District confirms case of scabies at LES

On Thursday, Sept. 28, district officials were informed that a student at Liberty Elementary School has a confirmed case of scabies.

Scabies is an infestation of the skin by a human itch mite. These mites burrow under the person’s skin where it lives and lays its eggs. The mite is transferred person to person by PROLONGED contact of the skin to another person. Prolonged, meaning, people who sleep together, household members and sometimes people who share towels (athletes), bedding.

Scabies usually is expected when there is a rash and intense itching. It is curable, but you have to get a prescription from your doctor after the doctor gives the diagnosis of scabies. There is no “over-the-counter” medication for this. Sometimes it may take a couple of treatments to totally cure the infestation. All people in the home of a person that has been diagnosed need to be treated.

If you suspect you or your child may have scabies, please contact your doctor and be tested. If you have any questions, please feel free to call Sullivan County Public Health Services at (845) 292-5910 or your primary health care provider.

This notification, along with the following information on symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of scabies will be sent home to all parents.

Symptoms

The primary symptom of scabies is severe itching, which often is so bad that it keeps people awake at night. The itching is caused as the female mite burrows into the skin, lays eggs, and produces toxins that cause allergic reactions. Small red bumps (that look like tiny pimples or tiny bites) can form on the skin.

The most common area for scabies to develop on the body are warmer sites such as skin folds, areas where clothing is tight (like the belt line or the buttocks), on the penis or around the nipples.

Excessive scratching may lead to bacterial infections of the skin in people who have scabies.

Diagnosis

Scabies is diagnosed when a doctor looks at the rash on your skin to determine whether or not you have mites, eggs or fecal matter from the mites under your skin.

Treatment

 

Scabies is treated with a lotion that is applied to a clean body and the lotion must be left on for eight hours, usually overnight, and then washed off. The person must put on clean clothes. All clothing, bedding and towels used by the people in the home should be washed in hot water and dried in a hot dryer. Seven to ten days after this, a second treatment of the body with the same lotion is usually given. Although itching may continue for two weeks after the treatments, it does not mean the infestation is still active. Another option is a pill, ivermectin, which is as effective as the creams and does not make a mess. The medicine is given twice over a week.

Anyone who is diagnosed with scabies needs to be treated. In addition, anyone who has had close contact with the person in the past month should also be treated. A family should all be treated at the same time to prevent reinfestation.

 

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LHS is investigating bullying allegations

Administrators are currently looking into bullying allegations among athletes at Liberty High School.

The district places the highest priority on student safety and, to that end, would like to make sure alleged incidents such as these never happen again. School administrators will be tightening its supervision of after-school sports in the locker rooms and will be addressing the issue with all of its athletic teams.

The district’s athletic handbook states that we demand an atmosphere that is free from all forms of harassment and/or violence.

In accordance with the Dignity for all Students Act, or DASA, the district condemns and strictly prohibits all forms of discrimination and harassment including bullying, taunting or intimidation, against students by students and/or employees on school property, which includes school buses, school sponsored events such as extracurricular events or activities and, in certain circumstances, off-school-property.

If you or your child has any information pertinent to this matter, please contact the district’s DASA Coordinator, Patrick Sullivan, at (845) 292-5400 ext. 5112 or psullivan@libertyk12.org. Students with first-hand information may also anonymously submit it to a school administrator through Anonymous Alerts.

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Students receive Triple C Award

Three powerful words–character, courage and commitment—form the foundation for an upstanding man or woman. These words represent Liberty’s core values and form our mission to help students pursue their dreams and contribute and thrive in a diverse community.

We’d like to recognize and congratulate fifth-grade students Kimberlin Malaga Gonzalez and Hannah Wormuth for receiving the Attorney General’s Triple C Award for Character, Courage, and Commitment (Service.)

Developing the next generation of leaders: a look at TSTT

Students in grade 9-10 have an opportunity to participate in the Today’s Students Tomorrow’s Teachers (TSTT) mentoring program at Liberty Central School District.

TSTT is for students who are interested in a career that involves teaching, coaching or leading. TSTT mentors these students by preparing them with effective leadership skills while still in high school.

The program is part of a school initiative that supports and mentors students who would like to pursue a career in education. The program’s advisor, Lisa Adrian-Davies, helps to identify, recruit, and mentor those current students who after college may return to Liberty classrooms as teachers and school leaders.

TSTT has received national recognition for its successful career partnership model and was cited by former US Secretary of Education, Richard W. Riley as “an innovative program that embodies many of the goals and objectives for educational excellence and should serve as a model for other regions in the nation.”

TSTT serves more than 300 high school students and over 300 college students who come from nearly 50 high schools in Connecticut, New York, Virginia and Massachusetts. According to its website, TSTT has a proven track record places increasing the number of minority and economically disadvantaged students on the teacher track.

Additionally, TSTT students can qualify for a minimum 50 percent tuition scholarship from its growing roster of partner colleges.

