By order of the Governor of  New York, public schools, including the Liberty Central School District, will remain CLOSED THROUGH APRIL 14, 2020.

Vaping 101: What every parent should know

There are hundreds of e-cigarette brands on the market, and they are now the most commonly used tobacco products among youth. Middle and high school students are increasingly using these battery-operated devices, often marketed as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, to inhale nicotine, THC and various synthetic chemicals.

And that has health officials – and school officials – worried.

Inhaling liquid nicotine is concerning on its own, but vaping unknown and potentially more dangerous and damaging substances is even more so, they say – and parents need to be on the alert.

Vaping: What is it?

Vaping is the “act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, produced by an e-cigarette or similar device,” according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (NCASA).

Vaping has become more popular among teens than regular cigarettes, especially since vaping devices can be used to inhale flavored substances – such as mint, crème brûlée or mango – and substances that contain nicotine or THC, the chemical compound in marijuana that produces the high.

E-cigarettes also can be used to vaporize opiates and synthetic substances.

What do e-cigarettes look like?

Many e-cigarettes and vaping devices look like everyday items – such as pens, asthma inhalers, iPods and lipstick tubes – which makes it easy to disguise their use. One popular vaping device that kids are bringing to school these days is the Juul vaporizer, which looks like a USB flash drive and can be charged by plugging it into a laptop. The Juul is small enough to conceal inside an enclosed hand and comes in eight different kid-appealing flavors. Packaging designs for some vaping liquids look a lot like popular candies, which could confuse some children and lead to accidental poisonings.

Is vaping safe?

Some people claim that vaping is less harmful than smoking, but “safer” does not equal safe. Nicotine – in any form – is a highly addictive drug. Teenage years are critical to brain development, which continues into adulthood. Vaping over a long period of time puts individuals at risk for negative long term effects, including:

  • Damage to the brain, heart and lungs;
  • Cancerous tumor development; and
  • Pre-term deliveries and stillbirths in pregnant women.

What are the risks associated with vaping?

While researchers are still learning about the effects of e-cigarettes, some dangers are clear, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control:

  • Chemicals in e-liquids can be more concentrated and dangerous than chemicals in a cigarette.
  • Inhaling from a vape pen or e-cigarette that contains nicotine or THC could amplify the drug’s side effects.
  • The additional synthetic chemicals that make up e-liquids – such as synthetic marijuana – could expose the lungs to a variety of chemicals, including carcinogens and toxic metal nanoparticles.
  • Chemicals from these devices can damage the inside of the mouth and create sores.

Are nicotine-free e-cigarettes safe?

Many teens – and adults – are under the impression that it’s safe to inhale nicotine-free water vapors, but recent studies say otherwise.

Much of the respiratory risk appears to come from the flavoring agents found in some e-cigarettes, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. When inhaled, these flavoring agents can cause “popcorn lung” – a scarring of the tiny air sacs in the lungs that results in the thickening and narrowing of airways. Popcorn lung mirrors the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says e-cigarettes are not safe for young adults. Some of the risk comes from the aerosol itself, which can contain lead, volatile organic compounds and cancer-causing agents.

Are there any regulations to protect my children?

Currently, there are no safety regulations in place related to e-cigarettes. The FDA states that minors are not permitted to buy e-cigarettes in stores or online, but that doesn’t prevent an underage person from buying them online by simply clicking a button that says they are 21 or older.

In New York state, e-cigarettes are treated the same as regular cigarettes. Vaping is banned in all public spaces, including bars and restaurants, the workplace, on public transportation, inside all public and private schools and colleges, and in outdoor areas where smoking is forbidden.

Did you know?

  • Half of middle school students who use e-cigarettes say they were the first type of tobacco product they ever used. Source: NCASA
  • More than 60 percent of teens believe occasional use of e-cigarettes causes only little or some harm. Source: U.S. Surgeon General
  • Many teenagers post photos on Instagram of themselves vaping or holding vaping devices. Source: U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency

What can parents do?

Find information about vaping and how to talk with your children about the risks here:

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Know the Risks: E-cigarettes and Young People

Liberty voters approve $48.8 million budget

On Tuesday, May 15, Liberty Central School District residents approved the district’s $48.8 million 2018-19 budget proposal and elected three members to the Liberty Board of Education.

Voters approved:

  •  A $48,849,113 budget for 2018-19 that increases spending by 6.4 percent ($2,936,104) and carries a 2.71 percent tax levy increase ($505,308): 224 yes, 99 no;
  • A no-cost referendum which allows the district to expend the remaining balance of its Capital Reserve Fund: 234 yes, 85 no;
  • Three candidates for three open board of education seats: Joyce Teed, Peter Racette and Karen Hook.

Joyce Teed, Peter Racette and Karen Hook will begin serving their terms on the Liberty Board of Education on July 1, 2018. In total, three candidates sought election to the three open seats:

  • Joyce Teed: 248 yes votes
  • Peter Racette: 231 yes votes
  • Karen Hook: 211 yes votes

There were twelve write in ballots for the board:

  • Michael Tocco: 1 vote
  • Kurt Zilles: 1 vote
  • Tania DeFrank: 1 vote
  • Mike Priore: 1 vote
  • Wain Hewlett: 1 vote
  • Dan Marty: 1 vote
  • Ken Grabowski: 1 vote
  • Mary Grabowski: 1 vote
  • Marta Illing: 1 vote
  • William Hulse: 1 vote
  • Jennifer Desrochers: 2 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,” Interim Superintendent of Schools Carol Napolitano said. “It’s gratifying to move forward with a fiscal plan that ensures our students get the best education possible while also focusing on safety, security and technology advancements.”

