May 21, 2013—Glens Falls City School District residents approved the 2013-14 school budget today by a margin of 730 "yes" votes to 192 “no” votes – a 79 percent approval rate. The $38.3 million spending plan represents a budget-to-budget spending decrease of $660,465, or 1.7 percent. The approved budget uses $1.7 million in savings from previous years to keep the tax levy increase to 2.5 percent for next school year. Nearly 15 staff and teaching positions are eliminated within the proposal. Some of the district’s special education, health services, and enrichment programs are being restructured into new delivery models.
Voters also approved expenditures from the capital reserve fund for repairs and renovations at several of the district’s school buildings, and the purchase of a replacement school bus. The capital reserve proposition passed by a vote of 728 to 181; the school bus purchase proposition passed by a vote of 665 to 248.
Jeremy Deason and Leslee Kunst were elected to the Board of Education. Mr. Deason will begin a five-year term on July 1, 2013, after receiving 666 votes. Ms. Kunst will begin a four-year term on May 22, 2013, to fill a vacancy that occurred earlier this year. Ms. Kunst received 175 write-in votes.
Paul Trackey and Hunter Montgomery – both fifth-graders at Glens Falls Middle School – were winners in this year’s American Association of University Women essay contest. The winners were chosen from more than 500 essays submitted by students at several local school districts.
Each student’s essay described a notable woman in history. Paul focused on Harriet Tubman and wrote, "She has inspired many people, including me, to help others in need of guidance… We shouldn't help others because we expect a reward, as the reward is the little spark of joy and happiness inside of us." Hunter wrote about Serena Williams after taking up tennis himself last year, and being inspired by Serena while watching her compete. “Hunter’s essay on Serena Williams was outstanding,” says teacher Amity Luce-Aurilio. “He received 103%. (Three extra points for typing.)”
In the photo at right, contest winners and honorees Paul Trackey, Hunter Montgomery, Dylan Petterson, Sam Bordeau, Sarah Phinney, Alex Dickey, Hannah Walsh, and Kaylee Frank gather with fifth-grade teachers Amity Luce-Aurilio and Mary Lea Raymond.
What would you ask President Abraham Lincoln, if you had the opportunity to interview him? That was the question posed to students in an essay contest sponsored by the Iroquois Reading Council and The Chronicle – and GFMS sixth-graders Samantha Lunt and Drew Floyd have some of the best ideas in the area.
Drew and Samantha were two of ten students in the area who were selected as contest winners for their insightful questions. “They were invited to participate in an afternoon at The Chronicle were they learned the workings of a newspaper and interviewed a "mystery guest" (Eric Gilbert of the Great Escape),” said teacher Mary Hunter. “The students then wrote their own stories which were later shared at a dinner at the Crandall Library where families and teachers were invited to join in.”
Fifth-grader Ella Wolfstitch has also been recently honored for designing the winning poster in the Warren County Health Services’ “Tar Wars” 2013 Tobacco-Free poster contest. Her poster represents GFMS at a statewide competition, and will be featured in a tobacco-free calendar being distributed to all fourth- and fifth-graders in Warren County.
Glens Falls City School District is recognizing national Teacher Appreciation Week by recognizing committed and enthusiastic teachers from every one of our schools each day this week.
Tuesday's honoree is special education teacher Melissa Rajeski, who works with students at the Middle School. READ MORE HERE
Check back every day for a look inside some of the most dynamic classrooms around our district.
Nearly a hundred Middle School students and staff members joined organizations across the country in riding to school for International Bike to School Day on Wednesday, May 8.
Incentives for Glens Falls students to bicycle to school included cycling-themed raffle items provided by Grey Ghost Bicycles, Inside Edge, and Rick’s Bike Shop. 97 bikes were parked in the middle school’s gym on Wednesday, with additional bikes lining the racks on the school’s lawn. “I was very proud to see the number of students who wore their helmet, said Coach Kevin Crossman, who helped organize the event. “I have a feeling this will be much bigger next year.”
P.J. Motsiff's fifth-grade class had more than half of students participating in bike-to-school day, and won a pizza party for the effort. The event raises awareness of increased physical activity among children, pedestrian safety, and concerns for the environment. Additional details are available at www.walkbiketoschool.org.
Glens Falls Mayor John “Jack” Diamond recently spent an afternoon talking about potential visions for the city with some creative and invested citizens—seventh-graders from GFMS, who have presented their growth ideas to City Hall.
“A few months back, I read an article from the Post Star to the kids about the revitalization of downtown Glens Falls, which in turn generated some interesting discussion,” says English language arts teacher Rob Manning. “I had the kids write a response to the question, ‘what business would you personally like to see come into our town?’ We had some really cool and insightful ideas. One of the students suggested we send the ideas to the mayor. So, we wrote business letters to the mayor with their suggestions.”
