by Kathleen Duff
During the Monday evening meeting of the Grand Island Board of Education, trustees heard reports on a variety of topics, including some important staffing changes. Dr. Andrés Arroyo is leaving his position as assistant principal of Grand Island High School to become principal at Newfane High School. Arroyo has served Grand Island for the past seven years and earned his Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
His resignation comes close behind that of Assistant Principal Michael Lauria, who left his job earlier this summer to become principal at Springville High School. Administrators acted quickly to search for and to hire replacements for Arroyo and Lauria, and high school Principal Dan Quartley introduced the new staff to the Board of Education at Monday's meeting. They are T. Michael Carter and Corey Gray.
Capital Project Update
Regarding the district's extensive capital improvement project, construction crews are working in and around all school buildings this summer to complete phases of the project, which are to be "turned over" to district by end of summer. Vaughn Maracle of Campus Construction Management reported that work at Huth Road School is going forward "with no problems" as crews finish the library/media center and main office/entrance by Aug. 25. The clinic and main office at Charlotte Sidway School also will be ready by the end of the month, although some "field conditions" involving asbestos surprised workers. Maracle expects those issues to be resolved shortly and said that Sidway is "all in all in good shape" for the start of the school year.
Kaegebein School has presented the most challenges this summer with the discovery of a heaved slab in the area of the new library media center. Campus Management, Kaegebein Principal Mary Haggerty and teachers will work to arrive at a temporary solution for the space, as it will not be ready for student use by the start of the school year. The main office and auditorium renovations will be "substantially complete" by Sept. 1, and the new addition is on track for April 2015.
At the Ransom Road complex, Maracle anticipates the front parking lots and drop-off areas to be finished on time Aug. 27. At the back of the property, the new athletic complex is mostly done, but the actual athletic track surface may not be finished until around Sept. 12. Maracle attributed the delay to an area shortage of stone, asphalt, concrete and truck availability. He indicated that the number of large construction projects all over Western New York is causing delays in materials and equipment.
Community Survey Results
In other news, Director of Pupil Personnel Cheryl Cardone presented the results of a community survey, which keyed in on how well the district communicates with parents and the community in general. Among positive and negative feedback on a wide range of topics, survey participants lauded the accessibility of building principals and the information conveyed to parents on email blasts and through the parent portal. Areas of concern appear to be bullying, especially cyberbullying and other out-of-school methods, and also cultural diversity. Parents indicated that while there is cultural diversity on Grand Island, schools in general appear not to notice the impact it makes in the schools and in the larger community. Cardone indicated that there would be further analysis of survey results and attention paid to areas that need improvement.
School Resource Officer
Trustees also heard a joint presentation by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Teresa Lawrence and School Resource Officer Chris Pyc. Outlining the history of how Grand Island came to have an SRO, Lawrence said that in 2002, Grand Island became one of five Western New York school districts to receive grant monies to fund SROs. In 2010, the New York State Police cut funding, but additional funds were obtained in 2012 to allow Pyc to be a presence in Grand Island Schools two to three days a week, depending on his road patrol duties.
Among the duties of an SRO are liaison between school and community, classroom presentations, criminal investigations, and informing the superintendent of areas of concern with the schools. The SRO is "not a security guard," Lawrence indicated but an armed and uniformed law enforcement officer. Pyc said he saw his job as being one of fostering positive relationships in the student body and helping people realize that it is a "dangerous thought process" that crime cannot happen on Grand Island or in the schools. Lawrence wants to work toward getting Pyc in the schools more hours each week.
In other business, the board approved a change in the 2014-15 tax levy - a decrease to $19,601,295. Also, the elementary schools now have two staff social workers. Cardone wants to work toward a better crisis counseling and a district family resource center.
In "Good News," high school science teacher Rob Collard received an honorarium in the amount of $2,500 from the University of Rochester. The monies from the Singer Award will go to buying science supplies. The district also received a donation of treadmills, stationary bikes and ellipticals from the Buffalo Athletic Club.