Tag Archives: Board of Education

Vote on May 16, 2017

Polls will be open from 7am to 9pm on May 16, 2017 for the Kingston City School District Board of Education and School Budget Election.  Voting takes place in the local elementary schools.  If you can not remember where you vote for the school elections, click here.

Read details about the proposed school budget for 2017-2018 and the proposition to use capital reserve funds to renovate Meagher here.

Five candidates are running for three seats on the KCSD Board of Education.  Hear from each candidate and pose your questions to them at Meet the Candidates Night on Tuesday May 9, 2017 6:30pm at Kingston High School.

Your voice matters

KCSD BOE Resolution to withdraw recognition and support of District Wide Parents’ Council

The KCSD Board of Education presented resolution BOE34 at the September 7, 2016 meeting and the resolution also appears on the agenda for tonight’s meeting September 21, 2016.

BOE34 – DWPC

WHEREAS, in 2002, the Board of Education approved a resolution recognizing and supporting the PTAs, PTOs and the District-Wide Parents’ Council; and

WHEREAS, the Board desires to modify its position with respect to such recognition and support;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Education hereby withdraws it recognition and support of the District-Wide Parents’ Council and will no longer consider such organization to be a school-related organization.

If you believe in the mission of the District Wide Parents’ Council or have benefited from the organization, please attend the meeting to speak during public comment this evening.  Public comment will begin at 7pm.  If you can not attend, please email your comment to the KCSD BOE members.

Please share the value/benefit of District Wide Parents’ Council and any suggestions you have for increasing the value to parents and/or making it easier for parents to participate as part of the District Wide Parents’ Council.

Mission of District Wide Parents’ Council:
  • To provide an opportunity for the parents of the district to share ideas and mutual concerns.
  • To provide on-going communication among the parents of the Kingston City School District, Central Administration, and Board of Education, and further, to provide support for parents as effective communicators with clarification of proper channels when needed.
  • To keep all parents informed of school districts policies and issues.
  • To endorse, recommend, and collaborate upon initiatives which have been agreed upon by a majority present and voting at school parent group meetings.

Resolution BOE34 was discussed on Sept 7 and then the second was withdraw so a vote was not taken.  Two Board of Education members have indicated they will pull BOE34 from the consent agenda for discussion tonight.

Here is the September 7, 2016 BOE meeting video.   Discussion of BOE34 begins at 41:20 in the video and concludes at 1:03:31.

For anyone not familiar with how the consent agenda works, all resolutions on the consent agenda are voted on together.  If a board member wishes to discuss a resolution on the consent agenda, they must ask for the resolution to be ‘pulled’ from the consent agenda.  If BOE34 was not removed from the consent agenda, there would have been no discussion by the board and the resolution would have been passed along with all the other resolutions on the consent agenda.  To my knowledge, the only announcement of resolution BOE34 that was made was an article in the Daily Freeman on September 8, 2016.

In the interest of full disclosure, please be aware that I served for five years as co-chairwoman of District Wide Parents’ Council and have served as the DWPC representative for Edson Elementary School, Bailey Middle School and Kingston High School.  I believe very strongly in the value of District Wide Parents’ Council and want to see the organization continue as a part of the Kingston City School District.  I will be sharing further personal comments at the BOE meeting tonight.

kcsd-boe-agenda-sept-7-2016

KCSD 2016-2017 Calendar

Hard to believe that school starts next Tuesday September 6, 2016.

Note that the KCSD BOE posted a change to the school calendar being considered for November 8, 2016 (Superintendent’s Conference Day due to the elections on Nov 8).  Check it out and watch for a final decision after the September 7 Board of Education meeting.  The link also has a copy of the updated school calendar so you can check out other days off school.

Here is the link if you still need to find out bus schedule information or school start/end times.

Input on the KCSD Budget for 2016-2017

The Kingston City School District draft budget for 2016-2017 was presented to the Board of Education last Wednesday.  At the next Board of Education meeting on April 20, the board will be voting to approve the budget that will be presented to the voters on May 17, 2016.

You have between now and April 20 to examine the budget and ask questions and/or voice your opinion to the school board members regarding spending priorities and the key ingredients in a KCSD education.

