Wayne Central Board of Education meeting was held at 7:00 pm in-person at the school cafeteria and via Facebook Live. All recordings of previous meetings are available in the video section of their Facebook page. The meeting was opened by Board President Jennifer Schoene with the pledge of allegiance. Superintendent Joe Siracuse was joined by all board members who were present with one seat vacant. Carrie Resch joined remotely. Public comments were heard from parents Laura Abbott and Karen Voss, and students Cody Jackson and Rin Phillips all asking the school to adjust the current 12-ft spacing rule for music students down to 6-ft, citing the inequitable comparison to sports such as wrestling and professional orchestras who perform within 6-ft guidelines. Parent Laura Valentine also spoke regarding a recent youth survey, questioning the true anonymity and voluntary nature of the survey since students reported signing into their Chromebooks to take the survey during class. She also asked the board to consider an active parental consent protocol versus the current passive consent and questioned the appropriateness of some of the questions. Board member comments were heard from Dan Wildey praising the video tours done of within the school prior to reopening on March 15. He also suggested that it was time for the district to consider investment in turf fields for spring sports. Board member Steve Gallaher praised the students who spoke during public comments and the school for successful reopening. Board member Kim Phillips voiced her desire to see future capital projects that include more space for music practices in the middle school.
Superintendent Dr. Siracuse remarks noted the timely comments of the board for both turf investments and music space, both in consideration for phase 2 building projects. The board facility committee will meet next week to discuss these and other possible projects. He too congratulated the district for successful reopening. He congratulated the boys’ basketball team for winning sectionals and three varsity wrestlers for their placement in the sectional tournament. He reviewed the calendar of upcoming school events, noting that a smaller theatre performance of “Aladdin” will take place with four guests for each performer allowed to attend as well as anticipated in-person graduation. The COVID update showed a significant reduction in March positive student COVID cases, down to 8 from a December high of 189, as well as staff positive cases down to 2 from a November high of 33. School partnered with Wayne County for vaccination clinic. All staff that requested a vaccine received one. Siracuse invited Jay Roscup from Finger Lakes Region, Community Schools Director to review the Evalumetrics Youth Survey participation parameters and use of the results. Mr. Roscup is a co-chair for the Wayne County Partnership for Strengthening Families which represents 45 member agencies and schools which connects families and youth with public services including schools. This organization shares the data with partner agencies to help develop programs for helping families. His focus is on culturally responsive education and trauma-informed approaches in communities. The survey aims to identify common core predictive factors that help evaluate risk and protective factors which can identify root causes for issues with student. Factors such as low neighborhood attachment, family moving, food insecurity, and childhood trauma can lead to issues like vaping, which is a predictor to possible future substance use. The goal is to guide schools and programming that addresses root causes and risk factors. The 2019 survey had 3000 respondents from every district in Wayne County. He emphasized that the survey was anonymous despite the student logging into their online account. The survey results also tracked free lunch and graduation rates over the last 8 years, both of which have increased in Wayne County in recent years. Board member Gallaher was still concerned with the anonymity of the survey and the appropriateness of questions. Mr. Roscup assured the board that the survey provider had absolutely no interest in identifying participants and that participants could skip questions. He also reassured parents that there were no political questions. Board member Dennis Landry asked, why not use paper survey. Mr. Roscup said the data entry would be more costly. Parent commenter, Valentine, spoke up that she felt the results could lead to data profiling, and she would still like to have a positive parent consent option. Dr. Siracuse said they would review that option later, since the survey is done every two years. Board member Wildey suggested that a sample survey be put on their website. He also asked what the district gets out of it and if it was a valuable use of time. Derek DeMass, Interim Curriculum & Technology Integration Director, responded that the district can identify community resources and grant opportunities beyond what the district can provide in addition to the school representing one of the larger districts in the county. Data is shared with county agencies for grant purposes that can address needs identified.
Christine Quinlan, Director of Finance and Operations, made a presentation on a proposed transportation communication system for digital radios to be installed on buses so that there is no region of the district where busses go that cannot get in touch with the home base. Proposed costs are supplemented with state aid but there are annual fees and some cost savings to the district. More information will be presented from the vendor at the next meeting. Ms. Quinlan also made a preliminary budget presentation identifying budget factors, updated expenses, revenue projections, tax cap and long-range planning. Anticipated budget for 2021-22 school year to $48.732 million, up 2.94%, primarily due to increase in debt service. Revenue projections are similar to this year. She addressed the state budget and future federal stimulus money, but no one knows how that will be applied for yet. State aid is always an unknown until the state budget passes. Board member Gallaher wanted to clarify that the town wide assessment increases do not mean that school tax bills will also increase because of the tax levy cap. Future projections in budget revenue takes into account the PILOT cuts when Ginna is no longer paying and tax levy cap calculations. A final budget will be announced after state aid is determined. No reserves are necessary to fill the budget gap next year. There are 6 busses proposed for purchase. Budget vote is schedule for May 18. State has been filling in the 20% loss during COVID year. Board member Landry asked where federal stimulus money would go. Quinlan stated that most federal funding is meant to replace lost state aid funding, but that the recent funding announcement did not provide any guidance or timeline for receipt or use.
The Board then approved district-wide safety plan with amendments. Discussion about vacant board seat determined that a special election would not be held, and the May ballot would have four open seats with the fourth largest vote-winner filling the remainder of the vacancy term for 2 years. Motion made and approved. President Schoene invited discussion on the music program distancing. All board members commented and agreed that 6-ft, if not 3-ft, would be a favorable improvement in the music program. Board member Wildey mentioned his surprise at the fact that there is no statewide organization lobbying for continuation of music programs like there is for sports programs. Board member Gallaher made a motion to direct Dr. Siracuse to implement a 6-ft distance for music programs. All agreed. Nomination of Pam Pendelton for the BOCES board was also unanimously approved. A motion was made to approve the adoption of the following revised school policies: Unlawful possession of weapons on school grounds, Title IX Sex Discrimination (New), School Safety plans, and Weapons in School & Gun-free School Act. Motion passed. The consent agenda was approved and not committee reports were given. Board moved to executive discussion at 9:01 pm to discuss two pending CSEA contract grievances. No further business conducted. Next meeting scheduled for April 15.