District not backing off Common Core Learning Standards
by Kathleen Duff
At its regular meeting Monday evening at Veronica E. Connor Middle School, the Grand Island Board of Education received an update from Campus Construction Management on the district's extensive capital project. Project manager Kevin Donaghue said that progress is being made, as evidenced by the raising of structural steel for the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) addition to Grand Island High School. Work on this new building is on schedule and is expected to be completed Aug. 1, 2014. High school science labs should be completed next month, and demolition of the district's long-standing athletic complex at the back of the Ransom Road property is done.
Joe Giarrizzo, assistant superintendent of school business services, added that the district accepted electrical bids for the project last week. Soon after, all were rejected because two bids came in at the same dollar amount. They will be sent out for rebid. He added that the Board of Education will hold its December meeting in the newly completed professional development suite in the high school.
Regarding the project budget, Giarrizzo said that the project is "$3-4 million ahead of the game; so the board needs to decide how to expand the scope" of the project. This would involve the board looking at the original details of the entire capital project as set forth in 2011 and deciding which project items, originally excluded, could now be pursued.
In other business, the board voted down (3-3) on extending the 486-b Real Property Tax Exemption for businesses and industries coming to or expanding on Grand Island. The exemption had previously allowed a tax break for businesses for a three-year period, and the board had considered cutting the term just one year. Renewal of the exemption has been a continuing topic of discussion between the Grand Island Town Board and school trustees and administrators, with those in favor of it, including Town Supervisor Mary Cooke, saying that the tax exemption could be attractive to businesses thinking of coming to Grand Island. The last two businesses to take advantage of it were Anchor Marine in its expansion and Parkland Enterprises with its Grand Island Market on Ransom Road.
Regarding curriculum and instruction, Assistant Superintendent Karen Cuddy-Miller spoke about changes in the elementary school report card. The new version lines up more closely with the New York State Common Core Learning Standards. Cuddy-Miller encourages parents to attend a presentation on report cards on Monday, Dec. 9, from 6 to 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium and to read about the changes on the district website: www.k12.ginet.org.
In her report to the board, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Teresa Lawrence said that Grand Island is "not backing off the Common Core" and looks to help students become "college and career ready" and also "citizenship ready."
In an unrelated matter, Lawrence said that an ad hoc committee has been formed to solicit and review suggestions for naming district buildings (e.g. the new athletic complex). She also told trustees that four teachers from China would be in schools doing observations throughout Thanksgiving week.
Lastly, after reviewing letters of interest from the community, the superintendent and trustees will be interviewing three individuals for the board seat left vacant by the passing of Joan Droit.