Superintendent's Corner - February 2017

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

February 2017

Mid-Year Update

As we approach the midpoint of the school year, I want to provide several updates regarding what we have going on in the district.  This edition of Superintendent’s Corner contains news on district achievements, budget development, state assessments, district goals, and updates on the traffic study that was conducted earlier this school year. 


Cairo-Durham Central School District named to AP District Honor Roll

We are thrilled to announce that the College Board named Cairo-Durham Central School District to the AP® District Honor Roll, a distinction shared by 433 school districts across the United States and Canada.

The AP District Honor Roll recognizes school districts in the U.S. and Canada that achieved increases in access to Advanced Placement® (AP) courses for a broader number of students, while simultaneously maintaining or improving the rate at which their AP students earned scores of 3 or high on an AP exam.

Of the 433 school districts, 25 districts in New York State received this distinction and Cairo-Durham CSD is one of only two districts in the Capital Region to make the list.  National data from 2016 show that approximately 50% of underrepresented students with a high degree of readiness for AP are participating in the program.  Furthermore, Cairo-Durham is the only AP District Honor Roll recipient in New York State to have a 30% or greater enrollment of students who qualify for free/reduced lunch.

This is a testament to our belief that our students are capable of great things if we continue to challenge them.  We want to ensure that their experiences here at Cairo-Durham translate to success at the next level.  We are very proud of this accomplishment.

As an AP District Honor Roll recipient, we are committed to expanding the availability of AP courses among prepared and motivated students of all backgrounds.  Congratulations to the AP teachers and students at Cairo-Durham CSD for their outstanding achievements. 


Budget Development - Request for Community Input

As we begin to develop our spending plan for the 2017-2018 school year, we are looking for input from the community to assist in establishing budget priorities.  Please take a minute to let us know your ideas, suggestions, questions and/or concerns related to the budget development using this Google Form.  (This input survey is anonymous, although you may include your name and contact information if you would like the district to follow up with you regarding your response.)

Our aim is to develop the annual budget with the best interests of our students in mind, and we greatly appreciate the input from our community. 


State Assessments

As many of you know, last year marked significant changes to the ways state assessments are developed and administered.  The changes that were made, which took effect in 2016 and will continue this year, are highlighted below:

Changes for 2015-16 School Year and Beyond

 Fewer Questions:

  • Based on feedback, the assessments will have a decreased number of test questions on both the 2016 Grades 3-8 ELA and Mathematics Tests. On each of the 2016 Grades 3-8 ELA Tests, students will read one less passage and answer fewer questions.  The 3-8 Mathematics Tests will also have fewer questions to answer.

 Untimed Testing:

 The 2016 ELA and Mathematics tests will be untimed.

  • As long as students are productively working they will be allowed as much time as they need to complete the ELA and Mathematics tests.
  • This change will provide students further opportunity to demonstrate what they know and can do by allowing them to work at their own pace.

 Teacher Evaluation:

  • Teacher Evaluation scores will not be impacted by student performance on 3-8 ELA and Math assessments through the 2018-2019 school year.

Additional Benefits

 Greater Teacher Involvement:

  • Specifically, beginning in fall 2015 and going forward, a greater number of New York State educators have been and will continue to be involved in the review of test questions and final test forms than ever before. This increase has already—and will continue to—greatly benefit the quality of these assessments.

 Test Vendor:

  • NYSED has ended its contract with Pearson and is transitioning towards a new partnership with Questar Assessment, Inc.  Questar will support the department with the changes described above and other changes to the Grade 3-8 ELA and Mathematics tests.


District Goals Quarterly Update

As explained in the first update of this school year, our 2017-2018 District Goals are concentrated in the same five areas as the 2016-2017 District Goals: 

  • Increasing graduation rates
  • Increasing  proficiency and mastery rates
  • Decreasing course failures
  • Improving reading levels
  • Improving attendance  

By maintaining the same five targets, we can establish consistency around our goals in order to make sure that they are known and understood by all stakeholders.  This will help ensure that we are all working together to effectively achieve our targets.

  • Graduation Rate Goal - By June 2017, we will increase our 4-year graduation rate by 3% (from 82% to 85%).
  • Proficiency/Mastery Goal - By June 2017, we will increase the percentage of students who are achieving proficiency by 4% in grades 3-8 and mastery on Regents Exams by 4%.
  • Course Pass Rate Goal - By June 2017, we will decrease the percentage of students who failed one or more courses by at least 8% (as measured at each interim and quarter compared to the previous year).
  • Reading Level Goal - By June 2017, we will increase the percentage of students who are reading at or above grade level at each grade level by 4%.
  • Attendance Goal - By June 2017, we will increase the percentage of students who are present for at least 160 days of school by 4%.

Here is a snapshot of our progress toward meeting these targets (PDF) for the 2017-2018 school year:  

Cairo-Durham CSD 2016-17 District Goals - Quarter 1 Summary


To see a larger version of the above District Goals summary, click here to download the PDF


Traffic Study Results

On December 5, 2016, I attended a meeting at the New York State Department of Transportation to discuss the results of the most recent traffic study that was conducted at the entrance to the middle/high school campus in September 2016.  

In order for NYSDOT to install a traffic light, the state outlines specific criteria that must be met in order for the traffic light to be warranted.  Unfortunately, the state determined that the intersection did not meet the necessary criteria and that the circumstances do not support the installation of a traffic signal at this location.  In light of the state’s ruling, the district is exploring other potential solutions to make the intersection safer.

On December 20, 2016, district representatives met with local law enforcement and legislators, including Harry Lennon, William Lawrence, and Kevin Lewis, to discuss local measures that could be taken in the absences of state action.  Suggestions of local action include (but are not limited to):

  • Increased presence of state and local law enforcement on Route 145
  • Driver education to encourage safe driving (e.g., public service announcements, traffic safety presentations, traffic safety pamphlet)

The ideas listed above are a sample of what the district is looking into.  If you have additional suggestions or if you would like to help, please call the district office at 518-622-8534 or email your suggestions to


Water Testing

As has been previously reported, we conducted water testing at both the elementary school and at the middle/high school campus.  Of the 191 water samples taken throughout the district, there were a total of 10 that required action as a result of lead levels above the allowable standard.  Although most of these locations are not typically used for water consumption, they were immediately taken offline so that they could be remediated.  

After repairs were made, follow-up testing was conducted at all of the affected water outlets.  We are happy to report that follow-up testing showed that all locations tested successfully and all recorded lead levels were well below required thresholds.  Copies of both the initial testing reports as well as the follow-up tests have been posted to our website under “Water Testing.”


Distinguished Service Award & Mustang Excellence Award

Last year, the Board of Education established the Distinguished Service Award and the Mustang Excellence Award to show appreciation for community members and students who have worked to support education in the Cairo-Durham Central School Community.  As we enter the second year of these annual awards, we are seeking nominations for 2017 recipients.  

Do you know an organization or individual who should be publicly recognized for their efforts?  Use this Google Form to submit your nomination(s) for an exceptional individual, group or business (Distinguished Service Award), or an extraordinary student (Mustang Excellence Award).

Recipients of the awards will be honored at a ceremony in the spring.


Looking Ahead

The first half of the 2016-2017 school year has been successful and we have already accomplished many things.  As usual, there are still many things to be accomplished.  We will continue to work toward our 2017-2018 District Goals and develop a sound budget for the 2017-2018 school year that enables us to continue providing a quality education by well-trained staff.

If you have questions about anything you read in this update, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 518-622-8534, ext. 25010 or send an email to


(Note: 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).


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