TSTT program features include:
• Career Development Workshops
• Teaching with Technology Conferences
• Teacher Mentors
• Tutor Training
• Job Shadowing
• College Guidance and Visits
• SAT Preparation
• Summer Internships
• College and Career Counseling Assistance

Why join TSTT?
“There is a great need for strong and effective leadership in our community,” Ms. Adrian-Davies said. “All students in Liberty Central School District are emerging leaders, and TSTT can help them develop a deeper understanding of leadership concepts from different perspectives.”

TSTT members meet regularly in the high school and may take part in TSTT excursions such as college visits, career and leadership based workshops, and conferences. Soon they will begin weekly tutoring sessions with middle school students and students who speak English as a Second Language.

Students who would like to learn more about TSTT can contact Lisa Adrian-Davies at LAdrianDavies@libertyk12.org or (845) 292-5400 ext. 4209.

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LPP helps prepare for life after graduation

Middle and high school students are encouraged to take advantage of the Liberty Partnerships Program (LPP,) an after-school and summer program implemented by SUNY Sullivan.

The program is designed to promote college readiness and career development among eligible students who need some additional assistance to help them meet their goals.

LPP is a New York State Education Department funded program. It serves students who need assistance in completing homework, preparing for tests, getting organized and thinking about and planning ahead for life after graduation. In an effort to keep students engaged in school and graduating, they will provide tutoring and mentoring, help with goal setting, informational presentations on college and career preparation, job shadowing, and college and career site visits.

Parents of LPP students will have the chance to attend workshops on such topics as college admissions, financial aid, preparing for college, and motivating youth toward academic achievement.

LPP is  open to students who attend the Fallsburg, Liberty and Monticello Central School Districts.

They have a great lineup of community partners, including the Hurleyville Makers’ Lab, Catholic Charities, and Sullivan Agencies Leading Together (SALT).

In order to join LPP, families will need to fill out an application. If you have questions about the application, contact your guidance counselor or LPP@sunysullivan.edu.

 

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Introducing the Healthy Series

The Liberty Central School District, together with the Liberty Network Group, will be hosting a series of free movie screenings and/or discussions in effort to build a healthier Liberty.

The more we know, the healthier we are. Please mark your calendar for any or all of the following events.  Specific information about each event will be announced on www.libertyk12.org.

The following sessions will take place at Liberty High School. RSVPs are strongly encouraged.

  • Sept. 21: “Exploring Addiction in Liberty” – a community discussion on substance abuse prevention and resources from 7-8 p.m.
  • Oct. 25: “Screenagers” – a community screening of an important film regarding impact screen time and its effect on the developing adolescent mind from 6:45-8 p.m. 
  • February 15: “Sugar Rush” – a community screening of an film about sugar, how easy it can be to overconsume sugar and its effect on young children from 6:45 – 8 p.m. Dental hygiene, diabetes, blood pressure and BMI screenings will also be available.
  • March 15: “Movement and Math Night” – Let’s get moving and experience math in a whole new way from 7-8 p.m. This event will be fun for the whole family!
  • May 17: “Liberty Fit Family Health Expo” – the healthy series finale from 6-8 p.m. This will be a night to remember! Featuring cooking demos, movement, community health organizations, raffles, giveaways and inspiration to live a healthier life!
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LCSD to examine addiction in Liberty

On Thursday, Sept. 21, the Liberty Central School District, together with the Liberty Networking Group and a host of other local organizations, will host ‘Addiction in Liberty,’ a discussion that will bring together district staff, students, parents, researchers and health care experts to examine the roots of our community’s addiction crisis and discuss solutions for combating addiction in Liberty.

The discussion will take place Thursday, Sept. 21, from 7-8 p.m. in the high school’s media center. The discussion is open to all community members.  This marks the beginning of a series of free workshops, panels and discussions in effort to make Liberty a healthier place.

The Sept. 21 discussion will be facilitated by Catholic Charities Director of Prevention Services Martin Colavito. Martin has worked in the substance abuse field for 30+ years. His predominant focus has been on community organization with an emphasis on substance abuse treatment and prevention, especially in the poor inner city neighborhoods.  He provides a “Too Good for Drugs” and “Too Good for Violence” evidenced based curriculum to schools. Martin’s unrelenting passion, enthusiasm, dedication and determination to improve the quality of living for the marginalized youth living in poor inner city neighborhoods is remarkably contagious.

Discussion will include:

  • What is addiction to substance abuse and how can it be prevented?
  • What resources are there for prevention?
  • How do we face the epidemic and help the addict to make our community healthier?
  • What do we need to do in Liberty?

RSVPs are not required but are encouraged. Send your questions and RSVPS to apagano@libertyk12.org.

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SED releases 2017 NYS ELA/math test scores

Background

On Aug. 22, 2017, the New York State Education Department (SED) released district and school results for the 2017 NYS ELA/math tests.
As in the past, students’ scores on the tests are converted into a scoring range of 1-4 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.

