling and working through issues they share related to the complications involved with operating during construction. She also said she is working to fill two AmeriCorps teaching positions and to complete opening day packets.
Miller said that, in addition to working through logistical issues with Poulin, he is planning an ice cream social for incoming seniors and their parents.
He also noted that the September issue of the school’s newsletter will include detailed logistical information about what to expect this year during construction, especially regarding physical education classes — which is by far the biggest challenge. Miller said the staff has put in a lot of time getting those classes scheduled and advises students: “Don’t ask to change your scheduled P.E. time!”
In addition, he said, he is working closely with P.E. teachers and coaches to come up with creative solutions for gym class activities and that students should plan for more outdoor time.
The next meeting of the ECS board will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 26 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school library.