Board of Education Hears BOCES Bond Proposal

On Tuesday, May 29, the Pawling Central School District Board of Education convened for a business meeting at Pawling Middle School. The meeting provided the Board with an Elementary Curriculum update from several district teachers, as well as a presentation that would outline a $36.8 million bond proposal by Dutchess BOCES.

The Board heard a presentation from PCSD elementary curriculum leaders Janine Garrison, Sally McGrath, Betty Nagasing, Diane O’Brien, and Ellen Ramey. The instructors outlined goals for the present and upcoming 2018 – 2019 school years, which include the continued development and implementation of an innovative written K-12 curriculum in keeping with New York State Learning Standards. Curriculum goals provide support for all students, including multi-lingual learners and students with disabilities. The district will continue the successful implementation of Project Lead the Way, and focus curriculum development efforts in the areas of literacy, numeracy, and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics).

To demonstrate some of the skills acquired by the elementary students this past year, instructors invited members of the Board of Education to experience how third-grade students and partake in a math exercise called “The Big Pad.” This lesson involves deducing how many Post-it notes could fit on a large pad by using multiplication, fractions, and critical thinking. Instructors also presented aspects of the fourth grade science curriculum, with lessons designed to meet Next Generation Science Standards. Units entitled “Stayin’ Alive,” “Making Waves,” Storytelling Rocks!” and “Is It Fuelish or Foolish?” encourage students to think critically to bridge the gap between the concepts of science and their real world applications. An example of these techniques was presented in the form of an exercise that asked students to invent a shark that uses its structural and behavioral adaptations to survive in its environment, and then construct and argument about how that shark would use its abilities to survive.

The elementary curriculum represents several shifts in standards with an emphasis on critical 21st century skills. Students will be tasked with ownership of their learning experience, with an emphasis on collaboration and teamwork, creativity, critical thinking, and problem posing and solving. In support of these ideas, teachers use English Language Arts (ELA) coaching cycles and technology, and have made good use of Superintendent’s Conference Days for curriculum writing and analysis.

Next, the Board heard a presentation from Dr. Sherre Wesley of Dutchess BOCES. Dr. Wesley presented details of a $36.8 million bond proposal that would enable BOCES to consolidate all K-12 programs on the Salt Point Campus in Poughkeepsie. For the past twenty-eight years, the program has made use of rental space for its alternative high school. Reasons for the Salt Point Campus proposal include rising rental costs and inadequacies of current facilities and infrastructure, which lack a proper gymnasium and cafeteria space. There are also growing concerns about security and safety; a consolidation of all programs at the Salt Point campus would allow for improved and more efficient security measures to be implemented. Dutchess BOCES will be approaching all thirteen districts in the county, and the project will be put up for a public vote in December.

When calculating the Pawling Central School District’s share of this proposed inter-municipal agreement, BOCES officials used a Resident Weighted Average Daily Attendance (RWADA) to arrive at the percentage of students from the district attending programs. With a RWADA of 1,272, or 3.02% of students, Pawling’s gross share of the total cost would be $1,111,360. District officials will take the proposal under advisement, and will likely arrive at a decision regarding financing for the project in July. The public vote in December will determine if the project is to move forward.

The next Board of Education meeting will be held on Monday, June 18, at 7:30 p.m. at the Pawling Middle School.