by Janet Schultz
The Lewiston-Porter Central School District is ending the 2013-14 academic year on a high note with the receipt of a major grant and several faculty and students being honored Tuesday night.
The session included words of appreciation to district voters from Superintendent of Schools Christopher Roser for their support of the 2014-15 budget. Roser said he knew it was hard for the residents to vote themselves a tax increase.
"People are seeing that schools are doing well for the students," said Roser. "I'm happy the budget is through, and I am looking forward to another year."
In financial news, Lew-Port is the recipient of a $1,241,455 three-year grant that has its focus on getting students fit and showing them how to keep fit throughout their entire lives. "Get Fit Step by Step" is already underway with the awarding of the Carol M. White PEP Grant on April 15. Activities began May 1 and will continue through the 2017 academic year.
Project Director Paula Singleton explained that the project is a comprehensive, integrated physical education activity and nutrition program that allows Lew-Port to initiate, expand and improve the current physical education offerings.
"Through these programs, it is expected that students will develop an appreciation for lifelong healthy nutrition and physical education habits and make progress toward meeting the state standards for physical education," explained Singleton. "We tried three times for this grant, and the third time we made it," she continued.
Singleton went on to explain that Lew-Port would be adding equipment to each of its buildings, including age-appropriate fitness areas with state-of-the-art equipment such as treadmills, climbing walls and Sport Smart Walls. There also will be activity monitors with built-in pedometers and heart rate monitors, allowing students to be fully evaluated through an effective collection and reporting of activity data.
Professional development for faculty is also included, and a major component will be working with three community partners: the YMCA of Buffalo Niagara, Mount St. Mary's Hospital and the Town of Lewiston.
Recognitions continued, as Lewiston-Porter Board of Education President Michael Gentile and Roser recognized Beth Truax with presentation of the Phi Delta Kappa Excellence in Middle School Teaching Presidential Award. Truax is retiring at the end of this year.
The two also recognized High School Principal Paul Casseri, who was awarded the SAANYS Western New York Region 12 High School Principal of the Year Award. Lew-Port students Mariela Mulready and Finley Duerr were singled out as being the PE Central Jump Rope for Heart top fundraisers.
More than 400 students took part in the Jump Rope for Heart event on March 10. Students jumped non-stop for 30 minutes and raised $8,895 for the American Heart Association.
The board received an update on the Academy of International Business and Finance from Director Nicole Alonzo. The academy will graduate seven seniors this year and has accepted 30 freshmen into the program for next year.
The academy provides students the opportunity to study global issues in a multi-disciplinary setting as well as develop their skills in public speaking and professionalism. Included in the academy program is a 150-hour, compensated internship for students who are between their junior and senior years.
"The preparation for college is huge," said AIBF Board President Janet Schiff-DiFiore. "These students are way ahead of the game and the program gives Lew-Port students a head start to college and life."
Alonzo explained that there have been adjustments made to the academy to meet the needs of students as it has grown since its inception. Academy organizers are now looking at creating a WNY board of advisors, working with Niagara University and other WNY academies and continuing their search for internship opportunities and persons interested in becoming part of the Friends of the Academy board.
"The internship program gives students an opportunity to be part of the real world," explained Sarah DiFiore, a graduate of the program now attending the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam. "I learned how to handle stress and the insane workload I have now through this program."
The academy will hold its senior breakfast June 6 in the high school library.
In other board business:
•The board issued a statement regarding a request for a transfer of property in the Town of Porter/Wilson School District to the Lewiston-Porter School District.
"Regretfully, at this time the Lewiston-Porter Board of Education is unable to respond appropriately or meaningfully to Mrs. Deborah Parker's request to modify the Lewiston-Porter Central School District's boundaries to include a portion of the Wilson Central School District. Additional information is necessary for the Board of Education of Lewiston-Porter to consider her request; however, the Wilson Board of Education has already denied their request, short-circuiting the ability of Lewiston-Porter to further consider Mrs. Parker's request."
Gentile explained that there have been discussions among the board members of other school districts regarding the possibility of shared services or consolidation in the light of school budgets and the retirement of Roser at the end of the 2014-15 academic year. "We felt these discussions were appropriate at this time," said Gentile. "However the reception from the other districts was tepid. Districts are very territorial, but we felt we had to explore all the possibilities. We owe it to the community to explore different models in order to run more fiscally responsible." •Tenure was granted to Kelly Baio, Karen Yager and Lori Hurtgam in the area of special education. Baio and Yager were cited for their willingness to move to special education after they were among those laid off during budget cuts a year ago. Both were also certified in special ed., as well as in their respective teaching areas of the Intermediate Education Center and Middle School, providing them the opportunity to relocate.
•Approval was granted for students to travel to Istanbul, Turkey, in November and to Tianjin, China, in March.
•Approval was granted to auction off items that are no longer useful to the district. This will be handled through an online auction with a link on the district website.
•The board accepted donations from retired elementary staff members. These include school supplies that will be distributed to students in need.
•Upcoming dates to note include June 6: breakfast of champions; June 12: junior honors induction; June 13: Flag Day celebration at the PEC and IEC at 2:30 p.m.; June 25: moving up day; and June 27: high school graduation, at Artpark, 7 p.m. The next Board of Education meeting will be Tuesday, June 17, 6:30 p.m. in the Community Resource Center.