According to Hamburg Central School officials, the district’s Annual Professional Performance Review plan was submitted recently to New York State Education Department, with the expectation that the plan, pending an approval vote later this week from the Hamburg Teachers Association, will produce the anticipated state aid amount to the district of roughly $450,000.
Speaking at Tuesday’s (January 8) Hamburg Central School Board meeting, Board Vice President Thomas F. Flynn III addressed recent circulated media coverage related to Hamburg’s supposed lack of APPR submission to the state. Flynn stated that submission of such an APPR document to the state Education Department did in fact take place last Friday (Jan. 4), with the district’s actions conducted within the guided timeline to potentially receive state aid. It was further stated that members of the Hamburg Teachers Association must still vote on material associated with the APPR, with such determination being conducted later this week.
District officials are scheduled to meet Friday morning with HTA members to hypothetically, officially pass the plan following the HTA vote on the matter. The district’s submission of the APPR plan was done, Flynn stated, with an intention of expediting the process of receiving state aid.
District Superintendent Steven A. Achramovitch said Hamburg had been facing the potential loss of state aid if the APPR plan – listed as part of a year-to-year, individual contract – is not approved by the state Education Department by Jan. 17. The submission Friday was stated as taking place as part of the plan for the 2012-13 academic year.
Board Member Holly Balaya said it is the hope of district officials to continue working closely with the HTA to have the new APPR plan in place.
“Have faith,” Balaya told those in attendance Tuesday. “It’s a new concept and it’s (potentially) hard to lay it out. (We) realize it’s unfortunate that we came down to the deadline.”
The board later at the meeting voted 7-0 to approve the APPR plan with the Hamburg Administrative Council.
In other meeting action, members of the Hamburg Schools’ Inspiring Minds program provided during a PowerPoint presentation information related to the district’s Graduation Coach mentoring. Director of Pupil Services Colleen Kaney and Hamburg High School Social Worker Tina LaMendola described the mentoring program, established at the high school in February 2011, as a success, with a large focus directed on working with freshmen during their “make or break year.” The program was also stated to be a concentrated effort to reduce the district’s student dropout rate.
Identified students as part of the program are said to be, in particular, at-risk youths who may be transfers or screened eighth graders incoming to the district. The at-risk denomination was said to include students failing two or more courses, or, in certain cases, as being diagnosed as having severe ADHD. As part of the proactive nature of the mentoring program, it was said that building personal relationships with the pupils was stressed, with links given with available resources, grade review and parent communication. Further program directives include using general positive reinforcement, treating students to lunch, passing out snacks, writing each pupil a reminding positive note. Additionally, as part of the program, end-of-year picnics and field trips are held.
A total of 52 volunteer staff members from Hamburg High, who are trained as part of a course through BOCES, currently comprise the mentoring program. Comparably, LaMendola said, the program had just 19 volunteer staff members upon establishment in 2011. Forty-five at-risk students were said to have registered as part of the mentoring program’s first year, with an onus placed on decreasing behavioral incidents, increasing attendance, and continually increasing graduation rates. It was found that 61 percent of students involved with Graduation Coach mentoring did not fail any core classes. The program also was stated as receiving the Hamburg Alumni Foundation Grant.
LaMendola said that the staff volunteers enjoyed working with the involved students in a variety of capacities.
“They wanted feedback from everybody (involved in the program, including pupils),” LaMendola said of the volunteer staff members. “And on the outside (field trips), we even saw the kids flourish.”