Our School Community Responds to Reopening Question

What concerns, questions or ideas should we consider when planning to reopen schools? 

That’s the question I asked of our school community last week. Thank you to the 247 people who took the time to respond, share comments and then rate the thoughts of other members of our community. You can read the full report here. 

Please note the survey questions as well. 58% of our survey participants said that they are extremely or relatively comfortable sending their children back to school if the health orders allow it, while 30% are hesitant and concerned and 8% are extremely uncomfortable or will not send their child to school without a vaccine.

Would our survey participants prefer online distance learning or socially distanced in-person learning? 86% prefer to have our students return to us. And last, I asked how satisfied our community is with our communication and response. 67% are somewhat or very satisfied, 13% are neutral and 20% are somewhat or very unsatisfied.

The top thoughts report is accessible in the link in the report. Please know that we will carefully consider all 258 thoughts that were shared in the exchange. Many of the thoughts expressed are shared by our leadership teams–our school administrators and BOE members.

What are we doing to prepare for the new school year? We’re participating on an Erie 2 regional reopening workgroup that brings together educators from across our WNY school districts. We’re awaiting guidance from NYSED and the Governor. Most important, we’re planning a Springville Reopening Committee to consider the guidance from the Erie 2 workgroup and NYSED. We will develop our own plan for Springville. If you’re a parent or student in our district and you’re interested in participating on our SGI Reopening Committee, please email me at kmoritz@springvillegi.org.

As things have changed rapidly throughout this closure, our team of educators have responded to every new challenge with agility and the needs of our students foremost on our minds. We will continue to do so through the remainder of this trying time. Thank you all for sharing your thoughts with me.

Partial Roof Collapse at the Old Administration Building

On July 4, 2019, significant rainfall in the late afternoon led to the partial collapse of the roof in the future CAM P-TECH Academy building that’s currently under construction. Thank you to the local fire department volunteers who came to ensure that the site was safe and secure, including notification to me and the full shut off of the gas and electric. I’m also grateful to the network we have as local school administrators so that Pioneer principal Mark Schultz first notified me via Twitter. The best news of the event is that it occurred on the July 4th holiday and therefore no one was in the building, ensuring that we had no injuries.

I am lucky to have Director of Facilities Dave Seiflein and  School Business Administrator Maureen Lee on our leadership team. Both immediately drove to the District to attend to the problem, as I was out of town in Pennsylvania.

This morning, I met with our architect from Gordon Jones, Jeff Nunn, and our construction management firm, Campus Construction Management, to assess the damage and to begin to develop a plan moving forward. CEO Mike Shevlin of Concept Construction Corporation, our general contractor on the job, was on site last night and focused immediately on our next steps to repair the roof and keep the construction project moving forward. The roof on the old District Office building was new and repairing this roof and remediating this problem will not be done at school district or taxpayer expense. 

We have a tight timeline with a need to open the Academy for students and staff in September 2020. I am confident that our team, under the watchful eye of Campus Construction Management Group, will work hard to get us there. A special thank you to local district resident and Campus Field Manager Michael Perkins for rushing to the work site yesterday afternoon and to Campus Vice President Kevin Donaghue for joining us this morning to manage this problem. As a school superintendent, I wouldn’t consider working through a capital project without Campus Construction Management.

The School Drop-Off Line

If you watch the movie “Daddy’s Home” with Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell, you’ll catch a scene in which Mark Wahlberg cracks under the pressure while driving within the cones that designate the school drop off and pick up line at the elementary school his children attend. Springville parents will definitely relate! Controlling traffic during these times must be a widespread challenge for schools, as reflected in “Daddy’s Home” and on the blog Scary Mommy where Christina Antus writes The Hell that is the School Drop-Off Line.  Even the Today Show has covered the issue in The 7 rules parents must not break in the school drop-off line. If you google “school drop-off line” you’ll find 13,600,000 results. Wow!

I promise you we did not make changes to the pick up and drop off location at SMS to torture or inconvenience our parents. The changes were made strictly for student safety, always our #1 priority. And remember, while we respect the parent decision to drop off and pick up students–we do also provide free transportation to and from school on that BIG YELLOW BUS.

Previously we had staff, parent and bus traffic all flowing through the same parking lot at the same time. Our students were dropped off by parents and then were crossing between the cars and buses. SMS Principal Shanda DuClon developed a plan which moves parent drop off and pick up to the District Office parking lot with a short walk for our students down the sidewalk.

The morning drop off seems to run smoothly, parents pull in and drop off their student then quickly proceed out of the parking loop. In the afternoon, pick up would run much more smoothly if the first parents who pull into the loop at the District Office would pull all the way around, with the others following. Now, the first parent to arrive often stops at the precise spot where the sidewalk to the middle school begins and we end up with cars lined up onto Newman Street. If all of our parents would pull in and make one line with the first car pulling all the way around to the exit of this loop (so that the back of SES is on your right), there would be plenty of room for all of the cars picking up students. More important, then our students could stay on the sidewalk as they head to their parent’s cars.

