Sunday, November 13, 2016

My Response to the Post-Election Comments at Liverpool High School:  

If you’ve been following the recent developments regarding the article posted in response to the post-election talk given by a Liverpool High School teacher . . . to her high school students -- you may have been shocked, surprised, or disappointed – by either the reaction for or against the situation as it unfolded. 

The article included a transcript of the entire message shared with students.  The teacher’s intention [in my eyes] was to convey to each and every student that we [Liverpool] will do our utmost to make everyone to feel safe and protected.  Given the behavior(s) observed throughout the election process, our students, community, and our entire country need a subtle reminder to be respectful of each other's differences and continue to create a sense of community through dignity.

Given the fact that not everyone holds consistent points of view specific to politics, I believe we must all search for solace, benevolence and humanity as we continue to support our future changes.  President-Elect Trump exclaimed, “Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division.”  He continued,  I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help, so we can work together and unify our great country,”

I believe we have an obligation to provide all of our students with connections; we must also continue to ensure emotional safety and security for all students – now and into the future.  I will continue to strive for educational excellence for all of our students in all of our classrooms. Thank you for your confidence and commitment supporting the school district and the challenges before us.
As the 2016-2017 School Year unfolds . . . you may be aware of significant changes that have been enacted as a result of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act . . . the new reauthorization entitled: “Every Student Succeeds Act” – replacing the previous ‘No Child Left Behind.’  As the school year continues – I will provide updates and mandate expectations which directly impacts both the law changes in Washington DC – was well our students and programs locally, in Liverpool.
As we approach the completion of the first ¼ of the school year, I want to thank everyone for their continued support of our students, our staff, our programs and our school district.  We are very fortunate to have an incredibly caring and supportive community willing to share your students with us. As we continue to move along through the school year, we will undoubtedly continue to ask for your partnership in many areas.
Safety and Security Planning: The New York State Education Department has directed school buildings to modify the previous fire/evacuation requirements (included in our Building Safety Plans) to now include 4 lockdown drills (in addition to the 8 evacuation drills). To increase the effectiveness of drill our planning . . . and, in response to potential intruders -- we will vary these drills with different specific scenarios and details. As we began the school year, we prepared our youngest students for these drills in an effort not to scare or frighten them; as the year progresses - these drills will be unannounced.
2017-2018 Budget Focus: A critical part of building safety and security is to reassure everyone that those individuals inside of the building are not at risk while in our care. As we encounter more and more social, emotional and mental health issues within our students, we have the responsibility to respond and react in a proactive manner.  As such, planning for the upcoming school year will focus on additional counseling staff, social-emotional services and alignment of our existing staff to optimally serve all of our students. I have asked our administration, faculty and staff to make additional efforts to get to know our students, continue to build relationships, and work in collaborative setting so as to reap as much benefit as possible keeping students at the forefront of our planning, programming, discussions and dialogue.  Please take time to reach out and get to know the counselor, social worker, or psychologist in your child's school(s).
Water quality testing: As you are probably aware, New York State recently made significant changes in the water testing expectations at all school building locations.  We have tested all of the various sinks, drinking fountains, ice machines, etc. for water quality. As test results were returned back to the district – some areas were identified with levels slightly higher than acceptable levels . . . as determined by the Department of Health and the New York State Education Department.  In all cases where this condition was found, we have replaced the water fountain, water faucet, or other potable water equipment.  If the equipment was determined unusable – we have discontinued using the source.  As such, we will continue working with the Onondaga County Department of Health to resolve any further issues.

Presidential Election Impact:  As we all are aware, significant changes in our world will likely follow the shift in national leadership from President Obama to President-Elect Trump.  Many of our families have followed the recent developments regarding a couple of our Liverpool High School teachers sharing a speech/comments with students.  I will provide another blog with my thoughts/comments.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wednesday, February 10, 2016:

School budget development typically begins in the formal sense around November each year and culminates once the Board of Education adopts the approved budget, which is presented to the community in the form of a resolution and voted upon annually on the 3rd Tuesday in May each year.

What sometimes isn't always understood is how the annual budget is built or gets created . . . budget planning requires school officials to work in a 3-year model - the year we just finished; the year we are currently in; and, the year we are working towards.  So, for us -- this means, we are still focused on the 2014-2015 budget (considering funds were encumber last year but sometimes get spent on the current year); 2015-2016 budget (account codes, budget lines, programs, staffing, and other expenses are evaluated for effectiveness and whether the funds appropriated are meeting with expectations); and 2016-2017 (the budget priorities, mandates, new initiatives, community support, as well as state fiscal support all play a significant function in the development process).

As simple as all of this sounds - the reality is . . . the budget development is still based on balancing the appropriations and expenses identified in the budget with the revenues (local, County, State, or Federal).  As we all have experienced over the past 7 years, budget development has become more of a waiting game.  We identify our priorities within the Liverpool School system, but must patiently wait until the State Legislature (Senate and Assembly) banter with our NY State Governor over limited funds, personalized projects, promises made for funding in the form of legislative bills, and other back door deals.

