RIPLEY -Parents of Ripley Central School District students grades pre-kindergarten through sixth grade will find a few changes when dropping off their children, board of education members learned recently.
Principal Lauren Ormsby told the board that, due to an effort to improve security, parents will no longer be able to walk their children to their classrooms. Also, there will be only one point of access for children to enter the school.
"Now that we are a pre-K through six building, we will not be unlocking doors and allowing parents to walk children to their classroom. Parents must use door J and they must sign in," Ormsby said. "We are in no way preventing parents from coming into the building but it is more structured. They must sign in."
Photo by David Prenatt
Despite a lawsuit against the district, Ripley students in grades 7-12 will be attending classes at Chautauqua Lake Central School this year.
Because only one parking lot will be available for school arrivals and departures, parents will no longer be able to leave the car running at the curb and bring their children in because this would impair the movement of the buses, she added.
Ripley Superintendent Karen Krause noted that she has filed papers with New York state requesting that the school building be re-designated as a Pre-K through sixth grade building.
In other business, Ormsby reported that Ripley has received a designation of "making progress" from the New York State Education Department. This is reference to Ripley having been identified as a Focus District last year by the SED. A Focus District is required to submit a comprehensive plan to improve results in math and literacy.
A designation of "making progress" is the first step to being removed from the list, Ormsby said. Out of 499 districts on the list, only 40 percent received this designation. This puts them on probation and one more year of improvement will allow them to be removed from the list, she added.
Ormsby also noted that the state has changed its requirements for testing since it implemented the Common Core State Standards this year. Instead of looking at only test scores, the SED uses criteria to look at a student's overall progress.
Therefore, even though the test scores of Ripley students dropped, that was really a result of the tougher curriculum and tests implemented through Common Core, Ormsby said.
She distributed a letter from SED Commissioner John B. King Jr. that is to be sent to all parents explaining the sections. In it the commissioner emphasizes: "I want to make it very clear that the change in test scores (including, possibly, in your child's score) does not mean that students are learning less or that teachers and schools are performing worse than last year. Proficiency rates on the new Common Core assessments cannot be compared with last year's proficiency results since the old scores are from an old test based on the former standards."
Ormsby said she is confident that the plan Ripley submitted to the SED is working and that the district will continue to make progress.
"We are going to continue to work hard and I hope next year I can give you the news that, not only are we making progress, but we are off the list," she said.
In other matters, board president Robert Bentley said the suit filed against the school board regarding tuitioning students in grades 712 to Chautauqua Lake Central School has been moving forward. The district will submit its response to the SED within 14 days and then await the commissioner's decision in the matter.
The board also heard a presentation by Wayne Rishell, from the auditing firm of Buffamonte Whipple Buttafaro. He explained how the company provides yearly testing of the district's internal control structures, as well as its auditing accounts. This year's tests began in July and will conclude in October, he said.
"We've been with you for a number of years, but we don't take anything for granted. Just because your internal controls were working last year doesn't mean they are working this year," he added.
The board approved an access agreement and an option-to-lease agreement with the town of Ripley. The town plans to lease a part of the school for its offices. These agreements would give the town the ability, if needed, to perform work in the school building before the actual leasing agreement is completed.
Krause told the board that the agreement would give the town the use of five former classrooms, two entrances and a storage room. It may also include the use of the athletic fields, which the town could use for its summer programs. The school would retain the right to use the fields as well, she said.
Krause also reported that the State Environmental Quality Review has concluded that there would be no environmental impact of the town leasing this space from the school. In fact, the environmental impact may be less than before because there will fewer people using that space, she added.
The board agreed to seek bids to sell a 1999 Bluebird bus. The bus has a trade-in value of $15,000 but the district feels it can get a better price through bids.
The next school board meeting will be Sept. 19 at 6:30 p.m. in the elementary library.
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