The District Wide Parents Council (DWPC) is having an additional meeting next Friday 4/15, at the Cioni Building, 61 Crown Street 9:30am -11am to discuss questions and concerns about the draft budget.  A representative from the District Business Office has been invited to answer questions.  If you have specific questions about the budget, get them to me (Jolyn) by Tuesday April 12 and I will forward them to the DWPC corresponding secretary for inclusion with other questions being compiled in advance of the 4/15 meeting.

All are welcome to attend the DWPC meeting on April 15. UPDATE Meeting canceled.

Resources and events related to the KCSD budget:

  • Budget presentation/highlights on the KCSD web site including the draft version of the KCSD 2016-2017 budget, a summary and several presentations about the draft budget and video of the various community budget forums as well as the April 6 Board of Education meeting
  • Rescheduled digital budget forum – Tuesday April 12, 2016 11:15am -11:45am  Visit this page to learn how to participate in the digital budget forum
  • Coffee and Conversation with Board of Education members – Tuesday April 12, 2016 6pm New Progressive Baptist Church
  • Coffee and Conversation with Board of Education members – Thursday April 14, 2016 8:30am Uptown Coffee
  • DWPC questions/answer meeting about the 2016-17 draft budget – Friday April 15, 2016 9:30am – 11:00am
  • District wide Budget Vote – Tuesday May 17, 2016

Your voice matters

School Boards

On May 17, 2016 voters in the Kingston City School District will be electing three members to the school board.

With the upcoming election in mind, check out this excellent description of the responsibilities of both the school board and the community with regards to public education.  The author Alice Wellborn is a school psychologist who writes to strengthen parent/teacher partnerships.

The structure of American public education is grounded in local control, and that control is administered through a locally elected (or, in some cases, appointed) Board of Education.  Citizens (or their elected representatives) select school board members, who then oversee the public schools and serve as the liaison between the community and the school system.

Community members can express their ideas and opinions about public education through voting, communicating directly with school board members, attending board meetings, or even running for the school board.

Note that while Ms. Wellborn refers to some school board members being paid, school board members in Kingston are volunteers and do not receive payment for their service.  You will also find other relevant information in my Parent Guide to Kingston Board of Education Meetings.

Anyone wishing to run for a seat on the KCSD board of education should contact District Clerk Camille DiPerna at cdiperna@kingstoncityschools.org or (845) 943-3009 to obtain a candidate packet.

Board of Education sees need for change

The Patchogue-Medford school district Board of Education passed the following resolution on February 4, 2016. What an awesome example that other school boards could follow!
 
Whereas, the current Chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents will be stepping-down in the Spring of 2016 and two positions on the Board of Regents will be subject to appointments beginning in April of 2016, and
Whereas, the members of the New York State Legislature are empowered with making appointments to the Board of Regents and the members of the Board of Regents are empowered with electing their Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor, and
Whereas, the Board of Education of the Patchogue-Medford Union Free School District sees the need for change in the way public education in New York State is managed, be it
Resolved, that the Board of Education calls upon those legislators who are responsible for said appointments and those regents who will be choosing their leaders to assure the people of the state that the entire Board of Regents, especially the new regents , chancellor and vice-chancellor:
1. Be aware of and sympathetic to the concerns of parents of children in grades K though 12.
2. Understand that the Common Core Standards are chronologically and developmentally inappropriate.
3. Understand that high stakes testing benefits no student or teacher.
4. Support the notion that local control of education is essential to providing quality education for the children of the State of New York.
5. Support multiple pathways for children to achieve a high school diploma.
6. Advocate for Special Needs students and make the evaluation process fairer by reinstating the Regents Competency Tests.
7. Advocate for English Language Learners, as the Common Core has no provisions for them.
8. Lead, by example, in support of the public education system and trained professional educators who know that a “one size fits all” educational system is not beneficial to any student.
9. Be willing to continue moving forward to appropriate changes to and removal of the flawed Annual Professional Performance Review system and the untested, never-piloted Common Core Standards.
10. Be leaders, open to new and diverse ways and means suggested by the people of New York State and willing implement these strategies, when proven meaningful.
11. Be accessible to the general public and willing to meet with diverse groups around the state, in dialogue, about current educational issues.
and be it further
Resolved, that the District Clerk is directed to send this Resolution to the members of the New York State Legislature and the members of the New York State Board of Regents.

KCSD Transgender policy

The Kingston City School District Board of Education Policy Committee is working on a policy regarding the use of school bathrooms, showers and locker rooms by transgender students based on their identified gender rather than their biological gender. The BOE Policy Committee met with their lawyer on Friday March 4, 2016 seeking advice regarding the policy.