Students were excited to have the mayor visit the school and talk about revitalization efforts. “The cool thing is that the kids are genuinely excited about their hometown and what’s going on here,” says Mr. Manning. “Whenever there are articles about revitalization, potential business development or growth, I make it point to share it with them.”
"We see much greater rigor at all levels, and we anticipate assessments to be more challenging.” Those were two of the key points presented at the March 26 Common Core Parent Information Night, which explained how the new COMMON CORE LEARNING STANDARDS are a first step in providing young people with the high-quality education that will prepare them for success in college and careers.
The new standards in English Language Arts (ELA) and Math were fully implemented in September, and the first year of testing on the new grades 3-8 curriculum begins on April 16.
Last week, facilitators from WSWHE BOCES explained what’s different about the Common Core:
In English Language Arts/Literacy: a focus on non-fiction and careful reading; student ability to discuss reading and write using evidence; and increased academic vocabulary.
In Mathematics: students learn more about fewer concepts; focus on skill building, speed and accuracy; and use real world examples to better understand concepts.
A FIELD MEMO from the State Education Dept. noted that “student scores on the Common Core assessments will not be directly comparable to scores from prior-year tests because the assessments are based on different, more rigorous standards.” To see an example of how tests have changed, compare a 2005 SAMPLE TEST FOR GRADE 3 ELA with a 2013 SAMPLE TEST FOR GRADE 3 ELA.How can families prepare? One of many helpful resources on wwww.EngageNY.org is the handout WHAT PARENTS CAN DO TO HELP THEIR CHILDREN LEARN, an outline that explains what students will be asked to accomplish related to the shifts in ELA and math, and suggests ways parents can reinforce the new skills at home. READ MORE ON THE COMMON CORE PAGE OF GFSD.ORG
Middle school students explored a range of scientific questions this winter, from whether energy drinks help or hurt concentration to whether or not temperature affects the quality of nail polish. The seventh- and eighth-grade science fair took place on March 12, and students have been busy for months.
“This year we gave students a choice between performing traditional science experiment or taking on an engineering/design challenge, so there were a variety of each,” says middle school science teacher Patricia Nixon. “Some students have designed better fishing nets to prevent shark death, designed a remote control garbage can, tested how much people are biased based on looks, tested the effect of video games on aggressive behavior, tested the effects of texting while driving during a video game, and tested the effect of music on learning,” Ms. Nixon continued.
Beginning in November, students formed a hypothesis, determined dependent and independent variables, created procedures and data tables, and performed background research, complete with works cited in MLA format to tie into the Common Core State Standards, said science faculty members.
Eighth-grader Abby Krause wanted to find out what smell is most popular to humans. She performed a “small test” on nearly 100 people to determine which combination of scents was reported as most pleasing. “The winning smell was a combination I created with pina colada, fresh-squeezed orange and Georgia peach,” she said.
Another student studied the efficacy of using dish soap to reduce the effects of oil spills on sea life--using Elodea, an aquatic plant that lives entirely underwater, and two water tanks with various combinations of dish soap and motor oil.
Students presented all their findings to their peers and the community at Thursday night’s fair, which got hundreds of visitors. “Their research projects are an excellent way to practice the scientific methods that are useful in life, and part of the NYS Intermediate Science Standards,” said science teacher Jason Brechko.
This winter, students have been learning Latin dance moves in the high school and middle school gym, thanks to the instruction of professional dancer Johnny Martinez from Tango Fusion in Saratoga. A scholarship from the Adirondack Chapter of U.S. Dance and funding from the BOCES Arts in Education grant brought Mr. Martinez to Glens Falls City Schools for two 4-day series of dance instruction for more than 640 students in grades 6-12.
"The high school physical education department hopes that this experience will provide our students with an appreciation for a form of organized social dance that they may have never experienced before,” says PE teacher Michele Venditto. “As a lifetime activity, dance offers many social and health benefits."
“I actually heard a lot of students say, ‘This isn't as difficult as I thought it would be,’ and ‘This is more fun than I thought!’" added PE teacher Laura Uhly. “I think the students learned about interacting socially in different ways than they are used to—dancing together instead of using technology to interact, and also learned some cultural differences between Latin countries and the US. Overall, it was a very positive experience.”
Students gathered for a large-group performance by Mr. Martinez and partner Diane Lachtrupp Martinez—along with several Glens Falls students—at the conclusion of the units. Tony Farrar and Cheryl Humphrey from Adirondack U.S. Dance were instrumental in bringing this program to GFSD.
More student artwork is on exhibit at a local restaurant in Glens Falls.
Pizza Jerks in Hannaford Plaza began featuring the work of student-artists in grades six through eight earlier this year.
Most recently on display were works from sixth-graders Scotty Jones and Connor Griffith that expressed their views of what a dragon looks like.
Other student-artists’ work is part of the most recent exhibit as well.