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Ellicottville schools staying in conversation concerning potential solar fields

By Kellen M. Quigley

During the Ellicottville Central School Board of Education meeting held Oct. 29, Superintendent Robert Miller updated the board on the potential of solar fields coming into Great Valley with a possible location near the school.

Miller said he recently attended both Ellicottville and Great Valley town board meetings, noting that both townships have or are in the process of approving laws that prohibit some types of solar fields but may allow others.

“One of the things that’s really of concern is the taxes,” he said. “The companies have said if they come in we can’t do it at fully assessed value or else it’s not profitable then.”

Miller said the taxes for the solar fields are under the final say of the towns. He said he would like to reach out to both towns again and thank them for allowing the school district to be part of the conversation.

“We understand that there’s a lot of stuff beyond our control with the laws and zoning and that they just keep us in mind as they try to get to a point to sign off on PILOTs,” he said.

Miller noted the difference sizes of what the solar fields can and can’t be as well as what the local substations can handle and what the grid needs or wants are factors in whether or not a field is built in Great Valley or Ellicottville.

“They’re looking at about a 100-acre plot,” he added. “They’re looking at a pretty good size if they can do it in the one location that they’re looking at.” Miller added that it’s likely that there isn’t any district land that would be used for the project.

Also in his report, Miller discussed a recent parent information night held at the school, which he said did not see a big turnout. He said they are going to discuss a future direction for these nights.

The council on addiction and recovery services and Seneca Strong were present, the latter of which did a mock bedroom scenario that showed people how and where students can hide drugs in various bedroom furniture and items.

“This is where they hide it, this is how they use it, if you see one of these this is what they do with it,” Miller explained. He said the there was a lot of good information shared, and the people who did attend said it was an eye-opening event.

The school is also planning to bring a drug education program for students in grades 6-8 in physical education classes with a specialist brought in to teach the program. Miller said they hope to bring more programs like it to the school if the teachers’ and students’ response are good.

Miller also said the school is working with the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Sportsmanship Initiative. He said he is proud of the student athletes, fans and the school, saying he knows the school can be a leader in the area in positive sportsmanship in athletic events.

Concerning the potential capital project, Miller said the district is working with the architects and construction folks on creating a presentation on the project. He said several items have gone out or will be going out with information about the potential project.

“It’s going to be exciting as we look forward and get ready for that presentation in December on the 5th and the vote on the 10th of December,” Miller added.

IN OTHER BUSINESS, Elementary Principal Maren Bush reported that October had been a good month in the elementary school.

She said students learned about astronomy through a star lab, some students recreated a story they recently read with a puppet play and the school held its first character education celebration for students who demonstrated the trait Respect.

“Our next character trait will be Responsibility and we will be having our second pizza party the first Friday of November,” she said.

In the high school, Principal Eric Ploetz submitted a report to Miller, who said a fall variety show is in the works and practices are ongoing in the cafeteria.

“It’s something completely new, something that we’re hoping will take off and hopefully get some kids interested in arts and sports and things of that nature,” he said.

Parent-teacher conferences are upcoming, and Miller said they always get a good turnout of those in past years. He said the schools have the process organized and should go well.

Miller also reported that the middle school musical “Aladdin Jr.” is coming soon, and he said Ploetz is expected to have a cameo appearance in the show.

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