Budget development continues

At the March 19 Board meeting, School Business Official Georgia Gonzalez identified the district’s expenses and potential budget additions for 2019-20.

Click here to view the March 19 presentation. 

The budget is guided by the district’s strategic plan, which focuses on advancing curriculum and programs, meeting student social and emotional needs and providing safe and welcoming schools for all students. The budget is being developed by a budget committee, comprised of district leaders, educators and board of education members.

While the proposed budget for 2019-20 is still under development, the district expects that current programs and services will be maintained next year.

Potential budget additions that have been discussed include an after-school tutoring program at the middle and high school and field maintenance equipment for the soccer, softball and baseball fields.

School safety and operational effectiveness continue to be central to the district’s planning. Budget considerations for next year also include an additional school resource officer (SRO) and a new truck and/or maintenance equipment for the buildings and grounds department.

The district is projecting increased costs in areas such as employee health insurance premiums and workers’ compensation insurance. State aid is one of the district’s main revenue sources, but for many years, it has been below the level prescribed by law. As of press time, the district estimates a revenue deficit of $359,432.

On March 19, Mrs. Gonzalez outlined three ways the district could make up for the deficit in revenue for 2019-20. Those options include:

  • reducing expenses;
  • expending unappropriated fund balance* (see note below); or
  • increasing the tax levy.

The district will finalize its budget proposal in April. The Liberty Central School District Board of Education will adopt the proposal on April 23, and district residents will vote on the proposed budget on May 21.

Budget development at Liberty will continue until the district adopts its budget on April 23. Mrs. Gonzalez will present additional information on the budget during the board’s April 9 and 11 meetings. Regular budget updates will continue to be posted to the district’s website for those who are unable to attend board meetings.

*If revenue collected for the school budget remains at the end of a district’s fiscal year, that money becomes part of its fund balance. Districts must adhere to state laws that govern how fund balance can be spent. Options include applying it to a future budget in the form of revenue, earmarking it for anticipated future needs and/or saving it for unexpected emergencies.

Liberty celebrates Harriet Forshay Day

There’s not a student or parent at Liberty Elementary School who doesn’t know Harriet Forshay. For years, twice a day, Monday through Friday, you’ll find Harriet at the school’s crosswalk with her giant stop sign and hilarious hat.

On March 27, Liberty Elementary School students, staff, administrators and school resource officers joined together to thank Harriet for her many years of service as a crossing guard, protector and motivator. In this part birthday/part “thank you” celebration, students and staff lined the halls wearing their craziest hat.  

Harriet was showered with hugs and presented with flowers, a cake and a brand new hat from the Liberty Police PBA. 

Press play on the video below for a look at the celebration:

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Jack Simons to be inducted to the Wall of Fame

The Liberty Central School District is proud to announce this year’s inductee to its Wall of Fame. One outstanding individual will be honored at a special ceremony at Liberty High School on Friday, June 28.

This year’s inductee is Jack Simons, Class of 1951.

Upon graduating from Liberty High School, he served his county in Korea and was later awarded the Combat Infantry Badge and the Purple Heart. He was employed at the U.S. Post Office in Liberty for 12 years and Prudential Insurance Company for 22 years.

He was a former Liberty Town Supervisor, president of the Greater Liberty Chamber of Commerce, president and chairman of the Town of Liberty Democratic Committee and treasurer of the Sullivan County Democratic Committee.

Mr. Simons was awarded the Veterans of Foreign War’s Citizen of the Year in 1998 and the Greater Liberty Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year in 2001.

It is with pride that we honor Jack Simons as the 2019 Wall of Fame Inductee.

Mr. Simons’ legacy will be celebrated during an evening reception on Friday, June 28. The induction will take place at 6:30 p.m., prior to the Class of 2019 Commencement Ceremony.

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Board appoints Dr. Sullivan Assistant Superintendent of Schools

Headshot of a man wearing a black blazer, grey collared shirt and grey and black striped tieIt’s been a big week for Liberty Middle School Assistant Principal Patrick Sullivan.

 

 

 

 

 

On March, 18, he earned his doctorate in educational leadership from Manhattanville College. On March 19, he was appointed Assistant Superintendent of Schools by the Liberty Board of Education.

The Liberty Central School District Board of Education is pleased to announce Dr. Patrick Sullivan  as the next Assistant Superintendent of Schools, effective July 1, 2019.

In the four years since Dr. Sullivan joined the Liberty Central School District, no grass has grown beneath his feet. He joined the district’s administrative team in 2016 as Assistant Director of Student Services. In 2018, he became Assistant Principal of Liberty Middle School.

During his time at Liberty, Dr. Sullivan implemented several initiatives to improve educational and emotional supports as well as safety and security.

Dr. Sullivan completed his undergraduate degree at St. Lawrence University and later earned a Master of Science in Education from Long Island University and a Certificate in Advanced Graduate Studies in Educational Leadership and Administration from Long Island University.