I shared personal concerns regarding a potential transgender policy during public comment at the KCSD board of education meeting on Wednesday March 2, 2016.  I know that some who read Jolyn’s Education Corner will not agree with the concerns that I raise regarding implementation of a policy to allow transgender access to school bathrooms, showers and locker rooms.  There are people all across the United States who are pushing for transgender access to be granted by schools, communities and states.  However I also know that some here in Kingston do agree with my concerns and I believe that many more will understand the validity of the concerns as they begin to consider the various implications of such a policy.

Personal statement from Jolyn Safron – presented to Kingston City School District Board of Education on March 2, 2016:

I am a parent of two young ladies at Kingston High School.

I am concerned that any transgender policy intended to create equality and remove discrimination for a transgender student by giving them unfettered access to school bathrooms, showers and locker rooms based on their identified gender will actually discriminate against far more students who are losing their personal privacy and are now forced to change with or be seen in undress by someone who is biologically a member of the opposite sex.

Gender identity is not well-defined or understood and yet we propose treating members as a protected class?  Transgender depends upon how someone feels and can change over time.  Facebook has 50 different gender identities to select from in the United States and 70 in Europe.  Some even declare their gender as ‘gender fluid’ with it changing from day to day or hour to hour.

Parents will have no recourse against policies that differ from what they want to teach their children regarding sexuality.  If they wish to teach modesty and that men and women should not see each other undressed outside of a committed relationship, students will just have to get used to the fact that it won’t apply in the school house.

Is it fair to our young people to ask/expect them to ignore the bodies of the opposite sex that transgender students bring into the bathrooms and locker rooms?  Most parents want their children to avoid viewing pornography because it adversely affects children as they grow and develop. Are our kids, who are learning and developing their sexual identity, mature enough to deal with seeing what they try to avoid other places in their school bathrooms and locker rooms?

There are also significant freedom of religion issues at stake because modesty/sexual expectations are integral aspects of several religions, particularly Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  Will sexual liberty trump our constitutionally protected religious liberty?

I will end with an example put forth at a rally on this issue in Charlotte, North Carolina:

“When you have a blind student in a school, you don’t impose that student’s handicap on the entire school, forcing the other kids to read braille. But when it comes to those struggling with gender identity issues, the City Council wants to impose their struggles on the whole community, on impressionable little girls who will be traumatized by a man wearing a dress in the restaurant bathroom and on young ladies and women who will be forced to undress in the presence of a biological male in their gym locker room.”

I do not want any traumatized students, transgender or non-transgender.  I ask that the school board bring the community together to discuss this important issue in order to develop a solution that is in the best interest of all students and families within the Kingston City School District.

Since public comment is limited to two minutes, there is much that I was not able to share during the public comment period.  Here is a more detailed version of my concerns with some links if you wish to read background information.

It is my understanding that right now in KCSD transgender students are being provided separate spaces for changing for gym class but arguments are being brought forward across the country that “separate is not equal” and some school districts are putting policies in place to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their identified gender. In many cases these policies are being enacted despite a number of community members voicing concerns about the policies.

A variety of concerns come to mind regarding transgender students using bathrooms and locker rooms with non-transgender (cisgender) students. They are, in no particular order:

  • Any policy intended to create equality and remove discrimination for a transgender student by giving them unfettered access to bathrooms/locker rooms will actually discriminate against far more students who are losing their personal privacy and are now forced to change with or be seen in undress by someone who is biologically a member of the opposite sex.

  • Gender identity, which includes transgender, is not well-defined or understood and yet we propose treating ‘members’ as a protected class? Transgender depends upon how someone feels and can change over time. Facebook has 50 different gender identifies to select from in the United States and 70 in Europe. Some even declare their gender as ‘gender fluid’ with it changing from day to day or hour to hour.

  • Parents will have no recourse against policies that differ from what they want to teach their children regarding sexuality. If they wish to teach modesty and that men and women should not see each other undressed outside of marriage, students will just have to get used to the fact that it won’t apply in the school house.

  • Is it fair to our young people to ask/expect them to ignore the bodies of the opposite sex that transgender students bring into the bathrooms and locker rooms? Most parents want their children to learn modesty and avoid viewing pornography (naked bodies particularly of the opposite sex) because it adversely affects children as they grow and develop. Are our kids, who are learning and developing their sexual identity, mature enough to deal with seeing what they try to avoid other places in their school bathrooms and locker rooms?