Visit to learn more about the 2018-19 school budget.

Five facts about the proposed 2018-19 budget

On Tuesday, May 15, residents will head to the polls to vote on a $48,849,113 proposed budget for the 2018-19 school year. In need of a refresher? Scan these facts for a more informed conversation about your local school budget before you cast your ballot.

1. The board of education worked with district and school leaders to develop the 2018-19 budget proposal, which was informed by the district’s mission, educational goals, fiscal challenges and opportunities and community input.

2. The district remains under the tax cap. Including this coming proposed budget, the average five year tax levy increase is zero. The actual tax levy will not be set until August, after the district receives its true state aid revenue projections.

3. The proposed budget is built on three pillars: safety, programs and technology. Within these pillars, highlights include:

An additional school resource officer

After the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida, school safety has resurfaced as a significant challenge of the times. In response, the district understands the value and necessity for a visible and active law enforcement figure within the schools, to work hand-in-hand with faculty, administrators and students. The proposed budget includes funds for a door alarm system the elementary school and a second School Resource Officer who would patrol our three school buildings and district office.


The creation of a K-8 MakerSpace

For several years, there has been a national focus on careers related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM.) More recently, this focus has come to include the arts. The proposed budget includes funds to create a K-8 MakerSpace, a lab which contains age-appropriate elements found in a woodshop class, science lab, computer lab and an art room. With a MakerSpace, students won’t just learning about cities, they’ll build them from the ground up.


Updated, stronger and faster technology

If the budget is approved, the district would purchase equipment for the MakerSpace and would outfit all classrooms with new iPads, SmartBoards, computers and cameras. Additionally, the district would have a significant increase in the capabilities of its internal network, including more storage, more bandwidth and a faster internet connection.


4. There is a proposition on the ballot that asks voters for approval to expend money from the Capital Reserve Fund. The district has $1,650,000 left in its Capital Reserve Fund and would like voter approval to expend the fund to pay down expenses from the Phase II Capital Project. Just like a savings account, this fund lets the district set aside money for future projects and major purchases.

5. Polls are open Tuesday, May 15 from 12-9 p.m. in the Liberty High School’s gymnasium. Additional details of the budget can be found at

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Liberty strikes gold when it comes to nutrition

The Liberty Central School District has joined nearly 30,000 schools nationwide in the effort to implement “Smarter Lunchroom” strategies – and has reached the “gold level” in the Smarter Lunchroom Scorecard assessment.

What is Smarter Lunchrooms?

Offering healthy foods in the school lunchroom is one thing. Getting students to choose (and eat) the healthier options is the challenge – and that’s where “Smarter Lunchrooms” comes in. According to its website, “Smarter Lunchrooms” is a nationwide movement based on proven strategies for “…nudging students to select and eat the healthiest foods in the school lunchroom.”

The premise behind “Smarter Lunchrooms” is that by changing how food is presented, one could potentially change the eating choices that a student makes in the cafeteria.

What is the Smarter Lunchroom Scorecard?

The Smarter Lunchrooms Scorecard contains 60 no-cost or low-cost strategies that lunchrooms can use to increase participation, improve consumption of healthy food, and reduce food waste.  The strategies are based on research from the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs and partners and other behavioral science research.

Thousands of schools across the country use the Smarter Lunchrooms Scorecard to assess and implement evidence-based strategies that make the healthy choice the easy choice.  Public health professionals, including those at SNAP-ED agencies, health departments, education departments, universities, extension, and obesity prevention programs use the Smarter Lunchrooms Scorecard to measure improvements to the school nutrition environment.

How did Liberty score?

The Smarter Lunchroom scoring scale is as follows:

  • Bronze: 15-25 points
  • Silver: 26-45 points
  • Gold: 46-60 points

Each school building at Liberty Central School District earned gold. Liberty Elementary School scored a 47 out of 60 points; Liberty Middle School scored a 49 out of 60 points; and Liberty High School scored a 46 out of 60 points.

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High school principal vacancy reopens

On Friday, May 4, Liberty High School’s newly hired principal, Robert Knuschke, informed the district of his decision to remain employed as a principal for the Walton Central School District.

Mr. Knuschke was appointed Liberty High School Principal by the Liberty Board of Education on Feb. 13. He would have succeeded Jack Strassman, who is set to retire at the end of the 2017-18 school year.

“It is with mixed emotions that we share this news with our school community,” Liberty Central School District Assistant Superintendent Dr. Augustine E. Tornatore said. “As the administrative changes within our schools continue, the district would like to strengthen the lines of communication between parents, staff, students and the community.”

Last month, parents, students and staff were invited to participate in the district’s Diagnostic Tool for School and District Effectiveness (DTSDE) Survey. This five minute survey asks about leadership and capacity and school leader practices and decisions and closes on Saturday, May 6.

“We need community input now more than ever, and welcome it with open arms during this pivotal point in Liberty history,” Dr. Tornatore said.  “I want to assure our parents, staff and students that throughout this transition, we will continue to work in partnership and with complete transparency.”

Dr. Tornatore, who currently serves as the district’s assistant superintendent, will fill the role of superintendent beginning in July 2018.

Updates and information regarding the high school principal position will be posted on the district’s website and Facebook page as soon as they are available.

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