Budget season is underway

While much of the local media coverage surrounding school budgets typically appears throughout the months of April and May, the development of the district’s annual spending plan is a year-long process.

December

Budget season progresses with several public information sessions led by the district’s business manager.  Community members are encouraged to share their input and ask questions.

January – February

The governor presents his proposed budget for the 2019-20 school year, including projected figures for school aid.

The board of education, school administrators and business manager will get their first sense of state aid revenues.

The district’s budget development will continue; potential changes and reductions will be discussed and taken into consideration.

March

Throughout the month, district residents and members of the Board are encouraged to review, ask questions, and voice opinions about the proposed budget.

You should know

  • The Liberty Board of Education will meet on March 5, March 19, April 9, April 11, April 23, May 7 at 7 p.m. in the high school’s media center.

April

After months of budget work with district staff and community members, the board of education will come to an agreement for the proposed spending plan.

You should know

  • Copies of the adopted budget will be made available for the public and can be obtained after April 25 in each school building’s main office as well as the Liberty Public Library.
  • Absentee ballots will be available beginning mid-April and throughout the month of May.

May

District residents will head to the polls on Tuesday, May 21.

You should know

  • The district’s budget newsletter will be sent to residents on or around May 14.

June

If the budget is defeated, the board of education may put up the same or a modified budget for a revote or adopt a contingency budget, which allows no increase in the tax levy and restricts certain expenditures. The same rules regarding the district’s tax levy limit apply for a revote.

You should know

  • A revote, if needed, is held the third Tuesday in June.
  • If the budget is defeated, the board of education must adopt a contingency budget.

Students CATCH an active lifestyle with Bee Moser

The district would like to extend its thanks to nutritionist Bee Moser of Cornell Cooperative Extension and Eat Smart New York for her work through the Catch Kids program.

The Catch Kids program is a new after school program for students who attend the Boys and Girls Club. Catch Kids that focuses on physical activity and healthy eating. Currently, elementary school members meet on Tuesdays and middle school members meet on Thursdays from 4-5 p.m.

“The CATCH after school program curriculum is an interactive way to get kids moving while giving them the ability to identify healthy foods. We focus on having fun,” Ms. Moser said.  “[The students] play games while learning about the importance of exercise and healthy food.”

The goal of the program, she said, is to create behavior changes.

“It is beautiful to see how much kids are into learning about healthy lifestyles. It is heartwarming to me when I come back each week and have kids lining in up to tell me what healthy thing they’ve begun to incorporate in their life, from a healthy fruit or vegetable to a little bit of extra walking or playing,” she said.

A guide to temperature related school closings

When very cold weather strikes, the district receives many questions from families and staff asking whether school will be delayed or closed due to cold temperatures or wind chill alone.

Under certain conditions, the superintendent  may determine that school should be delayed or closed for the safety of the district’s students and staff.

Weather conditions across the district can vary greatly due changes in elevation. The temperature, wind chill factor and the the safety of children who walk to school are also considered.

We rely on guidance from the National Weather Service to make our
decisions.  Their guidelines into account the amount of time it takes for exposed skin to develop frostbite based on the wind chill and temperature.

When temperatures do not warrant closing, families can help their
children prepare for the weather by dressing them warmly, in
layers, with a hat, scarf, gloves and appropriate footwear.

During colder months, the district makes some adjustments in
response to the weather to ensure students and staff are safe and
as comfortable as possible:

  • Rolling V, our transportation provider, begins preparing district buses as early as 4 a.m. to make sure the engines start and heaters work so that students have as warm a ride to school as possible. Drivers are careful to arrive at bus stops as close to “on time” as possible;
  •  Custodial and maintenance staff ensures temperatures inside classrooms are comfortable and are on standby to respond to any facilities issues that may arise; and
  • Recess and all physical education activities are held indoors.

Instructional time is valuable for all of our students to be able to achieve at the highest levels. We hope that this information is helpful for our students, families and staff to know more about our decision-making process and the steps we can all take to continue our teaching and learning even when it’s very cold out.

Construction continues at athletic fields

Construction at the high school athletic field

While most of us dread the frigid temps, Facilities Director Albert DeMarmels is feeling thankful for the recent cold snap. The previously soggy ground is now dry and firm, which means the athletic field work is moving full speed ahead.

Construction at Liberty High School continues as part of the district’s field improvement project, approved by district voters last fall that will replace two drain lines and add perimeter draining around the school’s baseball, soccer and softball fields.