  • There is fear of lawsuits against the school district from transgender students who feel they are being discriminated against by not being allowed to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their identified gender. What about the potential lawsuits, which are actually much more numerous, from students who feel their constitutional right to privacy is violated by a member of the opposite sex seeing them undress? Also how does a transgender student undressing in front of a cisgnder student fit with New York State’s indecent exposure laws?

  • There are significant freedom of religion issues at stake because modesty/sexual expectations are integral aspects of several religions, particularly Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Will sexual liberty trump our constitutionally protected religious liberty?

  • The debate over transgender rights is not just occurring in the school house. Similar battles are being waged to pass SOGI (sexual orientation/gender identity) laws regarding public and business bathrooms and locker rooms. Concerns regarding the safety of women arise in public places if biological males are allowed to enter bathrooms and locker rooms. How does a woman determine upon entering a restroom whether the person that looks like a man is transgender and therefore not a threat to her or is a heterosexual predator who is using the new regulations to gain access to places where he can abuse women? Hopefully students will not have to deal with this level of concern in our school bathrooms and locker rooms but if our young girls become desensitized to the presence of “males” in the school bathrooms and locker rooms how will they learn to be careful in other public spaces?

In my opinion KCSD is essentially between a rock and a hard place. NYSED is giving no direction to school districts about how to handle transgender issues and each district has to figure it out on their own. Shenandowa School District passed policy allowing transgender access to bathrooms back in December 2014 despite community protest.  I personally know a parent from that school district who was involved and frustrated by the decision.  Hamburg NY passed a transgender policy with no community protest in December 2015.  Lancaster, NY attempted to pass a policy in December 2015 but had so much community response that the discussion had to be tabled after several hours.

The transgender policy debate also exists at a national level. A school district in Palatine, Illinois was forced by the federal government (U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights) to allow transgender Student A (biologically male student) to have full access to the girl’s locker room or else lose the school district’s Title IX funding and face additional penalties. Many people spoke both for and against the policy including six high school students who spoke, despite their fear of being called bigots, insensitive or homophobes, of their discomfort and their sense of invasion of personal privacy due to having to undress with a biological male in the locker room.

At the city/state level, the most recent SOGI battle that I have read about is from Charlotte, North Caroline where the City Council voted to pass an LGBT non-discrimination bill on February 22, 2016 despite massive protest. Some of the comments from the rally prior to the council meeting seem applicable to the transgender policy discussion here in Kingston.

“When you have a blind student in a school, you don’t impose that student’s handicap on the entire school, forcing the other kids to read braille. But when it comes to those struggling with gender identity issues, the City Council wants to impose their struggles on the whole community — on impressionable little girls who will be traumatized by a man wearing a dress in the restaurant bathroom and on young ladies and women who will be forced to undress in the presence of a biological male in their gym locker room.

I do not want any traumatized students, transgender or non-transgender.  I urge all members of the Kingston community to investigate this issue and determine what you are comfortable with for yourself and your children and then join the conversation, in a kind and respectful manner, to help develop a solution that is in the best interest of all students and families within the Kingston City School District.

Coffee and Conversation – Saturday February 6, 2016

I encourage parents to stop by the Coffee and Conversation at the Cioni Building this Saturday from 9:30 – 11:00 am.

You can ask a question** or just say hello and hear what other parents/community members are talking about.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Padalino and members of the Kingston Board of Education will be in attendance.

Parentpower

 

**If you don’t think you have anything to ask about, here are some topics I have heard parents discussing that might trigger a question for you:

  • construction at KHS
  • upcoming NYS standardized testing
  • local testing and its role in teacher evaluation
  • impact of Common Core on Regents tests and graduation
  • special education
  • bullying
  • violent incidents particularly at the middle schools
  • restorative justice
  • school-to-prison pipeline
  • suspension rates
  • assemblies

Also remember that the school district is preparing the annual school budget and the Board of Education will be approving the budget in April (and we the voters will vote in May) so now is a good time to ask budget-related questions.

