Superintendent's Corner - September 2018

Welcome Back!

Welcome back for the 2018-19 school year! We hope that all had the opportunity to enjoy the summer and we are excited for the new school year. So many in the district have been hard at work preparing for our students’ return on Thursday, September 6th.

We have a lot planned this year and a few important procedure updates that are outlined below. Please read them carefully. As always, we are looking forward to seeing our students and families again in a few weeks and working together to make it a great year.

Topics:

  • School Safety Initiatives
  • Capital Improvement Project Planning
  • Changes to Transportation Procedures
  • Changes to Attendance Policy
  • Traffic Safety Update

School Safety Initiatives

This fall, we are enhancing our school safety initiatives with the goal of ensuring students and staff feel secure while in our schools. First, we are pleased to welcome two School Resource Officers (SROs) to our campuses (as part of the approved 2018-19 budget). Deputy Steven Espel and Deputy Joanne Rivera from the Greene County Sheriff’s Department will be present in our Cairo-Durham schools five days a week during the upcoming school year. Click here to read more about how the SROs will work with staff and students to create a safe school environment.

Second, a new visitor management system will be implemented in all our school buildings. Effective September 6, 2018, each visitor will need to provide photo ID so they can be screened using our new Raptor Visitor Management System. The Raptor system checks for sex offender status and custody issues to help ensure the safety and security of our school community. The system also maintains an accurate record of every visitor who enters the school, making it easy to access and review visitor reports if needed. Starting in September, please bring a photo ID with you when visiting our schools.

changes to school visitor procedures

Lastly, the District is planning a capital improvement project that includes reconfiguring the entrances at Cairo-Durham Middle/High School so there is a single, more secure point of entry for the building. Until district residents vote on the proposed project later this year, interim measures such as those mentioned above are being implemented to ensure the safest environment for both students and staff.

More details about the proposed capital improvement project will be available this fall. Read more about the project planning below, and check our website or follow us on Facebook for info and events.

Preliminary Designs for Upcoming Capital Improvement Project

The District is planning a capital improvement project to enhance the learning environments, academic programs and facilities at Cairo-Durham Middle/High School. The project would also add enhancements at Cairo-Durham Elementary such as air conditioning, restroom upgrades and additional parking. Once the scope is finalized, district residents will be asked to vote on the proposed project.

To help with the planning process, we invited the community to participate in round-table discussions last November. We took many ideas from the first forum and integrated them into our preliminary designs. You can read the discussion summaries here. 

The preliminary designs will be on display during another community forum this fall (date to be determined). The community will be invited to view and share feedback on the preliminary designs, which were drafted by Mosaic Associates. Look for a postcard invitation that will be mailed in the coming weeks to all district residents.

We are excited about the designs drafted in collaboration with the Cairo-Durham community, and we look forward to receiving your feedback as we finalize the scope of the proposed capital improvement project.

Transportation Procedure Updates

There are a few important updates to our transportation procedures that will go into effect on September 6, 2018. Click the links below to read more about these changes:

If you have questions, please contact the Transportation Department at 518-622-2236.

Attendance Policy Changes

Regular school attendance is one of the most consistent predictors of a student’s academic success. Research has shown that students with regular attendance have higher grades, higher reading levels, higher test scores and better overall learning outcomes. Missing too much school, even during the elementary years, can significantly hurt academic performance and growth.

Missing more than 10% of the school year (18 days or more, or just two days every month) is considered “chronic absenteeism,” and it can have significant consequences for children in all grade levels. In the United States, it is estimated that 5-7 million students are chronically absent. It is clear that chronic absenteeism is a national issue, affecting school districts across the country.

Because regular attendance often leads to greater academic success and lower dropout rates, we are increasing our efforts to prevent chronic absenteeism at Cairo-Durham. Over the summer, we evaluated our recent attendance data and began developing a plan to improve student attendance. Below is our attendance data from the 2017-2018 school year as well as our targets for 2018-2019:

attendance data and targets

 

In recognition of the above facts, Cairo-Durham and other school districts throughout Greene County recently participated in discussions about the issue of school attendance. This includes the negative impacts that poor attendance and chronic absenteeism have on overall student success.

