10 Week Update - Mark Laurrie
Dear Community, Staff, and Students:
Ten weeks into the 2018-2019 academic year, I want to report to the community on our District progress toward organizational goals and my goals as Superintendent.
Empire State, 21st Century, and Extended School Day after-school programs are running and student participation is growing daily. These programs not only keep students productive after formal classes have ended, but also offer academic support and recreation programming to all students, K-12, in all District schools.
We have been working hard to address the physical, social, emotional, and mental health needs of students, and are pleased to have mobile health clinics at all schools and mobile dental health clinics at all elementary schools.
In very young grades, we have implemented a tiered, systemic approach to developing young students’ social and emotional functioning, so they can learn and grow at an appropriate rate throughout their school years.
We have expanded mentoring programs that focus on minority males and their specific needs within the district and community.
Through the Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program, all elementary schools now offer fresh produce to ALL STUDENTS, daily, outside of breakfast and lunchtime, to increase fruit and vegetable consumption for our children.
Various emergency drills have been completed at schools and all buildings were inspected by the NF Fire Department for compliance with fire safety codes.
We officially opened a new playground at Cataract Elementary School, thanks to large part to State and Municipal funds from Sen. Robert Ortt.
We have endeavored to engage the community more fully with the District by inviting participation in a community read, hosting a Speaker Series, honoring Outstanding Alumni and opening our first “Schoolseum.” We also held our first theater production to feature current students and alumni on one stage and hosted our annual Dads Take Your Child To School Day event. Work also continues with our Family Community Engagement Grant; ultimately, this program’s goal is to increase family engagement in student education.
Work continues at Kalfas Magnet School relating to the new “Windows to the World” theme. Niagara University and Buffalo State College students are assisting in classrooms on theme-based lessons, and a committee comprised of Kalfas staff members, community representatives, parents, and higher education staff members continues to meet to design a school that celebrates multi-culturalism.
Instructional highlights include new resources for Grades 6-8 ELA and Math classes, and the GO Math! program, which includes a variety of materials for instruction and individualized remediation for students.
English teachers are going digital – the majority of books students will read, and most of the writing they will do, will be on District student lap top computers – no pens or pencils needed! NWEA testing was completed. Special Education Department meeting were held, updating Individual Education Plans and Specially Designed Instruction.
Finally, I am pleased to report to taxpayers that Standard & Poor’s (S & P) Global Ratings raised its rating on the Niagara Falls City School District general obligation debt outstanding one notch to ‘A-’ from ‘BBB+’, citing a history of positive year-end operating results, strong total fund balance levels and budgetary flexibility; and a moderate debt level. We have worked hard and have never in the last 30 years had a bond rating of A -. This is a testament to both the staff and the Board of Education, and the community should be well pleased.
We look forward to the next 10 weeks and invite you to follow our progress and be involved.
Mark Laurrie, Superintendent of Schools