Onteora delivers meals, curriculum

The Onteora Central School District began delivering meals on March 18 and will continue to do so on Mondays and Wednesdays to district households with students that elected to receive nutritional support during the mandated school closure that began March 16, in an effort to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Meals will be delivered on Mondays and Wednesdays by transportation staff via custom routes based on the location of participating households.

The first delivery included three breakfasts and three lunches per child. The Monday, March 23 delivery will consist of three breakfasts and two lunches per child, and the Wednesday, March 25 delivery will include two breakfasts and three lunches per child.

The deadline for applying for the Wednesday, March 25, delivery has yet to be determined, according to the school’s website.

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To enroll in the program, which has discrete deadlines for each delivery, families with district-enrolled students 18 years of age or younger, should see https://forms.gle/Bv4QB87MzWwM9Krq7, or call 845-657-6383 x 1012.

The district has also implemented it’s plan for curriculum-continuity, according to assistant superintendent Jodi DeLucia, having distributed grade-level-specific “emergency instructional packets and materials” to district households.

For K-3 students, the packets provide parents with literacy, math books and games to reinforce skills and prevent regression. For other grade levels, a variety of online learning platforms — including Google Classroom, Castle Learning, and links to district-purchased and free online resources — are being utilized. High school students each have a designated Chromebook, and any student that is unable to access academic resources utilizing technology received paper resources. 

At the board meeting…

No shortage of other agenda items — including a 2020-2021 draft budget presentation and a post-mortem on February 20’s public forum on later secondary school start times — peppered the board of education’s March 10’s meeting. Monica LaClair, the district’s assistant superintendent of business, detailed a proposed $57.94 million budget for 2020-2021, which would increase the district tax levy by 2.56 percent. The proposal projects increases for instructional costs, employee benefits, and athletics and decreases in transportation, operations and maintenance, general support, and debt service.  

When questioned by trustee Kevin Salem, LaClair confirmed that the transportation budget, proposed to reduce by $13,000 from last year, reflected a resolution adopted last October to move secondary school start times from 7:40 a.m. to no later than 8 a.m. by this September.

In its subsequent post-mortem of a February 20 public forum on the later start time issue, trustee Valerie Storey questioned the practicality of being able to implement necessary changes in the allotted time frame. “I don’t think we gave our administration enough time to fully vet these things — our parents enough time so they can make plans for when school starts in September.”

The group discussed to what extent communication protocols may have contributed to a perception of non-inclusion among primary parents, teachers and administrators at the forum. Superintendent Victoria McLaren underscored that the forum occurred at a point in time when the board had just approved the proposed revisions to the secondary school day. “I agree that the elementary buildings need to have more input,” she said. 

Within the past few weeks, the district has implemented the use of Shoutpoint technology to disseminate messages to parents and guardians of district students to improve communication delivery and flow.

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