by Janet Schultz
Despite budget problems statewide, the Lewiston-Porter Board of Education and School Superintendent R. Christopher Roser have maintained programming and even added a position in the coming year.
Roser has been advocating for a full-time athletic director for the past year and a half, remarking that the needs of such an individual go beyond what the current teacher/athletic director can do. Because the current athletic director is also a teacher and part of the teachers union, he is unable to evaluate coaches and make some administrative decisions. In an effort to answer several needs, the new athletic director will also serve as dean of students at Lewiston-Porter Middle School.
"We need someone who can assist sixth-graders making the transition into their new environment," said Roser. "This person will also handle discipline issues, which are more similar to high school than elementary, and work with other children's issues and student topics. I want this person to focus on students and also do the AD job."
Roser showed the board that the resources spent currently on having a teacher with reduced classroom responsibilities serve as athletic director would be better used for this new combined position, along with some resources from a retirement.
In addition the district will also hire a director of curriculum and instruction. When Roser joined the district the position was vacated, as that individual took another position and Roser made a decision not to fill it. In reviewing the situation during the past two years and taking into account the required assessments and need for someone to monitor curriculum development, Roser reversed that decision and asked that the position be reinstated.
Race for the Top
"With the Race for the Top program, it is more important than ever for schools to better articulate curriculum and be able to make sure instructors are teaching to the standards. To stay on top of all this, a director of curriculum and instruction is really needed," said Roser.
New York state looks to be a finalist in the federally funded Race for the Top program.
In addition to curriculum and instruction, the person in this position also will be the chief information officer.
Prior to this, Roser has been doing much of the work and also parceling it out to other personnel.
While there are no new programs scheduled for fall, Lewiston-Porter will be hiring a new Junior ROTC instructor and the Niagara Falls YMCA will handle the universal Pre-K program.
"Parents will see no change in the program," said Roser. "It's basically an administrative move. The employees will be Y employees, but programmatically there is no change."
"Students will receive what parents expect them to," said Roser. "We will work very closely with the Y."
Other than that, Roser explained that there's been a lot of shuffling of teachers in order to fill positions vacated by retirements and to not lose any positions. Many of the moves were from the elementary to the middle school. There were nine retirees.
Final phase - that's the word on the construction projects at Lew-Port. The baseball dugouts were just installed and a new scoreboard will be erected in September. There have also been minor repairs, as they were needed.
"We're down to the last funding of the project that we held on to in order to make any necessary repairs," said Roser. "During the next year, we (the Lew-Port Board) are going to take time and look at the facility again and see what needs to be done before considering another capital project."
The board will also be working on a five-year plan for the state, which will look at the school district's accomplishments, its current programs and where Lew-Port wants to go in the next five years.
"It's really a plan for future boards," said Roser. "We need to evaluate where we are and where we want to go. We didn't do a lot at the high school and there are some major needs."
Speaking of boards, in the past there's always seemed to be something going on relative to the actions of the L-P Board of Education. However, this board is working together for a common cause, to provide a quality education while maintaining costs, Roser suggested.
"The boards, and I mean all of them, have treated me very well," said Roser. "We're still working on the trust factor; I feel there is a lot there, and we have a very good working relationship. I sometimes feel I should have done something differently or presented it better."
"Budget-wise, they are united in looking at me to find ways to save money, and I don't think I've let them down," he said. "They take their role seriously and want to make a positive difference."
"So much good is happening here, and we need to focus on that. Our kids are doing amazing things," he concluded. "It's so rewarding to see what they have accomplished. It's one of the fun things about being in education."
"The teachers, students and the community have a great relationship," he said. "It's important that our kids achieve at a high level, and this relationship will keep us at that high level."