Percussionist takes students on musical journey

On an exciting March morning, seventh- and eighth-grade students from Mr. Wheeler and Mr. Bradley’s social studies classroom file into the gymnasium. A circle of Djembes, Doumbeks and conga drums greet them.

Under the instruction of world-renowned percussionist Jeff Haynes, the students begin to play.

As Mr. Haynes whips around, a rhythm slowly starts to take shape.

“I feel good, don’t you feel good?” he asks the class. “I know you’re ready, family!”

Before long, the students loosen their form and the music begins to flow. And then, as if by magic, a dynamic and harmonious jam session erupts, echoes down the hall and catches the attention of the class passing by.

This jam session is one of many that will take place in March.  Over the course of the next two weeks, Mr. Haynes will collaborate with the social studies teachers in a lesson that takes students on an educational and musical journey through history.

But the students’ drum sessions extend beyond the curriculum. Learning how listen to each other and work together to build a melody enhances their confidence and fosters a sense of greater connection between them, observes Mr. Wheeler.

The lesson culminated with a special school wide performance at the end of the month featuring students drumming to spoken word. View a four minute clip from the performance here.

Teachers share best practices at conference day

Teachers stand with Greg Tang, a mathematician Professional development is important to us. It’s what helps our educators stay on top of our educational game!

A handful of Liberty teachers recently spent a professional development day with Greg Tang, the mathematician and mastermind behind some of the district’s favorite education math games and classroom programs.

 

Those teachers spread the wealth (of knowledge) during the district’s March 15 Conference Day.

With a background in economics, business, and math education, Tang is intent on developing “a more intuitive approach to math, one that combines problem-solving and arithmetic and integrates math with language and art.” In addition to writing engaging picture books, he also develops teaching guides, workbooks, flash cards, and math games.

Teacher stands in front of a SmartBoard

At Liberty, we believe that effective professional development is more than simply sharing new ideas; it also includes a commitment to fully integrate those ideas into the classroom and the school culture.

The district builds professional development into its budget because it keeps teachers up-to-date on new research about how children learn, emerging technology tools for the classroom, new curriculum resources and more.

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LES hosts Camp Read S’more Literacy Night

A group of students sitting around a paper campfire Liberty Elementary School hosted “Camp Read S’More” Literacy Night for all students and parents on March. 14. Attendees camped out at several literacy stations, including a campfire read-aloud, book bingo, a s’more station stuffed with adjectives and a photo booth.

Caucasian students holds up a book

Students who attended the elementary school’s Literacy Night were thrilled to find that their school’s gymnasium was transformed into a world of twinkling stars, tents and campfires. The memory of the slush and snow on the ground was long forgotten while students and their parents cozied up with a good book under the stars.

More photos from Camp Read S’more are available on our Facebook page. 

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Technology, SAMR individualizes instruction

Imagine walking into a classroom where a high school student is annotating and analyzing a passage from a book, while the classmate next to her decides to brush up on last week’s lesson on close reading first.

Look further and you see 15 students working independently at their own pace while another meets with his teacher for some one-on-one help.

Is this level of classroom differentiation possible? It is for high school English teacher Mrs. Pia Caro, who implements technology based learning model using iPads.

Students in Mrs. Caro’s English classes use Google Classroom as a tool to enhance their learning.  Google Classroom lets students ask and answer questions that only Mrs. Caro can see. It also feeds student progress back into an online dashboard that Mrs. Caro uses to tracks her students’ progress in a given lesson. She monitors each students’ progress, giving regular feedback. If a student falls behind or misses a class due to illness or an athletic event, Mrs. Caro can step in and tweak her assignments.

Working in a Google Classroom help students by letting them learn more at their own pace and retain the information being given to them. According to Mrs. Caro, students can, in some ways, absorb more from lectures with technology than they can with just paper and pen. They can download lesson readings, look up unfamiliar concepts on the fly and create accurate, well-organized notes. In addition, if a student is too nervous or embarrassed to ask a question in class, they can refer back to previous materials or reach out to the teacher through e-mail or by adding a private comment in the Google classroom. Not only can students learn the material given, but they can also seek extra help online at their own pace and time, without feeling embarrassed for raising their hand.

Mrs. Caro uses Google Classroom as a hub for resources for students to access online. Video, audio, animation, and other applications and added into her virtual classroom for students to enhance teaching and learning efforts.

Mrs. Caro has been integrating technology in the classroom using iPads to achieve the skills that digital learners need to compete in our global society for years, and has been a pioneer in the SAMR model.

SAMR is a model designed to help educators infuse technology into teaching and learning. Short for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition, the  model supports and enables teachers to design, develop, and infuse digital learning experiences that utilize technology. The goal is to transform learning experiences so they result in higher levels of achievement for students.

