Liberty conducts voluntary water test

One water fountain turned off as a precaution; all other fixtures deemed fine

In response to state- and nation-wide concerns about lead in drinking water, the district voluntarily conducted a water test in April. Orange-Ulster BOCES collected water samples from various sources throughout each of Liberty’s three schools, including drinking fountains, classrooms and cafeterias, to test for lead.

During sample collection, Orange-Ulster BOCES (Boards of Cooperative Educational Services) recommended that a single antiquated water fountain on the third floor in Liberty Elementary School be shut off. The water fountain was built with a lead fitting that could potentially seep lead into the water.

The fountain was immediately shut off. In its official report, Orange-Ulster BOCES reported that while the district’s water samples were within normal ranges, trace amounts of lead were detected in samples from the one antiquated fountain.

The piping surrounding the fountain was deemed lead-free by Orange-Ulster BOCES, which pinpoints the water fountain as the only source of lead, Superintendent of Schools Dr. William Silver said. The fountain will remain turned off until it and its plumbing can be removed and replaced. Although not considered to pose a threat, a second fountain on the third floor will be replaced so the two units match.

No lead was detected in any other schools or any other water sources at Liberty Elementary School.
Although there is no legal requirement for school districts to test for lead in drinking water, the district tested proactively to ensure students’ safety, especially in light of recent national and local news surrounding elevated lead levels in drinking water, Dr. William Silver said.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), lead in drinking water is rarely the sole cause of lead poisoning. For more information about prevention and risks to lead exposure, please contact your family physician or log on to the EPA’s website.

You may also contact Dr. Silver at (845) 292-6990 and speak with his secretary, Tania DeFrank.

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Free meals available during summer months

For many families on a tight budget, finding ways to keep kids
healthy, active and engaged can be tough during summer vacation. The
district is working with the USDA and Town of Liberty Parks and
Recreation to ensure that kids stay healthy when school’s out.

The Liberty Central School District will be participating in the
USDA Summer Food Service Program from June 27 of this year through
August 12. Participating sites (listed below) will provide free,
nutritious meals to kids and teens 18 and under.

This is the third year that Liberty has offered the program. Last
summer, the district served over 7,000 free meals to children ages
2-18.

Meals will be provided to all children without charge. There are
no income requirements to participate in this summer program, and
students do not have to be enrolled in Liberty Central Schools.

Participating sites:

  • Liberty Elementary School – 201 Main Street
    Beginning June 27, lunch will be served to any child,
    accompanied by an adult Monday through Friday from 11:45 a.m.
    – 12:30 p.m. at the Liberty Elementary School cafeteria.
  • Francis A. Hanofee Park – 136 Sunset Lake Road
    Beginning June 27, the district will provide breakfast and
    lunch each week day to participants of the Town of Liberty
    Parks and Recreation Day Camp participants at Hanofee Park
    from 8:45 – 9:15 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.
  •  Liberty Middle/High School – 125 Buckley
    Street

    Beginning July 5, the district will also provide breakfast
    and lunch each week day to students taking part in the full
    day Grade K-6 and Grade 7-12 Summer School Programs at the
    Liberty Middle School from 7:30 – 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. –
    12:45 p.m.

For additional information, please contact Lorine Lamerand at
llamerind@libertyk12.org or (845) 292-5400 ext. 2060.

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LES prepares for computerized ELA testing

Starting this week, fourth-grade students at Liberty Elementary
School will take computerized tests in English language arts to help
prepare for New York’s official transition to computer-based state
testing next year.

In a memo last fall, the New York State Education Department (SED)
invited all New York schools to try out computer-based testing in
this spring’s field test, to give administrators, teachers,
students and state officials a chance to see how they work in real
school settings.

Liberty Central School District is among more than 900 schools
participating in the field test.

Only fourth-grade students are taking part in the field tests. The
field tests will be available on iPads and administered between
May 23 and June 10.

Districts will have the option of offering online testing for the
actual state exams in 2016-17, and both computer and paper state
exams will be offered through 2020. The transition to
computer-based testing is meant to be slow in consideration of
each district’s technological infrastructure and different
logistical challenges.