Thank you for working with us on this issue! While we realize it may be less convenient, it is safer for our students than walking through the bus traffic that’s there to transport all of our students.

Capital Project: Highlights of Proposed Work

The capital project’s scope of work addresses needs in five key areas:
1) Building Conditions Survey & Code related items required by NYS,
2) building exterior & roofing,
3) mechanical/electrical/plumbing,
4) site work, and
5) academic programming needs.

The outline below provides a brief overview of the major work items planned at each building.

High School $8,936,300
• Pavement reconstruction and sidewalk replacement
• Resurface and expand existing track
• Replace overhead electrical lines with underground
• Improve handicap accessibility at toilet rooms
• Asbestos abatement
• Refinish gym floor
• Masonry restoration
• Replace existing pool roof
• Replace original steam boilers with new,
• more energy-efficient boilers
• Replace miscellaneous electrical panels
• Replace overhead stage rigging
• Renovate basement locker room
• Replace non-code compliant press box and structure
• Concession stand upgrades
• Greenhouse improvements

Middle School $9,984,300
• Replace 14 heating / ventilating units
• Install new handicap-accessible Nurse’s toilet
• Kitchen ventilation
• Upgrade / replace water services
• Replace all corridor lockers
• Asbestos abatement
• Corridor flooring replacement
• Replace entire roof

Colden Elementary $1,628,200
• Pavement reconstruction and sidewalk replacement
• Kitchen hood and piping replacement
• Asbestos abatement
• Replace all carpet with new vinyl flooring
• Roofing repairs
• New fire alarm system

Springville Elementary $6,847,500
• Pavement reconstruction and sidewalk replacement
• Replace deteriorated site lighting with energy-efficient
• LED lighting
• Repave primary and intermediate playgrounds
• Replace vinyl asbestos flooring with new vinyl flooring
• Refinish gym and stage wood floors
• Partial roof replacement
• Masonry restoration
• New energy-efficient classroom ventilators and casework
• Replace original boilers with more energy-efficient boilers
• Replace gymnasium and cafeteria ceiling and lighting

District Offices $398,700
• Roof replacement
• Upgrade toilet rooms for handicapped accessibility

Capital Project Announcement

On Tuesday, September 27, 2016 residents of Springville – Griffith Institute Central School District are being asked to vote on a revised capital project referendum. Based on feedback received from voters in December and in recent community input meetings, the District has reviewed the facilities needs identified in the Five-Year Capital Facilities Plan that is required by New York State. To lessen the impact on local taxpayers, the newly revised capital project will have a reduced scope that focuses on the most critical health, safety, accessibility and code compliance issues at each of our District buildings.

Please mark your calendar with the following dates:

When: Tuesday, September 20, 7pm
Where: Springville-GI High School, Library Media Center

When: Thursday September 22, 12pm – 8pm
Where: Polling District #1: Collins Center Fire Hall
Polling District #2: Colden Elementary School
Polling District #3: Springville-GI High School, Main Lobby

When: Tuesday, September 27, 10am – 9pm
Where: Polling District #1: Collins Center Fire Hall
Polling District #2: Colden Elementary School
Polling District #3: Springville-GI High School, Main Lobby

In the coming days, I will have a series of articles with further details. All information presented is also in The Bulletin, our District Newsletter, on pages 9-12. The Bulletin was mailed to residents’ homes on August 31, 2016.

Capital Project Vote Results

Thank you to the many district residents who came to our school yesterday to cast your vote on the two propositions for capital project improvements! The results are as follows:

Randolph Central School,Capital Project Vote Results 3/24/15

PROPOSITION #1, District-wide Capital Improvements Project, 2015 Passed

Yes __351____No __320____

PROPOSITION #2, Athletic Facilities Improvements Project, 2015 Failed

Yes _239_____No _438_____

_687__ voters

We will now devote ourselves to developing the details of our proposition #1 parking lot improvements and our submission for approval of the project to New York State Education. I appreciate all of the thoughtful input from our community members and employees and will work hard with our dedicated BOE members, Campus Construction Management, and CannonDesign to get the very best value for the $7,050,545 approved by the voters.


Randolph Central Conducting Census

What a beautiful summer day here at Randolph Central!

We will be conducting a census this summer of all children from birth to 18 years of age who are living within the district. It is critical that we collect the most accurate data possible as it relates to our families. Beginning on July 22, 2014, census workers will be visiting households throughout the district for this reason. We are especially interested in learning about our District children ages Pre-Birth to school age. This will greatly assist us in our planning for the future, including any building projects we may consider, for determining our personnel needs, and for future purchases. This is a way for us to best plan our use of our revenues, including taxpayer monies through the tax levy each year. We have also asked our census workers to try to determine what kind of internet access our residents have in their homes so that we can plan for our technology purchases. There will be a few questions related to internet access. And finally, the census workers will also be able to help any parents who ask with forms like the free and reduced lunch federal form.

