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Carol's Corner

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Letter from the Superintendent

June 2016

Dear Parents, Guardians and Community Members,

As the 2015-16 school year draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on the year, thinking about where
we are currently and looking ahead to 2016-17.

A look back

This year presented some unique challenges as we rolled out new technology, struggled with the
possibility of dealing with one of the largest budget gaps we faced in years, dealt with student issues,
both small and large, seen people come and go, and negotiated contracts. Yet through all the ups and
downs, we are ending the year strong, Schalmont Strong.

We kicked off the school year with a discussion about who owns the learning. When renowned
educational technology leader Alan November was able to join us in the spring, he expanded on
concepts we have just begun to explore and challenged us to continue changing the educational
landscape, to be pioneers in innovative teaching methods and to forge global connections in the
classrooms and at home. Our students experienced having their own Chromebooks and learned about
digital literacy, a new learning management system for assignments, and new e-texts for learning.

Our students continued to demonstrate their talents and skills this year in many ways. From the wellattended
concerts throughout the year, to the drama club productions, Java Jive, the annual art show at
BOCES, to the talent shows at the middle school and Jefferson, Schalmont students demonstrated a
great passion and aptitude for the arts.

Our athletic teams continued to prove the Sabres are a force to be reckoned with, as many teams
continued into post-season playoffs, and the girls’ varsity soccer team brought home the state title! Our
athletes proved to also be academic scholars and were recognized throughout the year for their
achievement in the classroom as well.

Our student organizations worked hard year-round, not only to benefit the school but the community as
well, through fundraisers, food drives, donations and more.

Where we are now

We have already witnessed how increased access to technological tools have inspired not only our own
students and teachers but teachers and administrators from other regional districts who have visited
our schools this year to observe our technology in action. Some members of our technology cabinet met
recently with professors at the University of Albany to pursue a possible partnership with them in
technology and 21st century collaboration. The professors were highly impressed with our plan and
more is yet to come as we continue to set the pace in education innovation!

Student success continued outside the classroom as clubs and organizations worked to make a
difference. As a result, Schalmont High School is now designated a “No Place for Hate” school. The high
school environmental club started an ongoing recycling program, and the middle school craft and
environmental club recently planted a vegetable garden that will continue to produce plants into the
fall. These are just a few examples of the many positive efforts our students continue to put forth.

The Schalmont community approved a school budget and passed two propositions allowing us to
continue to replace buses and purchase property that will be used as a second form of emergency
egress from the MS/HS campus. This is a goal the safety committee has been aiming toward for several
years. With the help of many, we saw an increased voter turn-out with more than 350 voters coming out
than last year! I sincerely thank our community for continuing to support our students through the vote.

With the highest graduation rate in the county, the majority of our senior class is preparing to continue
their educational careers at two- or four-year colleges this fall. Several students have won community,
state and national scholarships and awards. We wish them the best as they move forward in life and
smile a little at the thought that we, as a district, played a role in getting them to this point and
preparing them for the road ahead.

Planning for the future

I have no doubt this momentum of innovation and success will continue into the next school year and
beyond as we progress with the implementation of our technology and strategic plans, which will help
provide the tools and technology necessary to support out-of-the-box instruction.

We will continue to implement the one-to-one program for our incoming freshmen, and all sixth-graders
will again learn about the cyber world and their digital footprint in digital literacy classes. As the sixth
grade students move into 7th grade, they will have access to Chromebook carts to use in all their subject
areas. Our younger students will learn keyboarding and basic computer skills as well. All students will
have increased access to technology as we continue to expand our cutting-edge educational efforts.

Our new learning management system, Schoology, will expand to include a full menu of options for
parents and students to stay up on student information and student performance in real time. Our
shared decision making teams at the secondary level are working to revitalize their efforts and to set
goals and action plans for school improvement at the building level and a new middle school task force
will form to research school structures and schedules for an aligned 5-8 school.

Moving forward we will also officially begin a search for a new principal for the middle school. This is an
important process that will take time as we want to be certain we find the perfect match for the school
community. In the meantime, our middle school students are in good hands with Interim Principal Brian
Sherman, who has a wealth of knowledge and experience to bring to the table.

As always, safety remains a top priority for our students and staff.

The district safety committee currently has plans in the works for the next school year to continue to
make sure all staff and students are aware of what to do in the event of an emergency. They will
continue to review drill responses, our emergency plans, and the general safety of the students and
security of the buildings. Our solar energy plan will be put into place with new solar panels being
installed on the MS/HS campus. When this takes place, then the secondary exit road will also be built to
allow another access point in and out of our campus in emergencies.

The facilities committee and the board of education will continue to explore ways of making our
buildings and grounds safer and more effective. Discussions that have already begun will continue
through the summer, leading up to a possible capital project vote in the fall of 2016 that would allow us
to make some repairs and renovations related to building safety. These include infrastructure upgrades
at all three schools, a new and safer entryway at the high school, and remodeling and repairing our
transportation building at the current site. For now, due to the conditions of our current transportation
facility, we plan to lease a nearby facility and house our buses and personnel there. We hope to make
this move over the summer and be in place for the start of school in September. Stay tuned for
upcoming meetings and information related to the facilities project as we move forward with final
recommendations.

While you enjoy your summer vacation, please know we remain hard at work here at Schalmont, as we
prepare for the next school year. This includes taking time for professional development in technology
integration, student engagement, inquiry based lessons and much more. Teachers will update
curriculum, teach summer school and be back to coach athletics before you know it. Administrators are
here all summer and spend time also in professional development opportunities, required trainings and
planning for school improvements and opening school for another year in September.

If you ever have any concerns, questions, or comments, my door is open, even during the summer. I am
also always available to talk to community members after board meetings. And, of course I, and every
other Schalmont staff member, can be reached at any time through email or by phone.

I encourage you to reach out to me, the teachers, or the administrators anytime you have any questions,
comments, or concerns. We will listen. My direct number is 355-9200, extension 4001 or you can email
me at cpallas@schalmont.net. Contact information for all district employees is located on our website.
You can keep up with happenings this summer by following me on Twitter, which is a great avenue for
two-way communications, should you wish to engage with me.

Information will also be posted on the district website, Facebook and district Twitter account.
Be on the lookout for a summer newsletter in your mailboxes next month, and the district calendar will
be mailed out to parents in August.

I wish you a happy and safe summer, and I look forward to seeing you back here in September!

Sincerely,

Dr. Carol A. Pallas

Schalmont Superintendent