This transition stems move from the state’s “commitment to meeting
the needs of 21st century learners, while at the same time
improving test delivery, test integrity, scoring validity, and
turn-around time on testing results,” Executive Deputy
Commissioner Elizabeth Berlin said in the memo.

Field test results do not affect student grades or factor into
accountability ratings for districts, schools or teachers. Rather,
the tests are given to help ensure questions used in future state
exams are appropriate and fair for all students.

The web-based test delivery platform includes accommodations for
students with disabilities, English learners and English learners
with disabilities. Students also will have access to on-screen
math tools, such as calculators, protractors and rulers, approved
for their grade level.

The 40-minute tests will be administered to just one grade and in
one subject and won’t count on student transcripts or toward final
grades. The purpose of the test is to help the district pinpoint
any technical issues and to help get students comfortable with the
technology.

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Students present tourism, leisure ideas to community officials

A group of Liberty Elementary School fourth-graders got the chance to present their community improvement suggestions to Mayor Ronald Stabak, Liberty Supervisor Charlie Barbuti and Parks and Recreation Director Brian Scardefield during an open panel on May 16.

The open panel was conceptualized by the fourth grade student body as a way for students to directly tell the community officials what they wanted to see added to the downtown Liberty area to make it a great place to live and play.

The panel was a capstone their reading/writing lesson, explained reading/writing teacher Mrs. Jodi Fiddle-Lieberman.

Each student from the fourth-grade student body read a series of articles that raised their own concerns regarding childhood obesity, lack of physical activity and dependency on technology.

Using research and causal inference, they decided to write letters outlining their suggestions for improving the Liberty community and addressing those three concerns.

By preparing for and presenting at the forum, each student met the following Common Core State Standards:
– Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes;
– Speak clearly at an understandable pace; and
-Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

While preparing for the panel, each student wrote letters to Mr. Stabak, Barbuti and Scardefield to express their concerns and suggestions for to improve the economy, decrease obesity and increase physical activity among Liberty’s youth. Eight students were selected to represent the fourth-grade class and lead the panel’s discussion topics.

The students introduced several ideas that would provide additional options for family-oriented leisure activities in Liberty. For example, one representative suggested to create a bike path or widen the roads’ existing bike lanes to that students could safety ride through town. This modification would save money on gas, as well as encourage healthy living styles.

One representative suggested that Parks and Recreation hold a snowman building contest in the winter, while another asked if the town could host a “sweet treat baking competition” for children and their parents to compete in. This event would help get kids away from electronics and spend more time with family, student Ishay Smith said.

Other suggestions included opening a petting farm, creating an elementary basketball courts and closing Main Street to make a roller rink.

“Today’s youth spend a lot of time playing video games and as a result, mix fiction with reality,” student Mia Barragon said, citing an article about the correlation of video game playing and bullying. “If there were more physical activities to do in the town, they wouldn’t be spending so much time playing video games.”

The panel resulted in very tangible results: a pledge to move forward by considering student suggestions and conduct a student-wide survey to see what other types of town-hosted events or activities students would be interested in attending.

“I feel like I was able to make a difference in my community today,” student Stephanie Sandoval said.

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Liberty Wall of Fame changes induction criteria

For the first time since 2011, the Liberty Wall of Fame has changed its rules regarding the induction criteria. The Wall of Fame selection committee has eliminated the option to induct community and staff members. Instead, the Liberty Wall of Fame will solely recognize distinguished alumni.

Beginning July 2016, the Wall of Fame selection committee will no longer accept or review nomination forms for community or staff members.

The changes are the result of an extensive review of the nomination process that was established in 2011. The review included an evaluation of the nomination system and criteria.

“As a school district that strives to instill the concepts of achievement and excellence in our students, [the Wall of Fame selection committee] felt that an alumni-only Wall of Fame would illustrate what our students may attain through hard work and commitment,” Assistant Superintendent Carol Napolitano said.

The new process will begin in July 2016, when the new nomination forms will be released.

