Editor's note: The Warwick Advertiser asked the top officials at the Greenwood Lake, Florida and Warwick Valley school districts for their assessment of what's ahead for students and taxpayers in the new year. Here's what they said:
Florida School Superintendent
1. What do you expect during 2020 in terms of growth and/or development? Are there local projects on the horizon? Improvements to infrastructure? New businesses?
As outlined in the $7.9 million capital improvement project approved by Florida UFSD voters on Feb. 26, 2019, the district will begin related construction beginning the spring of 2020.
The first phase will involve a secure entrance vestibule in each school, safety upgrades and the reconstruction of the athletic fields at Golden Hill.
The second phase of the project is expected to be completed by fall of 2021.
We look forward to addressing building repair needs, enhancing learning spaces to reflect innovation in instruction, and making the schools safer and more secure.
2. What will be the most important and/or critical issue (or problem) you and the residents of your community will face in the new year? What can you do about it?
• Like school districts across the country, a primary concern and responsibility is the physical and emotional safety of students and staff. In addition to safety-minded policies, plans and practices, we are taking a district-wide approach to enhancing social and emotional wellness.
• Recognizing that we serve and depend on our community, we will continue to strengthen communication with residents and school families through online and print publications. We value and consistently seek opportunities to be an active part of the community and are making that an integral part of the strategic planning process.
• The district remains committed to providing all students with engaging teaching and learning experiences through innovative instructional approaches.
Greenwood Lake School Superintendent
Greenwood Lake UFSD has recently submitted plans to SED to install security vestibules at our main entrances and redesign the main office areas in both schools. The security vestibules will enable our security officers to screen visitors before granting them access to the building.
Redesigning the main office suites creates more functional and efficient main office areas that will allow building administrators and their teams to have greater access to each other. This work is set to occur during summer 2020.
To improve our school’s physical security, we are working toward getting state funding, through the Smart Schools Bond, to upgrade our elementary school classroom doors from wood to steel. As a part of this project, we will also install new classroom locks with card access control throughout the District. All of the classroom doors will be equipped with a card reader and deadbolt mortice lock that will also add another layer of security.
After deciding not to expand the size of our elementary school cafeteria due to ongoing water infiltration issues, our District is working to redesign the plans for the kitchen and dining room areas. This project will increase the kitchen’s ability to process fresh foods, add a single use bathroom on the cafeteria level and improve the function and aesthetics of the serving line and dining area.
2. Later this winter and in early spring, we will be launching our "2020 Vision for 2030" initiative. We will be inviting all stakeholders (teachers, staff, students, parents and community members) to help us shape the vision and plan for our District over the next ten years. The focus will be on maintaining our strong, well-rounded curriculum while addressing the decrease in population. In addition, we will be brainstorming ideas for what we want our schools to look like in ten years, so that we may plan future capital projects.
Dr. David Leach
Warwick Valley Superintendent of Schools
1. We will complete the Warwick Valley Portrait of a Graduate project this spring, which prioritizes the skills and attributes that all students need to thrive as learners, workers, and citizens. The District will work along with the Tri-State Consortium, a prestigious network of some of the highest-achieving public school districts in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, to further strengthen and align the curriculum and instruction as these steps are the essential catalysts for improvement in the District.
We are also reviewing our homework policy with teachers, students, and parents to ensure assignments are meaningful and practical.
Finally, the District has reached out to knowledgeable community members who possess expertise about the optimal maintenance of natural grass fields.
2. Emotions play a critical role in our learning, decision-making, and overall wellness. The District will continue to partner with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence to foster the social and emotional learning of all students and adults in the school community.
Throughout the country, schools remain very concerned with student vaping, underage drinking, illegal drug use, and the abuse of prescription medications. While the District has a comprehensive prevention plan and partners with Warwick Valley Prevention Coalition, we all must do more for our children.
The Board of Education will hold a public work session to discuss these challenges on Jan. 27 at 7 p.m.