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ECS Testing Opt-Out Rate Remains Low

1 Percent Budget Increase Proposed

By Jann Wiswall

At its board meeting on Tuesday, April 5, the Ellicottville School Board’s first question was: how many students opted out of state testing?

Tuesday was the first day of English Language Arts testing for New York public school students in grades 3-8. While data could change over the course of both ELA and Math testing, and precise numbers are not yet available, Superintendent Mark Ward said that preliminary estimates indicate a 7 percent overall opt-out rate this year – which is about the same as last year.

Elementary School Principal Connie Poulin noted that, for grades 3-6, the rate is much lower than for grades 7-8. In eighth grade, nine students out of the class of 44 opted out of testing (about 20 percent) with their parents’ permission. Figures were not yet available for seventh grade.

Students who opt out must spend testing-time reading in the library.

Ward commented that he feels that the “steps the state has taken to mitigate issues have been great,” noting that the state has eliminated test-taking time limits, shortened the length of the tests and de-coupled student test results from teacher evaluation.

Ward maintains that “tests are good. It’s good to be able to compare our kids to other students, schools, counties and the state. It’s good to have this information to show growth.”

And, he noted, “They’re good practice. They help prepare students for Regents exams, college entrance exams and for life in the real world.”

The board has approved a proposed 2016-17 budget, which must be approved by voters on Tuesday, May 17. The basic budget (Proposition No. 1) is an increase of $283,000 over last year. With the lease of two buses (Proposition No. 2) and the same contribution to the Ellicottville Memorial Library as was approved by voters last year, the total budget increase comes to about 1 percent.

The board approved the final language for the two budget propositions as follows:

PROPOSITION NO. 1 – Basic Budget

Shall the following resolution be adopted, to wit: Resolved: That the Board of Education of the Ellicottville Central School District in the County of Cattaraugus, State of New York, BE AND IS HEREBY AUTHORIZED TO EXPEND THE SUM OF $11,903,306 for the 2016-2017 school year budget. The Basic Budget will provide funds for all of the educationally related services and the maintenance of our school building.

PROPOSITION NO. 2 – School Bus Lease

Shall the following resolution be adopted, to wit: Resolved: This proposition will authorize the Board of Education of the Ellicottville Central School District in the County of Cattaraugus, State of New York, to levy an additional (not to exceed) $32,000 to lease 2 IC CE (66 passenger) 2017 International School Buses for each of the next five years commencing with the 2016-2017 school year.

In other business, Poulin reported that the school’s strategic planning process is nearing completion. Committees are meeting on May 2 to make final changes before sending the plan to the School Board for review and approval.

Middle/High School Principal Bob Miller reported that the annual Science and Math Expo will be held on May 17 and that students from several BOCES programs will be participating this year. He also reported that nine 11th graders will be inducted into this year’s National Honor Society at a banquet scheduled for Sunday, April 10. And, the ECS Senior Quiz Bowl Team, which includes Shelby Toth, Will Timkey, Victor Reiman and Robert Spell, will be heading to Washington, DC, for the high school National Academic Championships in June.

The next regular meeting of the Ellicottville School Board will be held on Tuesday, April 26 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school library.

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