To date, drain lines and catch basins have been installed and the new soiled has been tested for sufficient compaction. The perimeter draining is approximately 75 percent complete.

Mr. DeMarmels is hopeful that the field will be open in time for our spring athletes to play a few games on their home field.

Students, staff participate in Miles of Hope

On Friday, Oct. 19, the staff and students in the Liberty Central School district participated in the Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation fundraiser. Students and staff in Liberty’s three school were asked to wear pink and to donate $1 to Miles of Hope.

The official “final” counts are in:

Elementary School: $447.80
Middle School : $222.50
High School National Honor Society: $150.90
Grand Total: $821.20

The students and staff of the Liberty Central School District participate in several fundraisers each year supporting cancer research.

Picture of LES Staff poses during Miles of Hope
LES Staff poses during Miles of Hope
Picture of pink socks for Miles of Hope
“Yes, I do wear pink!”
Picture of students wearing pink for Miles of Hope
Students wear pink for Miles of Hope

 

District sends goodies to deployed teacher

From Spectrum News:

John Chewens is deployed in the Middle East as a member of the military. He is also a teacher and coach at Liberty Middle School.

His students wanted to show that they are thinking of him, so they’ve collected snacks and coffee and other supplies. School officials say students who don’t even know Mr. Chewens want to send items to show their appreciation.

“Our service men and women, they really put their lives on the line for us,” said said Liberty Central School District Superintendent Dr. Augustine Tornatore. “And this was their way of giving back to him. It really started off as taking a look at sending one care package and it just kind of grew. And we had other buildings in the district involved as well, so we were really fortunate that this has been such a successful endeavor.”

Students sent about 40 letters, and Chewens already received one care package. A second box is on its way, and there are still two more to be shipped.

 

Read the full article and video interview here. 

District provides relevant, targeted professional development at Conference Day

Providing its faculty with professional development is a priority for the Liberty Central School District, which holds six Superintendent’s Conference Day sessions each school year.

During the district’s Oct. 5 Conference Day, teachers and staff from each school building participated in professional development sessions targeted to their specialty areas.

The day’s lectures, presentations and workshops paid particular attention on two important issues that are both timely and impact safety in schools: active shooter training and bleeding control basics.

The remainder of the day focused on professional improvement topics such as efficient use of technology in the classroom and data collection.

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

Strassman to retire as educator but not as role model

One of Liberty Central School District’s respected educators is hanging up his badge. After 20+ years of arriving early, staying late and greeting students and teachers with a handshake and a smile, revered Liberty’s Middle/High School Principal Jack Strassman will be leaving at the close of this school year.

A fixture in the district for 23 years, Mr. Strassman has always been a spokesperson for Liberty Pride. He bleeds red and white. His students, staff and colleagues love him, have learned from him and will miss him tremendously.

Mr. Strassman started his career in education in 1979. He worked in New York City before joining the Liberty community as elementary school principal in 1995. During his tenure at Liberty, he’s served as elementary school co-principal and middle school co-principal, middle school principal and high school principal before becoming the sole principal of the middle and high school.

Mr. Strassman is the epitome of what it means to do your job with consistency and a genuine love for a school and community. If you were to ask him what his best memories at Liberty were, you’d need to block off an entire day to listen to his stories.

In fact, his office is steeped in Liberty history from top to bottom. In his gallery of Liberty relics, he proudly displays photographs, newspaper clippings, awards and accolades, student artwork and letters, graduation programs, yearbooks, gifts and other memorabilia.

“I just remember having lots of fun and being so proud,” Mr. Strassman said as he flipped through old photos and school memorabilia, recognizing names and faces from 15+ years ago. “I think your best moments are when your school, your faculty, your staff and your students are recognized.”

Everyone remembers the teachers who inspired them to pursue greatness/ Instead, Mr. Strassman remembers the students who inspired him. He reflects often on the classes that he had the pleasure of growing with from elementary to middle to high school. Some of them he’s still quite close with and many of them he hired as teachers.

Now he’s getting ready to retire. But don’t think he’s going sit at home relaxing. Walking, hiking and catching a baseball game are among his favorite activities, but he’ll be doing much more than that. He has plans to hike the red rock canyons in Utah, sample the freshest foods in California and catch some rays in Florida.

With heavy hearts, teachers, students and their families will bid farewell to Mr. Strassman on graduation day, June 23.

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