By Mary Heyl
The ECS Board of Education President Connie Hellwig called the school board meeting to order Tuesday evening, June 19 at 7 p.m.
After making brief changes to the meeting’s agenda, Hellwig opened up the meeting to public comment. Rachel Alexander, parent of an eighth grade student, expressed concern about the implementation of one of the school’s disciplinary actions, the out-of-school suspension policy. Alexander questioned the timeliness and fairness of such a policy at the end of an academic calendar year, and asked the board to give more thought and discussion before implementing the policy. She called for “checks and balances” to be put into place so that the decision for such a disciplinary action is not made solely by Robert Miller, Superintendent of Schools. Hellwig thanked Alexander for bringing her concerns before the board.
Hellwig presented board member Roger Spell with a plaque honoring him for his retirement from the BOE. The members of the board thanked Spell for his service and congratulated him on his retirement. Spell has served on the board since 2007, and Tuesday’s meeting was his final meeting serving on the BOE.
Miller discussed new information related to the U.S. Department of Education’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). While some standards will stay the same, such as the requirement that the school have a 95 percent testing rate, others have changed. ECS will now be given points for those students in the district who complete a G.E.D. program. However, ESSA has determined that schools will receive higher ranks for completed AP courses than dual-enrollment courses. Miller objected to this difference and said that according to ESSA, dual-enrollment courses cannot be tracked like AP courses, which is why they are ranked higher. Miller argued that this data can and should be tracked, and that dual-enrollment courses should be recognized the same as AP courses.
In his Superintendent’s Report, Miller shared a recent report from the National Honor Society that recognized ECS students’ success over the past three decades. Since 1979 when the NHS first awarded its prestigious scholarship, ECS students have been consistently awarded. An ECS student received the scholarship the very first year it was introduced; since 1979, 17 ECS students have received this award to date, making ECS the leading school in Cattaraugus County. Miller said that this year, Kourtney Robinson received it, and she is the first ECS student in five years to receive the award.
Miller reported that ECS ranked consistently high in the Buffalo Business First school rankings, which is based on last school year’s data. The elementary school ranked 22 out of 255 schools, placing it in the 92nd percentile. Miller was pleased to share that the elementary school ranked 8 out of 255 schools in math. The middle school rose in rank from 37 to 29 out of 191 schools, placing ECS in the 85th percentile. Miller noted that the high school rank did drop from 37 to 45 out of 134 schools, but that the high school was solidly in the 67th percentile overall, and in the 74th percentile in social studies. Overall, the district ranked 26 out of 96 districts in Western New York, and ECS remains the highest ranked school in the county.
Additionally, Miller noted that the district ranked 6th in Western New York for teachers’ experience. Miller said, “People come here to teach and they stay. It really speaks volumes about our faculty and the community that educators want to come here and teach.” Overall, Miller was very pleased with the district’s rankings. He added that high school science teacher Blair Wood was recently approved to teach SUPA Physics (Syracuse University Project Advance), a program that allows students to receive college credit for these courses.
MS/HS Principal’s Report
Middle/High School Principal Erich Ploetz shared his recent visit to the Shriner’s Hospital in Erie, Pa. with members of the student council. This year, the student council raised over $600 for the hospital, and Ploetz, along with a small group of students, toured the hospital together. “One of the hidden joys of being student council advisor was this visit,” said Ploetz, commenting on the end of his first year as advisor.
Ploetz said that the last exam of the school year was the Chemistry Regents Exam set for Wednesday, June 20. He added that he and other faculty members were finalizing details for graduation on June 22 and that he was looking forward to his first graduation as ECS middle/high school principal. “I would like to publicly thank all of the students and teachers for their hard work preparing for and administering final exams this year. I know a lot of work goes into this time of year for everyone, and I really appreciate the effort everyone has put forth,” said Ploetz.
Ploetz explained that nearly all of the major events have been scheduled for the 2018/2019 academic year. The live calendar is now available to view on the school’s website, but Ploetz noted that there may be some changes to the schedule. He added that next year’s prom and senior trip had yet to be scheduled, but will be added to the calendar when dates are finalized.
The board approved a request from the Town of Great Valley for ECS to provide transportation for the town’s summer youth program. This program runs from July 9 through Aug. 16. The board also approved the creation of a part-time Special Education Teaching position in the tenure area of Special Education, effective Sept. 1.
Miller was pleased to share a Legislation Resolution from Senator Young congratulating the Ellicottville Girls’ Alpine Ski Team upon the occasion of winning the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Alpine Ski Team Championship for the 2017-2018 school year.
The board approved fall sports coaches for the 2018-2019 school year for the following programs:
• Varsity Football
• Assistant Varsity Football
• JV Football
• Boy’s Varsity Soccer
• Boy’s Assistant Soccer
• Boy’s Modified Soccer
• Girl’s Varsity Soccer
• Girl’s Assistant Soccer
• Girl’s JV Soccer
• Girl’s Modified Soccer
• Girl’s Varsity Volleyball
• Girl’s JV Volleyball
• Girl’s Modified Volleyball
The board also approved advisors for the 2018-2019 school year for the grades 6-8 musical, music association, advisors for each grade (6 through 12), student council (6-12), and the academic, musical and athletic clubs.
The next BOE meeting is the Reorganization Meeting and will take place on Monday, July 9 at 7 p.m. in the high school library.