School Board summary

(Following are notes from the March 21, meeting of the Niagara Falls School Board as provided by the district.)

Area 1 Director of the New York State School Boards Association David L. Lowrey introduced himself to the Niagara Falls City School District Board of Directors (NFCSD). Lowrey said he plans to visit all school boards in New York State to represent each District best.

District Literacy Screening Transition Program Data - Elementary

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Richard Carella presented the winter NFCSD Literacy Screening Transition Data. The District followed an updated tier one English language arts (ELA) curriculum and resources in the winter semester to include New York State's "Big 6 Skills and Competencies: oral language, phonological awareness, phonics, comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency."

Students who score low on the ELA assessment and need extra assistance are divided into tiers, with tier three being those who need the most intervention and tier one being those who need the least intervention. The program aims to move students from tier three to tier one. From the fall 2023 screening results to the winter 2024 screening results, 14% of tier 3 and tier two students moved up to tier one in grades K through four.

The ELA administrators are constantly creating improvement plans for the program. The latest restructured plan includes:

  • Continuous training provided for all administrators, teachers, and TAs
  • Administrators will participate in virtual staff development from Wilson Language (a training program focused on the science of reading) to evaluate fidelity to the program and support teachers' professional growth
  • Teachers training has concentrated on delivery of lessons and administration and analysis of unit assessments
  • Three Personal Education Plan (PEP) lead teachers will complete facilitator certification with Wilson Language coaches in June

2024 – 2025 Proposed Budget Update

Superintendent Mark Laurrie provided a proposed 2024 – 2025 budget update. The District's BOCES aid has been maximized through some purchases of equipment for the information technology department.

The human resources department evaluates every employment position that becomes vacant through attrition to determine whether it is essential to fill.

The District's expenses are $190,992,049, and it is expected the District’s revenues will be $183,784,639. This year, the NFCSD received $3.6 million in New York State Foundation Aid. In 2023, that number was $13 million.

The budget gap totals $7,207,410. There are three ways the District can fill this gap:

  • raise taxes, which is something the District will not do;
  • cut programs and staff – the District will not do this;
  • That leaves option number three, which is to tap into District reserve funds.

The District will propose utilizing some reserve funds, so the budget will require a 60% supermajority of votes to pass.

New Business

The Board of Education ratified the following items of new business:

  • Funds for the 2023/2024 Title I Part A, Title II Part A, and Title IV Grants in the amount of $300,000 for Basic School Improvement as under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
  • Funds for the 2023/2024 Title 1 Part A Improving Academic Achievement, Title II Part A, Teacher/Principal Training, and Title IV, Part A, Grants (Student Support and Academic Enrichment Program – SSAE). The total of these three grants is $5,992,545.00. The goals of SSAE are (1) to provide all students with access to a well-rounded education, (2) to improve school conditions for student learning, and (3) to improve the use of technology to improve academic achievement and digital learning of all students.
  • Continuation of the application for the 2024/2025 Head Start/ Early Head Start Grant.

Superintendent's Report

Thank you to our men's Wolverine Basketball Team for a fun and exciting season. Congratulations on your trip to the State Finals.

After the break, NFCSD high school teachers will participate in situational de-escalation training.

Spring sports are now in full swing.

The students who embarked on the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) tour in Georgia enjoyed their visits to Morris Brown College, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College. Thank you to board member Earl Bass for helping organize and plan this trip and serving as a chaperone.

Ten teachers and two NFHS students are in Ghana, Africa, to assist a community in building a boat that they can use for commerce.

The Spanish Club will be in Puerto Rico for a portion of spring recess.

Hello, Dolly! presented by the students of the NFHS Proscenium Players was a success. The musical took a lot of hard work, and the work paid off: a fantastic performance with many talented Wolverines.

On Monday, March 18, 2024, the NFCSD held its first-ever special education parent group meeting. The group must meet two more times to be chartered.

Schools will be closed on April 8, 2024 – Eclipse Day.

Thank you to the Niagara Falls Public Library for donating 7,500 eclipse glasses to the District. The glasses were distributed to students on Friday, March 22, 2024, the last day before spring vacation.

The Superintendent’s meeting with Say Yes Buffalo was excellent, and all signs are that Say Yes Niagara Falls will come to fruition. A 2025 kick-off is expected.

Remember to attend the NFCSD 2024 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards Celebration on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, at 6:00 p.m. at Bloneva Bond Primary.

The next Niagara Falls City School District Board of Education meeting is Thursday, April 11, 2024 at 5:30 p.m. at the Niagara Falls City School District Administration Building, 630 66th Street, Niagara Falls 14304

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