Superintendent's Corner - September 2016

A message from Mr. Anthony Taibi, Superintendent of Cairo-Durham Central School District

September 2016


Welcome Back!

We are very excited to welcome back all of our staff and students for the 2016-2017 school year.  As we close the first week of the school year, the excitement and enthusiasm that is apparent within our schools reaffirms our mission to provide the very best educational opportunities for our students.  A special thank you to our PTA for the purchase and distribution of all of our student supplies.  We are off to a great start!

I also wanted to share several updates on topics such as the capital project, a new free meal program for all K-12 students, student registration, a traffic study at the entrance to Cairo-Durham Middle/High School, and a review of our district goals. 


Capital Project

Phase 2 of our capital project is well underway, however there are some aspects of the project that have not yet been awarded.  This is due to several different circumstances, starting with the amount of time that our project was awaiting approval from the New York State Education Department (SED).  Phase 2 of our project took upwards of 45 weeks to be fully approved by SED, with final approval not occurring until the first week in June 2016.  This is obviously less than ideal when putting a project out to bid for summer 2016 work.  

In addition, due to the logjam of projects that were approved by SED all at once, CDCSD was not the only school district putting its project out to bid in June (when most contractors already have their summer work planned).  The bids that did come in were not in line with our project budget, leaving the district with the decision to either scale the project back or rebid the project.  The district opted to rebid the project, ensuring that every effort is made to stay within budget and complete all of the work outlined in the original scope of work.  


Water Testing

Over the summer, the District proactively decided to conduct water sampling due to regional and national concerns over the quality of drinking water in schools.  We are very proud that Cairo-Durham CSD has taken these actions before they were mandated by state law.  (Until recently, schools in New York State were not required to test their drinking water for lead contamination, however we voluntarily took this proactive step earlier this year in the interest of our students and to ensure the safety of our drinking water.  Recent water testing legislation signed into law by Governor Cuomo on September 6, 2016 now requires school districts to test their drinking water for lead contamination, meaning that Cairo-Durham CSD is ahead of many districts across the state.)

We tested samples from all of the priority drinking water locations at each school building throughout the district (i.e., water fountains, kitchen faucets, cafeterias, and nurse’s office faucets).  Below is a discussion of the results from testing that occurred over the summer.

There are two thresholds that exist for lead in drinking water.  When testing public water systems (as opposed to individual buildings), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states action is required if lead levels reach 15 parts per billion (ppb) of lead in drinking water.  When testing drinking water in individual buildings such as schools, the EPA guidelines maintain that water consumption outlets (e.g., fountains) must be taken out of service if lead levels exceed 20 ppb (see 3T's for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools for more information).

All of the water samples except one came back well below these thresholds, therefore only a single location required action.  The faucet in the Elementary School Nurse's Office came back at 16 ppb, which is slightly above the EPA guideline for public water supplies but below the guideline for school buildings.  Despite lead traces below the EPA guideline for schools, this faucet was immediately turned off.  After consultation with our emergency management company, Needham Risk Management, the source of contamination was determined to be a pipe leading to the faucet in the Elementary School Nurse’s Office.  Over the summer the piping leading to this faucet was replaced.  Water at this location was retested and came back at 7 ppb, which is well below the action level for the presence of lead in drinking water. 


CEP Program

We are very excited about the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) that is being implemented at Cairo-Durham CSD during the 2016-2017 school year.  CEP is a federal program that provides free breakfast and lunch to all students at qualifying school districts, regardless of income.  All students at CDCSD (K-12) will be provided free breakfast and lunch (CEP is replacing the Free and Reduced Lunch Program at CDCSD for the 2016-2017 school year).  Learn more here.


Central Registration

Effective for the 2016-2017 school year, we will be implementing a Central Registrar to help streamline the student registration process.  Currently, when parents register students, they are doing so in each of the individual buildings that their children will be attending, sometimes in two or even three buildings.  This often leads to variation in process and inconsistencies in terms of access to both transportation and student support services.

Central Registration provides convenient services for families in one location and ​will​ ​better serve families’ needs.  The center​ ​approach will​ ​include Central Registration, Transportation, Special Education and Pupil Personnel Services offices under one roof.       

By moving to a centralized registration process, we can ensure the process is streamlined and that access exists for student support services as well as arranging transportation.  Centralized registration will also provide us an opportunity to conduct an "intake" of sorts to ensure that appropriate supports and services are provided to the students and families upon their arrival.  Additionally, by utilizing a reading specialist we can also attain current academic reading level in order to ensure appropriate placements.


Traffic Study/Community Forum

In May 2016, Cairo-Durham CSD contacted the New York Department of Transportation (NYDOT) and various government officials to request the installation of a traffic signal at the entrance to Cairo-Durham Middle/High School on Route 145 (the school district’s previous request in 2011 was denied).

In July 2016, we received notice from the NYDOT that it would be reopening the traffic study at the entrance to Cairo-Durham Middle/High School.  Starting in September, traffic density meters will be installed to measure traffic to and from the middle/high school campus.  

We have also been in communication with Senator George Amedore regarding a community forum to discuss this very important community issue.  This process will be ongoing as the district and local elected officials work together to make change happen.  We will provide more information about the community forum as we move forward.


District Goals 2016-2017

Before the 2015-2016 school year, we set some pretty ambitious goals around improving attendance, decreasing course failures, improving reading levels, increasing proficiency and mastery rates, and graduation rates.  For the most part, we met or exceeded our goals.  More importantly, throughout the way, we learned a great deal about how to effectively track and use data to guide instruction in the classroom.  

For 2016-17, our goals remain the same, however we have adjusted our targets.  These are the key areas to continue measuring as we work towards school and district improvement.

Click here to view a summary of our 2015-2016 District Goal results, as well as the next steps for the 2016-2017 school year (in order to download PDFs, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not have Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can download it for free at Adobe's Website).