The successes and struggles of Saugerties students were in the spotlight at the November School Board meeting, which took place at Riccardi Elementary School.
Dr. Charles Khoury, district superintendent of Ulster BOCES, touted a number of Saugerties success stories. He commended three Saugerties students in the New Visions program at BOCES who, with a peer from Kingston, took first place in the National STEM Video Game Challenge in 2012. He also praised Tyler Wenzel, another student from Saugerties, who was part of Ulster BOCES Career & Technical Center’s Team VoltTech. Along with their colleagues from other schools throughout Ulster County, the team drove a solar car they designed and built 1,200 miles from Texas to California and won the top prize in their division over the summer.
These successes, as well as the fact that Saugerties has the greatest number of students in the BOCES New Visions program of any district in the county, give Saugerties “a seat at the table” with Ulster BOCES, according to Superintendent Seth Turner. Turner says he regularly meets with Khoury, whom he called “the conduit of information from State Ed.”
In spite of the many high notes recounted at the board meeting, there was also attention given to some students who were struggling. Newly-appointed Assistant Superintendent Larry Mautone gave a presentation on the mandated Local Assistance Plans (LAPs) that have been developed for two of the district’s schools.
New York State Department of Education mandates that these plans be developed for several reasons, including when a particular subgroup in a school fails to meet the adequate yearly progress on state tests, or when the gap between a subgroup and the rest of the student body increases dramatically.
In the case of the Junior High School, the LAP was developed because the test scores of students with disabilities weren’t up to snuff. The district will have to work with BOCES to develop a Quality Improvement Plan, which will in turn need to be submitted to the state Department of Education. The district also needed to develop an LAP for Mt. Marion Elementary School because the combined scores for economically disadvantaged students in English and math fell below the cut point. This plan will be posted on the district’s website.
Mautone said being identified as a school that needed an LAP was not the worst designation from the state. None of the schools in the Saugerties district were designated a focus or priority school, which are the lowest designations.