Summary of Results

For ELA, the statewide percentage of test-takers scoring at proficient levels (3 and 4) in 2017 increased by 1.9 percentage points to 39.8 percent, up from 37.9 percent in 2016.

For math, the statewide percentage of test-takers scoring at proficient levels (3 and 4) in 2017 increased by 1.1 percentage point to 40.2 percent, up from 39.1 percent in 2016.

Grades 7 and 8 saw the biggest change in student proficiency on the ELA this year, with Grade 7 proficiency increasing by 6.4 percentage points to 41.9 percent and Grade 8 proficiency increasing by 4.6 percentage points to 45.5 percent.

In grade 6, ELA proficiency dropped from 34.4 percent in 2016 to 32.4 percent in 2017. All other grades saw increases in proficiency.
Overall, black students had a 2.8 percentage point increase in those achieving proficiency in ELA, while Hispanic students had a 2.4 percentage point increase. In both cases, the increases were greater than those seen by white students, who had a 1.1 percentage point increase statewide. As a result, the achievement gap in ELA that separates the proficiency of black and Hispanic students from their white peers closed slightly statewide.

A U.S. Education Department waiver eliminated unnecessary double testing by allowing accelerated math students to participate in high school math Regents exams instead of the grade 8 math test. For some schools, this change may have resulted in a decrease in the total percentage of students scoring proficient in grade 8 math – not because students’ actual proficiency decreased but because the total testing pool for grade 8 math was smaller.

While the statewide percentage of test-takers scoring at proficient levels (3 and 4) in math increased, there was an average 1.4 percentage point decrease in proficiency in grades 4, 6 and 8 compared to 2016 (see chart below for percentage point decreases).

Additional Takeaways

The 2017 tests are comparable to the previous year’s tests. This is more of an “apples-to-apples” comparison because no significant changes were made to the assessments from last year.

Overall, students scoring at the proficiency level increased statewide. Grades 7 and 8 saw the biggest improvement in student proficiency on the ELA this year, with Grade 7 proficiency increasing by 6.4 percentage points to a total of 41.9 percent of students scoring in the proficiency range, and Grade 8 proficiency increasing by 4.6 percentage points to 45.5 percent of students scoring in the proficiency range.

Test Refusals

According to SED, the test refusal rate statewide for 2017 was approximately 19 percent, which was a decrease of two percentage points from last year.

According to state data, students who refused the test in 2017 were much more likely to be from low-need or average-need districts; much more likely to be white; less likely to be economically disadvantaged; and much less likely to be an English Language Learner.

A district-by-district breakdown of the total number of students who opted out is available as an Excel spread sheet here.

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Tax rates set for 2017-18 school year

At its Aug. 22 meeting, the Liberty Board of Education adopted the district’s tax rate calculation for the 2017-18 school year that carries a decrease in the Town of Liberty totaling .26 cents.

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.

Board President noted that this marks the fifth year that the district’s board and administrators brought in a zero or less tax levy and extended his thanks to the district’s business administrator, Lorine Lamerand.

Although the school district’s 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 2017-18 Assessed Value 2016-17 Assessed Value 2015-16 Assessed Value 2014-15 Assessed Value
Bethel $ 39.43 $37.49 $40.49 $41.28
Fallsburg $ 42.97 $43.24 $46.67 $46.04
Liberty $ 35.03 $35.29 $35.56 $35.76
Neversink $ 723.67 $722.60 $777.92 $787.65
Rockland $ 37.41 $38.81 $39.81 $41.00
Thompson $ 31.25 $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.

Update (Sept. 8, 2017)

Tax bills will be mailed to residents during on Sept. 8 and are due by Sept. 30 without penalty. Taxes collected Oct. 1-31 will be assessed a 2 percent 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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BOE moves forward with superintendent search

The effort to find a new superintendent for the Liberty Central School District is moving along. The district’s school board has settled on a search firm to help find the next superintendent and hopes to have that person in place by July 1, 2018.

At its Aug. 22 meeting, the Liberty Board of Education selected the Western New York Educational Service Council (WNYESC) as the district’s search consultant. The group will help to assist the board of education with candidate recruitment, credential reviews, and consultation in the hiring process. WNYESC has conducted over 450 superintendent searches on behalf of various New York State school boards and takes pride in its attention to detail.

The district will use WNYESC to conduct a series of community focus groups to determine the most important characteristics for the new leader. The firm will then cull through applications to produce some finalists to be vetted in public. Meanwhile, the day-to-day operations of the district will be handled by Mrs. Carol Napolitano, who took the helm as interim superintendent on July 1.

“I encourage the staff and community to stay informed and take part in the conversation. We value your input. I contend that Liberty needs the best of the best and deserves to have just that,” Mrs. Napolitano said.

“Throughout the year, we will be sharing information with you regarding this process and will be asking for your involvement. Our intent is to have our next Superintendent board appointed by April with a start date of July 1, 2018.”

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