To address increasing concerns about chronic absenteeism, the Greene County Truancy Task Force was formed. The task force—which is made up of school personnel, Greene County Mental Health Center staff and support agencies, and the Greene County District Attorney’s Office—understands that attendance is extremely important to the academic growth of children and their development of positive attitudes toward school.

The result of this collaborative work is a county-wide attendance policy that was developed to address the issues of school avoidance and school truancy throughout Greene County. Cairo-Durham, along with many school districts in the region, has adopted a Comprehensive Student Attendance Policy designed to meet the following goals:

  • Set the expectation that students need to attend school every day for the full day
  • Instill cooperation among all members of the school community, inclusive of parents, students, teachers, administrators and support staff, to uphold the expectation of regular school attendance
  • Recognize that regular class participation and contact between students and teachers are essential parts of the educational process
  • Provide for the early identification of attendance problems, as well as the implementation of effective methods of intervention to reduce dropout rates and increase graduation rates
  • Identify the daily whereabouts of every student for safety and other reasons
  • Verify that individual students are complying with education laws relating to compulsory attendance
  • Calculate the District's average daily attendance for state aid and school improvement purposes

We all play a critical role in maintaining positive school attendance. Effective implementation of an attendance policy requires all participants to be informed and to understand fully its purpose, procedures, and the consequences of non-compliance. To ensure that students, parents, teachers and administrators are notified of and understand this policy, the following notifications shall take place if a student reaches a certain absence threshold during the school year:

# of Absences

Action/Notification

10-19

Official Attendance Letter Home & Administrator Contact

Creation of Attendance File

Determination of Intervention Steps

20-29

Official Attendance Letter Home & Administrator Contact

Update and Review of Attendance File

Determination of Intervention Steps

 

Copy of Attendance File sent to the District Attorney

If deemed appropriate, a copy of the student’s complete attendance file will be sent to the Greene County District Attorney for review. This is a discretionary decision determined case by case.

 

Administrator Contact

Review of case for possible educational neglect

Determination of Intervention

Copy of Attendance File sent to the District Attorney (if deemed appropriate)

30+

Official Attendance Letter Home

 

Notification of District Attorney

A copy of of the student’s attendance file will be sent to the District Attorney for review.

 

District Attorney Intervention

At this time, the District Attorney will determine if the parent and/or guardian is criminally liable for not sending a child to school. Possible outcomes include: 3 Year Probation or 1 Year in Jail; Class A Misdemeanor - Criminally Liable for Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

 

The full Attendance Policy is available for download (PDF). If you have questions, please contact your school’s main office.

Get tips to help you improve your child’s attendance and support their academic growth here:

The above resources contain helpful information for not only parents and families, but also for local businesses, elected officials, healthcare providers, early education providers and more. We will be sharing more resources and continuing our attendance campaign throughout the school year. Together, we can help our students develop positive attitudes toward school.

Traffic Safety Update

I am pleased to share that Cairo-Durham CSD and Questar III BOCES were honored by the National School Public Relations Association for excellence in communications. Our traffic safety public service announcement, “Wait, Look and Drive 45,” received an NSPRA Golden Achievement Award. This award recognizes exemplary work in all aspects of school public relations, communication, marketing and engagement.

Progress toward creating a safer school entrance is slow but ongoing. In addition to our traffic safety campaign, district leaders continue to meet with officials to discuss potential solutions. On July 25th, we met with representatives from the New York State Department of Transportation as well as state and local representatives.

Again, the District emphasized the ongoing safety concerns it has regarding the entrance to the middle/high school, and the need for more substantial and permanent changes to the intersection. Unfortunately, the outcome was the same as previous attempts to have changes made, such as the addition of a traffic signal or a turning lane. However, through help from both County Legislators as well as Senator Amedore and Assemblyman Tague, progress was made on the installation of “Your Speed Is” signs near the school entrance on Route 145. The goal is to increase driver awareness of their actual speeds when passing the school entrance, and hopefully encouraging those driving too fast to be more mindful of their speed.

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PDF icon Cairo-Durham Attendance Policy 711083.43 KB