Thank you for your assistance and cooperation in completing this very important census. Anyone with questions or concerns can reach me, Superintendent Kimberly Moritz, at 358-7005.

GED or RCS Diploma?

I’ve recently had some discussion regarding the differences in an RCS Diploma awarded at our Commencement Exercises at the end of June each year and a GED. Here are the diploma requirements for a NYS HS Diploma. Our goal for every Randolph student is to help him or her to become career or college ready by graduating from our school. This goal is also one by which we are measured in NYS accountability by graduation rate. A student who attends a GED program or obtains a GED after dropping out is the same in the view of these accountability measures–the student counts as a drop out from our school.

In a very limited manner, there are those students who through the Committee on Special Education are determined to have as part of their Individualized Education Plan the IEP Diploma. This diploma is explained on the NYSED website here.

We want every RCS child to be successful beyond their high school experience. We also hold graduation from RCS as a primary goal for every child. While a GED is a viable option for adults  and for those students who are beyond the maximum compulsory school attendance age, it is not part of the mission and purpose of a public school system. The express purpose of a graduation/commencement exercise is to recognize those students who have completed the diploma requirements for an RCS Diploma.

Capital Project Planning

Last summer, our Board of Education members set a goal to analyze our buildings and grounds and to prepare a capital project for a vote within 18 months. That puts a potential vote to our taxpayers in December 2014. Over the course of my career I’ve been involved in capital projects at least five times, but this is my first experience with a project from the planning stages forward. It’s extremely exciting to consider how we can improve our facilities to better meet the needs of our students!

It’s interesting to watch the interaction and the thinking of a large group of people. Some come to the Facilities Committee with a special interest in adding something to our district that’s lacking while others want to make sure we’re caring for and maintaining what we have now. The BOE members have all expressed an interest in being good stewards of our facilities and grounds at the same time that they think about how to do so while keeping a project cost neutral for the taxpayers. There are items we have to consider as a result of our NYSED mandated building conditions survey. Things like boilers and a roof on the gym and repointing bricks aren’t as glamorous or as potentially controversial as a discussion on a school pool or a new soccer field but they are necessary.

What’s my interest in the project as the school superintendent? I’ve been saying for six years that I want to leave my mark on Randolph Central School District through a stronger instructional program–I’m an instructional leader first and foremost. But caring for our properties and planning for the future are also my responsibility. So I’m most interested in taking care of the mainstays, the workhorses of our buildings–things like boilers and rooftops. I also want to consider our learning spaces–how are they designed now (not much different than they were 70 years ago) and what will our students need in 2020 and beyond. So I’m thinking about this as planning for potential capital projects that may occur over the rest of my career here.

Immediately, I’m also keenly interested in improving our parking lots from the standpoint of traffic flow, zones for bus movement and student travel across campus. I want to figure out how to add additional spaces for our employees and our visitors. I especially want to improve available space for the many guests who come to events here. And I want the project to include the necessary items of our school community, not something in my own personal agenda that only remains important as long as I’m here.

Tonight at our larger Facilities Committee meeting with our architects and construction manager we’ll focus on a few main areas. The committee consists of students, teachers, administrators, support staff, community members and parents. I’m excited to hear their thinking as we analyze and plan for the future. We will talk about the parking lot traffic flow, the lack of parking, the bus garage and it’s limitations without a DOT approved lift system, the high school entrance and security, the performance arts spaces, common spaces like the libraries, the playing fields and the gym space. We’ll also consider the shared classroom spaces in the elementary school that are the result of bringing almost all of our special needs students home from outside placements–and the underutilized common areas there.

Thanks in advance to everyone who spends another evening with us tonight–5:30 in the HS library and yes Austin, we’ll have cookies again.

Facebook: Caution

I’m on Facebook regularly. I love the wesbite for keeping up with my family, connecting with old friends, seeing current pictures of my niece in Virginia. We also use it as a tool at school, we have a Technology Committee FB Page, a District FB page, and lots of teacher classroom pages. Love it.

Here’s what I don’t love. Can we please remember that just because something’s posted on FB it doesn’t make it fact? On Friday night, I left our football game at half time. When I arrived at home, I logged on to FB because I knew Marla Frame would post updates of the score. (Thanks Marla!) What’s the first thing I see? ” Oh my gosh! They’re vandalizing cars in the parking lot!” along with a number of comments asking “who?” and “which cars?” and finally a post stating that it was actually a window on the school. While running back to my car to return to the district (can I just note that this would definitely NOT be typical behavior here), I texted Dave Flaherty and Mike Frame, both still at the game. Dave Flaherty, our Head Custodian who was working supervision that night, was able to assure me that it was ONE CAR, a specific and isolated incident.

And now I think . . . how is that information ever corrected? Will there be community members who are afraid to come to our games for fear of vandalism in the parking lot? I hope the good and right information circulates FB as well as the misinformation. As our communication continues to evolve and it’s so “right this second”, we have to remember to question everything and check the source. It was a good lesson for me.