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Voters approve budget; elect BOE members

On Tuesday, May 17, Liberty Central School District residents
approved the district’s $44.4 million 2016-17 budget proposal and
elected three members to the Liberty Board of Education.

Voters approved:

• A 44,414,849 budget for 2016-17 that increases spending by 3.3
percent ($1,433,044) and yields a -2.61 percent tax levy decrease:
480 yes, 150 no.
• Three candidates for three open board of education seats:
Matthew DeWitt, Dr. Philip Olsen and John L. Nichols.

Mr. DeWitt, Dr. Olsen and Mr. Nichols will begin serving their
terms on the Liberty Board of Education on July 1, 2016. In total,
eight candidates sought election to the three open seats:

• Andrew Kavleski: 281 votes
• Anthony Covington: 121 votes
• Rachel A. Reeves-Graves: 93 votes
• Timothy P. Burke, Esq.: 134 votes
• Dr. Philip Olsen: 321 votes
• Cindy Prince: 181 votes
• Matthew DeWitt: 334 votes
• John L. Nichols: 306 votes

District officials would like to thank the members of the Liberty
community for coming to the polls to vote.

“We want to thank all those who took time to vote today,”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. William Silver said. “It’s
gratifying to move forward with a fiscal plan that ensures our
students get the best education possible and reduces the burden on
our taxpayers.”

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Fourth-graders suggest improvements to mayor

A group of Liberty Elementary School fourth-graders got the chance to
present their community improvement suggestions to Mayor Ronald
Stabak, Liberty Supervisor Charlie Barbuti and Parks and Recreation
Director Brian Scardefield during an open panel on May 16.

The open panel was conceptualized by the fourth grade student body
as a way for students to directly tell the community officials
what they wanted to see added to the downtown Liberty area to make
it a great place to live and play.

The panel was a capstone their reading/writing lesson, explained
reading/writing teacher Mrs. Jodi Fiddle-Lieberman.

Each student from the fourth-grade student body read a series of
articles that raised their own concerns regarding childhood
obesity, lack of physical activity and dependency on technology.

Using research and causal inference, they decided to write letters
outlining their suggestions for improving the Liberty community
and addressing those three concerns.

By preparing for and presenting at the forum, each student met the
following Common Core State Standards:
– Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an
experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and
relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes;
– Speak clearly at an understandable pace; and
-Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey
ideas and information clearly.

While preparing for the panel, each student wrote letters to Mr.
Stabak, Barbuti and Scardefield to express their concerns and
suggestions for to improve the economy, decrease obesity and
increase physical activity among Liberty’s youth. Eight students
were selected to represent the fourth-grade class and lead the
panel’s discussion topics.

The students introduced several ideas that would provide additional
options for family-oriented leisure activities in Liberty. For
example, one representative suggested to create a bike path or
widen the roads’ existing bike lanes to that students could safety
ride through town. This modification would save money on gas, as
well as encourage healthy living styles.

One representative suggested that Parks and Recreation hold a
snowman building contest in the winter, while another asked if the
town could host a “sweet treat baking competition” for children
and their parents to compete in. This event would help get kids
away from electronics and spend more time with family, student
Ishay Smith said.

Other suggestions included opening a petting farm, creating an
elementary basketball courts and closing Main Street to make a
roller rink.

“Today’s youth spend a lot of time playing video games and as a result, mixfiction with reality,” student Mia Barragon said, citing an
article about the correlation of video game playing and bullying.
“If there were more physical activities to do in the town, they
wouldn’t be spending so much time playing video games.”

The panel resulted in very tangible results: a pledge to move
forward by considering student suggestions and conduct a
student-wide survey to see what other types of town-hosted events
or activities students would be interested in attending.

“I feel like I was able to make a difference in my community
today,” student Stephanie Sandoval said.

For photos and video,“like” the district on Facebook.

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Third-graders hear about clean water in Haiti

A wonderful morning was spent with Gift of Water Director Lamothe
Paul Lormier, who addressed over 120 third-graders on the
importance of having clean water in the world on Thursday, May 12
in the Liberty Elementary cafeteria.