NYSAPE’s Response to Tim Kremer, Executive Director of NYSSBA

Timothy Kremer, Executive Director of New York State School Boards Association, wrote an article last week to “encourage” parents to allow their children to take the state tests this year. He believes that enough change is under way and that parents should be ready to get back with the program and let their kids take the tests or as he puts it
parents and teachers in New York State should recognize that testing boycotts are not constructive – especially when everyone is bending over backwards to try to make the very adjustments that parents have sought as quickly as possible.
I wholeheartedly agree with NYSAPE’s response to Mr. Kremer.
In a nutshell
Until the changes we have enumerated are CODIFIED IN LAW and we see them implemented in our children’s classrooms, our opt out numbers will continue to grow.  (emphasis mine)
 *****
 Refuse tests because we love our kids Conversation Heart
Full text of NYSAPE’s letter below:

January 27, 2016

New York State School Boards Association

Attn: Mr. Tim Kremer, Executive Director

24 Century Hill Drive, Suite 200

Latham, NY 12110–2125

Dear Mr. Kremer,

This letter is in response to your commentary titled, “Take yes for an answer,” in the January 25th edition of NYSSBA’s On Board. We would like to thank you for recognizing the role that New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) have played in being a “vocal and politically effective group of parents and educators opposed to a ‘test and punishment’ culture.” On behalf of the 50-plus grassroots organizations across the state that we proudly call allies in the fight to reclaim our public schools, we wish to respond to some of the arguments you made.

You state that “although our state has shifted from overdrive to neutral on testing, NYSAPE has declared it’s frustrated that ‘nothing has changed.” You continue with several examples where you believe some changes have been made, such as:

  • The governor has “endorsed the recommendations of his Common Core Task Force….”
  • The Board of Regents has placed a moratorium on the consequences for students and teachers of the 3–8 tests for the next four years.
  • A new testing vendor will play a large role in the state tests next year and according to Commissioner Elia, “teachers will be even more closely involved in the vetting and development process.”
  • “In the near future, New York will once again revisit its learning standards, grade-by-grade.”

Unfortunately, promises of change will not suffice until the governor and the legislature change the law. “Endorsements” and “moratoriums” are not changes in law, they are modifications. Furthermore, they are modifications that do nothing for the students taking this spring’s 3–8 tests — tests that will still be developmentally inappropriate, far too long, invalid measures of student growth or knowledge, and provide third party vendors with personally identifiable information without sufficient privacy protections. Moreover, our teachers will still be rated on the basis of unreliable and often invalid local assessments, which will not relieve their anxiety nor the test prep culture that has overtaken our schools.

You continue, “The point is that the state is taking seriously the concerns raised by parents, teachers, and others. It’s hard to understand why NYSAPE thinks further antagonism through test refusals is their best course of action.” Our response to this is we wouldn’t even be having a conversation if over 240,000 brave parents had not chosen to opt their children out of the 3–8 tests. What you call “antagonism”, we call “protecting our children.” Lastly, you include the veiled threat of federal sanctions if schools do not meet the required 95% participation rate for the 3–8 ELA and math tests. No state has ever lost federal funding due to a testing boycott on the part of parents. Taking Title I money away from the neediest students in order to punish parents who are boycotting a testing system that is out of control is not defensible. Any lawmaker or policymaker taking this course of threatening action would be under extreme political fall-out from the people they serve.

If you would like to see parents become a part of the solution instead of viewing them as the problem, we would welcome an opportunity to meet with you and the NYSSBA Board members to further explain what needs to be accomplished before we opt back into the system. Until the changes we have enumerated are codified in law and we see them implemented in our children’s classrooms, our opt out numbers will continue to grow.

Sincerely,

Steering Committee Members of New York State Allies for Public Education:

Jamaal Bowman, Bronx,

Carol Burris, Queens,

Nancy Cauthen, NYC

Chris Cerrone, Western NY

Jeanette Deutermann, Long Island

Tim Farley, Capital Region

Kevin Glynn, Long Island

Leonie Haimson, NYC

Marla Kilfoyle, Long Island

Jessica McNair, Central NY

Lisa Rudley, Westchester

Bianca Tanis, Hudson Valley

Katie Zahedi, Hudson Valley

CC: ​Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, NYS Education Department

NYS Board of Regents

Governor Andrew Cuomo

Secretary of Education Jere Hochman

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, Chair of Assembly Education Committee

Assemblywoman Debra Glick, Chair of Assembly Higher Education Committee

Senator Carl Marcellino, Chair of Senate Education Committee

NYS School Boards of Education Members

Bonnie Russell, President of NYS PTA

John McKenna, President of SAANYS

Karen Magee, President of NYSUT