School superintendents outline their plans for the New Year

School chiefs in Florida, Greenwood Lake and Warwick address curriculum, security and community engagement

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By Roger Gavan

— At the beginning of this year The Warwick Advertiser contacted the superintendents of the three school districts in the Town of Warwick and invited them to discuss their outlook and plans for the New Year.

We asked what do you expect to accomplish in 2019 that will make a difference in how services are delivered, aid taxpayers or in some other way benefit the public and what obstacles will you face?

We received the following responses:

Florida School District

Superintendent of Schools Jan Jehring:

The district will take significant steps to move forward in 2019.

Safety, security, infrastructure In late February a capital improvement project focused on safety and security, instructional spaces and infrastructure will come before the voters.

Some of the highlights of the proposal include the construction of secure vestibules in each building, improvements to the Alex F. Paul Athletic Fields and many safety upgrades.

The project has been structured to take advantage of state aid and to utilize capital reserves to reduce the local tax impact. Informational sessions for the community will be held in February.

Community workshopsThis year the district will host several workshops for the school community on important topics such as vaping, internet safety and mental health.

We believe by working together as a school community we will be able to address these important issues.

Technology has changed the way schools educate. As a district we will continue to expand on the use of educational technology to provide the best opportunities for students and to prepare them for the future.

School safety is an ongoing challenge facing schools. We will continue to make changes in the infrastructure as well as provide law enforcement and training to strengthen the safety of both schools.

We are determined to offer a fiscally responsible budget to the community and look for fair, equitable state funding for education.

Greenwood Lake School District

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steven R. Cohen:

Greenwood Lake intends to continue to stimulate its children and young adolescents with challenging and engaging problems in a variety of subjects and extracurricular settings.

Greenwood Lake intends to provide a rich and safe emotional and physical environment for our students to become healthy and helpful young adults.

Strengthen communityWe hope to expand upon the programs we offer children and their families by offering meaningful summer learning activities, thereby making Greenwood Lake a more inviting community than it already is.

We intend to make the community's schools accessible to community organizations in safe environments, thereby strengthening and protecting our community.

'The challenge is always present'Tax dollars the community so generously provides to its schools should support the community's organizations and valued activities.

Our budget and programs take note of the fact that children come to school with various needs, and that these needs change as the children and their families change. The challenge is always present to be ready for these changes, and we intend to meet it as best we can.

We also always prepare as best we can to meet new demands from Albany and Washington, even when Albany and Washington do not provide resources to do so."

Warwick Valley School District

Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Leach:

This year promises to be an exciting one for Warwick Valley schools.

The middle school will garner additional attention as we plan for the 2019-20 school year and author an entirely new master schedule. Additionally, we will soon begin to renovate the middle school media center as well as other instructional spaces.

'A cohesive, authentic curriculum'All of our teachers continue to focus on a multi-year project of authoring a cohesive, authentic curriculum. We look forward to publishing examples of our high-quality units of study. It is our firm belief that strengthening and aligning curriculum and instruction is the most important catalyst for improvement in the district.

Increased security; help students stay focusedWhen you visit our schools, you will undoubtedly see a significant increase in security and police personnel and related safety enhancements to all of our school buildings.

At the secondary level, our school prevention coalition teams work to reduce alcohol and drug abuse. These initial measures are essential; however, we would be shortsighted to stop here. We now practice 'mindfulness' training to help students remain calm and focused.

New York's public schools need relief from unfunded mandates to promote a more financially sustainable future.

While these rules are often well-intended, they are very costly to the taxpayer. We operate under regulations not found in other states. They drive up costs significantly; yet, such changes meet resistance often resulting in little relief.

District attracts new familiesSince July 1, 2018, about 100 school-age children have moved to Warwick Valley and enrolled in our schools. Many of these new families have shared with us that the quality of the district was the primary factor in their decision to move to Warwick. Our community will continue to partner to help prepare all of our students for their future."

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