Lamothe is from Haiti and has participated with the Liberty Rotary
Club’s Haiti Clean Water Project.

Together, he and Rotary member Mr. Gary Siegel discussed and
showed a power point presentation asking Where in the world is
Haiti? and Why don’t they have clean water like us?

Students had the chance to taste the water that was purified from
a simple purifier that was displayed by Mr. Siegel. Lamothe let
students know that one purifier purifies water for five Haitian
families.

This presentation connected with the Third Grade Module Unit of
Study on the Importance of Clean Water and was organized by
reading and writing teacher Mrs. Jodi Fiddle- Lieberman.

Liberty Elementary School’s third-grade students are now
campaigning to make a change for clean water. They are requesting
others to drop their change in cans throughout the building. The
change will be collected and donated to Lamothe to aid his
organization to bring more filters to families in Haiti.

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Budget vote and BOE elections Tues., May 17

Eligible residents will vote on a $44.4 million school budget
proposal on Tuesday, May 17, from noon to 9 p.m. in the Liberty High
School gymnasium.

The proposed 44,414,849 budget for 2016-17 would increase spending
by 3.3 percent ($1,433,044) and yields a -2.61 percent tax levy
decrease.

In addition to the budget proposition, voters also will decide
upon eight candidates to fill three open seats on the Liberty
Board of Education. They are, listed in ballot order:

– Andrew Kavleski
– Rachel A. Reeves-Graves
– Dr. Philip Olsen
– Matthew DeWitt
– Anthony Covington
– Timothy P. Burke Esq.
– Cindy Prince
– John L. Nichols

Residents who are not sure if they are registered to vote can
access the online Poll Finder to find out. Today (Monday, May
16) is the last day to fill out an absentee ballot.

Absentee ballots can be picked up in the office of the District
Clerk Tania DeFrank at 115 Buckley St before 4 p.m.

Polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. at the Liberty High School
Gymnasium. There will be a brief Liberty Board of Education
meeting in the immediately following the tallying of votes.

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Jeff Hall, Kathleen Johansen named Outstanding Educators

Two members of the Liberty Central School District community will be presented with an Outstanding Educator of the Year award during the Sullivan County School Boards Association’s (SCSBA) Annual Dinner Meeting at the Villa Roma in Callicoon, NY on Wednesday, May 25. The award is designed to honor an educator was has gone above and beyond and have made a significant impact on the education of children in Sullivan County.

Jeff Hall, an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher from Liberty Middle School and Kathleen Lambert-Johansen, an art teacher and department chair at Liberty High School will both be honored with Outstanding Educator awards.

As a dedicated ESL teacher, Mr. Hall works to make content relevant to students and builds on their existing strengths from their previous education in their home classrooms.

“He has successfully incorporated technology within his classroom, using iPads within his curriculum,” Liberty Middle School Assistant Principal Richard Schacher said. “His lessons are very comprehensive, utilizing many techniques to help the students learn and grow.”

In addition, Mr. Hall works with his ESL students with all of their courses. As a result, students know Mr. Hall and many seek him out throughout the day and consider his classroom to be a wonderfully diverse atmosphere where all are welcome.

Mrs. Lambert-Johansen’s enthusiasm, innovativeness, and genuine concern for the arts in education are exemplary and are appreciated by the entire Liberty community. Her flexibility in working with students, teachers, and the public has earned her an enviable reputation as an excellent teacher who truly cares about art and people.

Through her enthusiasm, hard work, and careful planning, Liberty students have won many awards in competitions and had their work displayed in places such as the Liberty Museum, The Catskill Art Society, SUNY Sullivan and the Village of Liberty.

“Under her leadership, the art program across the district has benefitted. It includes activities to meet the individual needs of all children,” Liberty High School Assistant Principal, Anthony Sinacore said. “She demonstrates the highest level of professional commitment and competency in her work. To carry out her professional responsibilities, she gives generously of her valuable time, and often her work extends beyond the school day.

The SCSBA’s annual dinner will be held on May 25 at 5:30 p.m. at the Villa Roma Club House in Callicoon, New York. For more information, please click here.

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