So, I am supposed to deliver the LCSD Proposed Budget draft to the Board of Education on Monday, February 22nd.  In past years, the Superintendent would present this draft (a completed and balanced budget) to the Board . . . where conversations would enlighten the BOE members with the district's educational goals and priorities.  Since the Gap Elimination Adjustment has been enacted by the State  (2009) - we simply wait until the negotiations have ceased and the aid runs for each school district have been shared.  At that point, we are relatively confident with the aid formula and funds dedicated to Liverpool.  So, on Monday, February 22nd - I will be able to share our celebrations, victories, and educational accomplishments . . . as well as the initiatives that have produced (in some cases) very little in return.  I will be able to share the budget drivers for both appropriations and for revenues (at this point in time), but I will not be able to submit a balanced budget to the Board until the Legislature has completed the perimeters for creating the NYS Budget.  Unfortunately, this has become the reality with our state government.

  • Liverpool CSD Capital / Facility Improvements (Phase 3 Building Project) Update:
On January 11, 2016 - The Liverpool CSD Board of Education approved the resolution to bring a Phase 3 Facility Improvement Project to a community vote on Thursday, March 10th.  The project includes renovation improvements at Liverpool High School (including security improvements by redesigning the building entrance, improvements in the gymnasium area, expansion of the current auditorium, and improvements in the heating plant including upgrades with the HVAC system).  Other work throughout the district will include a roof replacement at the Wetzel Road Building; also work at the Transportation Center including blacktop repairs, fuel tank removal and replacement, and vehicle lift replacements.

The Phase 3 project cost total is approximately $39.4 million dollars; the project is aided at approximately 87%; we will be asking voters to consider using $2,650,278 from the district's Capital Reserve to off-set the local share.  The project will cost the Liverpool community approximately $13.80 per $100,000 of assessed home value.

  • Initiatives and Priorities for Liverpool:
Over the course of the 2015-2016 school year - we have set out to focus on the following initiatives:

1) Completion of our 5-year Strategic Plan (completed September 2015);
2) Begin  a 1:1 Technology Device initiative;
3) Implement Project-Based Learning Environments;
4) Initiate Google Platform as the district focus;
5) Communication Plan;
6) Professional Development Plan;
7) Community-Partnership Plan;
8) S.T.E.M. Alignment;
9) Replace District Signage;

Over the course of the year - I will continue to update the community as progress is made specific to each of the identified initiatives above.

  • Common Core, State Assessments, and the Impact for Everyone (including APPR):
Since the onset on High Stakes Testing, Common Core, the Reform Agenda, and Data Driven Instruction . . . all promoted from the Obama initiative "Race To The Top".  New York Sate was an early adopter in the conversion race to Common Core State Standards.  But, following the past couple years (especially the opt-out movement) --  much has been reconsidered and a significant shift has demonstrated keen listening from the State Education Department and the Board of Regents.  About 6 years ago the legislation shift into state law 3012(c) demanded higher standards for student achievement linking student assessment results to teacher evaluations.

With the migration into state law 3012(d), much of the stress placed on students and the confusion between teacher evaluation and teacher observation has been modified through the A.P.P.R. (Annual Professional Performance Review) plan changes.  At this point, student "growth" scores will not used to determine teacher performance ratings; student assessments have been significantly altered with shorter passages and less time dedicated annually in classrooms on formalized testing; and, schools are expected to focus on teaching, learning and find ways to educate students in an environment that is fun, exciting and links student's individual needs to future ready skills.

Thank You,

Dr. Mark F. Potter

Monday, January 4, 2016

January 4, 2016:

Welcome to 2016 and . . . at least for a short period of time, Welcome Back Winter!   5 degrees this morning.  We haven't seen that chill since last February.  This change in our weather pattern will be appreciated by those folks who love to ski or enjoy other outdoor winter activities - that requires snow and/or ice.

So, thinking about the new year and 2016 . . . What are some of your resolutions for the coming year . . . to eat healthier, to be more active physically, or do you have other interests?

I'm also curious and wondering what changes will we be seeing in the coming months that will impact our schools, our programs, our budgets, and our community.  We have already seen the NYS Board of Regents respond to some of the Common Core push back by modifying their original regulations for "High Stakes" testing and the use of student assessments for teacher evaluations.  I am wondering how Governor Cuomo will respond to their changes . . . are we going to see new legislation modifying 3012(d) with another iteration - perhaps 3012(e)?  Time will tell!

I want to provide everyone with some insight regarding a potential Phase 3 Capital Project on the drawing board for the Liverpool Central School District.  Currently the Board of Education is contemplating a $39 million facility improvement project that will address many of the building issues primarily at Liverpool High School.  The project also is proposed to replace a portion of the roof at the Wetzel Elementary Building and address some of the facility needs at the Transportation Center on Long Branch Road.   Following the January 11th Board of Education meeting, I will be able to provide more specific details . . . if approved.  Hopefully, very shortly - I can provide an update on the status of the Chestnut Hill Elementary and Middle School Building Project(s).  We are still awaiting approval from the New York State Department of Education (and yes, it's been 1 year since we submitted that project to NYSED).

Stay warm and enjoy what seasonal changes upstate New York has to offer.

Mark F. Potter, Ed. D.