Some of the ways that Mrs. Caro redefines typical classroom assignments are through visual essays/collage boards or video/rap presentations instead of a handwritten essay or vocabulary worksheet.

Click here for a helpful explanation on SAMR or read below for some specific examples:

 

Original Project or Lesson:
A hand-written book report turned into the teacher

  • Substitution: Students create book reviews using Google Docs and share them with the teacher.
  • Augmentation: Students use various add-ons for their book reviews, such as speech recognition for voice notes and word prediction.
  • Modification: Students use Google Classroom to post their book reviews, receive peer feedback, and participate in ongoing discussions about their book.
  • Redefinition: Students use a similar free video app to create a 30-60 second book trailer. Working with the technology integration specialist in the school, the students turn the URL of their book trailer into a QR code, and then put their QR code into the book jacket for any student to scan and access the trailer.

 

Original Project or Lesson:
A class presentation on regional animal adaptations.

  • Substitution: Students read various articles online about how animals adapt to their environment.
  • Augmentation: Students choose an animal and work in groups on a shared Google Presentation to research their animal and present their findings to the class.
  • Modification: Students put their presentations on a blog or online classroom to write learning reflections, post comments, and discuss peer learning.
  • Redefinition: Students use Skype in the classroom to meet live with a science museum director to compare/contrast animal adaptations of their region with other animals in other regions of the United States. Prior to the live meeting, they use Google Earth to research various areas and animals of that region to determine what types of adaptations these animals might demonstrate.

Original Project or Lesson:
An overview of a location consisting of hand written content supplemented with compiled cut-and pasted magazine clippings.

  • Substitution: Use presentation software (like PowerPoint or Prezi) to construct a presentation providing information about selected location
  • Augmentation: Incorporate interactive multimedia – audio, video, hyperlinks – in the presentation to give more depth and provide more engaging presentation.
  • Modification: Create a digital travel brochure that incorporates multimedia and student created video.
  • Redefinition: Explore location with Google Earth; seek out and include interviews with people who have visited the location.

Original Project of Lesson:
A report and presentation following a pen-pal exchange with a student from a different country

  • Substitution: Students from different countries meet weekly on a video chat service like Skype or Google Hangouts. They take turns conversing in each other’s native languages, offering suggestions for improvement. Later, they write each other questions and answer them in the different languages.
  • Augmentation: Video chat allows students to see each other’s facial expressions and unspoken cues, as well as interpret context clues.
  • Modification: Students send questions back and forth to each other in a shared Google Document and discuss them in a video chat. That unique combination of suggestions and revisions in real time wouldn’t be possible by with sending letter or making a phone call. In this case, we have changed the task completely.
  • Redefinition: By adding a social media element — students becoming Facebook friends and staying in touch with each other frequently and long-term — the task becomes something that was previously inconceivable.
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Student musicians jazz up the capital

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther proudly welcomed student-musicians from Liberty Middle and High School to Albany as part of the annual “Music in our Schools Month” celebration in New York State.

Choirs, orchestras and bands from across the state travel to Albany throughout the month of March to perform in the concourse of the Empire State Plaza as part of “Music in our Schools Month”.

Performances like these are a terrific showcase for the talent that exists in Liberty schools and other districts throughout the state. It was an honor for our musicians and directors to meet our county legislators and let them hear the results of their hard work.

High school jazz band performs in an all white room. A blue banner with gold lettering in the background reads: NYSSMA

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Initial budget projections call for another year below the cap

Earlier this month, School Business Official Georgia Gonzalez pulled back the curtain on the makings of a budget for 2019-20 that maintains instructional programs and enhances student support systems while staying within the tax cap threshold.

During the March 5 Liberty Board of Education work session, Mrs. Gonzalez presented on a preliminary budget that calls for a 0 percent tax levy increase, which is below the district’s tax levy limit. (Although this is commonly referred to as a “2 percent” cap, the law requires each district to use a multi-part formula to calculate its limit; for Liberty next year, the limit will be 3.84 percent.)

Click here to view the March 5 presentation. 

This would make it the seventh year that the district has stayed below its tax cap.

Developing the budget

The district’s revenue projections for next year’s budget began in February, shortly after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo presented the state budget proposal for next year.

The state’s budget shows Liberty receiving a total state aid allocation of $28,258,032 next year, which represents an increase of $886,627 or 3.24 percent over this year. Most of that increase would come in the form of expense-driven aids, which are reimbursements for money the district already spent on BOCES services, tuition for special education students who attend schools outside of Liberty, transportation and building projects. The governor proposes to increase Liberty’s foundation aid to pay for everyday school operations by $260,218 or 1.51 percent.

Keeping the community informed

Budget development at Liberty will continue until the district adopts its budget on April 23. Mrs. Gonzalez will present additional information on the budget during the board’s March 19, April 9 and April 11 meetings. Regular budget updates will continue to be posted to the district’s website for those who are unable to attend board meetings.

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