Liberty grad reflects on journey at ESL Night

At the district’s tenth annual English as a Second Language (ESL) Night on Aug, 25, Irais Leon, class of 2016, explained how her support system of friends, family and teachers helped her to learn English and excel in Honors courses.

“I start college on Monday,” she said. “I’m going to be a nurse.”

Irais went on to say that parents who speak little or no English can still contribute to their children’s education.

“Please don’t let your children slack off or fall behind,” she said. “Push them. Take advantage of their teachers. Help is available.”

These may have been stark words to contemplate, but Irais’ message was clear – the only way students are able to make it through school is with strong support from school and home.

Her words were met with wild applause and sentiments were echoed by Mrs. Medina, Mr. Hall and Ms. Shamro, who explained that all parents can be helpful in their children’s achievement, regardless of their language or literacy level.

Teachers then gave pledge to the families in attendance that they would do all they could to provide a quality education for their children, but also told them they wanted to partner with families to ensure their child reaches his or her highest potential.

The night was a way for students and parents meet with their principals, teachers and nurses. Particular attention was paid to supports available to help students meet educational expectations and about the school’s procedures and practices. Representatives from PRASAD, Hudson River Health Plan, Sullivan County Adult BOCES, Child Care Council, Literacy Volunteers, Liberty Public Library and the Youth Economic Group were available to answer questions, provide insight and pass out translated materials.

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Tax rates set for 2016-17 school year

At its Aug. 23 meeting, the Liberty Board of Education adopted the district’s tax levy for the 2016-17 school year that carries an average tax rate decrease of 6.82 percent.

The lower tax rate reflects the board of education’s continuing efforts to keep its school tax levy as low as possible while delivering a quality education program. Through realistic budgeting, the board was able to lower the tax levy (the total amount of dollars raised by all school taxes) by -2.61 percent for the 2016-17 school year.

Although the school district’s 2016-17 budget remains under the state-mandated cap and carries a tax levy decrease, property owners’ tax rates may vary due to changes in equalization rates, which are determined by the New York State Office of Real Property Services, and property assessments, which are determined at the town level.

Tax rates may differ among the towns within a school district because each property is individually assessed in relation to its full market value. Every summer, the state assigns an equalization rate for each town that creates an assessment value equal to its full market value. This process is intended to ensure that each town pays its fair share of school taxes based on the town’s market value.

Tax rates for the six towns that comprise the school district are as follows:

Town 16-17 Assessed Value 15-16 Assessed Value 14-15 Assessed Value
Bethel $37.49 $40.49 $41.28
Fallsburg $43.24 $47.67 $46.04
Liberty $35.29 $35.56 $35.76
Neversink $722.60 $777.92 $787.65
Rockland $38.81 $39.81 $41.00
Thompson $31.20 $33.59 $34.40

 

The school district has no control over property assessments or equalization rates; it only controls the tax levy. Questions about assessments and equalization rates should be directed to the appropriate town assessor’s office.

Tax bills will be mailed to residents during the first week in Sept. and are due by Sept. 30 without penalty. If you don’t receive your bill by Sept. 15, please contact the tax collector, Jeanne Dutcher at (845) 439-3557.

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Liberty students in grades 3-8 see growth in state test scores

Proficiency rate up from previous year

Student achievement in the Liberty Central School District is moving in a positive trend, but local test scores were still below statewide averages on New York state assessments, according to data released by the State Education Department (SED).

In late July, SED released district and school results for the English language arts (ELA) and mathematics assessments taken in spring 2016 by students in grades 3-8.

As in the past, students’ scores on the tests are converted into a scoring range of 1 through 4 meant to indicate their degree of proficiency in the Common Core standards for the grade level. Scores at levels 3-4 indicate proficiency (4 means that a student excels in the standards), while levels 1-2 indicate a student is below proficiency.

Results show Liberty students’ combined levels 3-4 proficiency rates were 19 percent for ELA and 25 percent for math, compared with statewide results of 37.9 percent for ELA and 39.1 percent for math.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bill Silver attributed the district’s positive results to the hard work of students and teachers, increased experience with the Common Core, increased use of technology across the district and changes made by the state in response to parents’ and educators’ concerns.

Although Liberty students’ scores were below statewide averages for proficiency, they did reflect an increase in performance compared to the 2014-15 school year. The district’s proficiency rates for ELA and math increased by four percentage points each.

The district saw a year-to-year increase of in its math and ELA results for nearly all grade levels, however; the state cautioned in its release about statewide scores that “while the content of the 2016 tests and last year’s tests are comparable and similarly rigorous, it is not possible to make direct comparisons of the 2016 results to prior years’ results because of changes to the tests this year.”

It is also important to note that there are additional factors which contribute to the district’s performance, including the number of students who speak English as a second language and the number of students who chose to opt-out of this year’s exams.

As in the past, these state assessments do not factor into a student’s grades for the year. Instead, teachers and administrators look to the assessment results as a way to gain insight into curricular areas that may need to be refined to support student learning.

“While the state may put importance on a given year’s test results, the larger purpose of education is making sure that students have the skills, knowledge and experiences they need to be successful in life,” Dr. Silver said. “Our students worked hard last year and should be proud of the gains they made. These results simply tell us there’s still more work for [the district] to do to help students meet today’s high standards.”

Parents can anticipate receiving information on their child’s individual performance on the assessments in September. For more information, please contact the main office of your child’s school.

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