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Frontier’s summer program described as a wide-ranging success

FRONTIER — Significant academic and economic benefits are said to have accompanied this past season’s summer school program in the Frontier Central School District.

A presentation at the Oct. 15 board of education meeting outlined the summer’s financial gains, as well as the multitude of programs offered, highlighting various academic improvements made by participating students. According to district officials, more than $137,000 was generated through registration fees, with 24 area school districts’ participating in Frontier’s program. A total of 535 students enrolled in the 2013 summer program, with pupils residing in the Frontier district paying $3 for any amount of courses. A higher cost is associated with such courses, for out-of-district students.

District teachers Amber Chandler and David Skelley, as well as Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Mary Ann Costello, described elements of the summer program.

Implementing Common Core Learning Standard unit plan templates was said to be a major focus, moving forward. Other newer and continual items include incorporating paperless report cards, utilizing shared facilities along with community education and other directives, and holding Regents exams.

An prepared summer staff included primarily “veteran” summer school teachers, to go along with three monitors, School Resource Officer Dennis Horrigan, one nurse and guidance department members. Staff were on hand to provide service for a diverse student population, of which there were seven allergy/EpiPen® users, three “cardiac” pupils and one diabetic monitor. There were also 120 reported health visits and four drug/alcohol evaluations

Notable score improvements were said to have occurred in all course areas, with the rates of improvement from June exams among students per class including 41 percent of all pupils in global studies, 40 percent in living environment, 36 percent in algebra, 29 percent in English, 28 percent in geometry, 16 percent in United States history and 14 percent in Earth science.

Overall passing rates of students per summer course included 71 percent of 90 students in English, 61 percent of 70 students in algebra, 74 percent of 70 students in U.S. history, 51 percent of 41 students in Earth science and 32 percent of 79 students in geometry.

The largest course included global studies, with 140 students. Additionally, elementary music had 160 students, featuring one-on-one instruction. Special education was featured in a resource room staffed with teachers from both Frontier high and middle schools, according to Chandler. Other courses offered were:

– English nine, 10, 11 and 12 (the last being new); middle school academy; English language arts six, seven and eight; social studies eight; math six, seven and eight and science six, seven and eight.

Interim Superintendent Paul Hashem described the summer program as a worthwhile and productive element to Frontier. “It’s a plus-plus, with the growth and [funds] generated,” said Hashem, who added that the $137,000-plus could feasibly be allocated to the district’s fund balance reserves.

Ex-Officio Student Representative to the Board Andrew Bojanowski said that benefits of the summer programs are evident, adding that he had twice the opportunity to advance ahead in his studies, through such courses.

In other meeting action:
– There will likely be re-wording of a memorandum of understanding that spells out duties and actions warranting an overall $7,000 increase for the annual salary of Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Myra Pinker.

A resolution to increase Pinker’s base salary to $115,047 was not passed as of the meeting, as a board vote resulted in a 3 – 3 – 1 decision, with Board Member Thomas Best Jr. abstaining for the reason of the MOU’s being written prior to his arrival on the board.

Board members Lynn Szalkowski, Jack Chiappone and Larry Albert voted against the resolution, while Martin Lalka and Patrick Boyle, as well as Board President Janet Plarr, cast votes in favor of the measure.

– The MOU was executed in July 2012 under the guidance of former district Superintendent James Bodziak. It included additional responsibilities for Pinker that included handling attendance for all employees in the school district, as well as all personnel matters related to buildings or grounds, transportation, and food service. The additional duties, combined with merit pay during the 2012 – 2013 school year, based on performance in the added responsibilities, were noted as accounting for annual increases of $3,500 apiece.

Albert said the overall language in the MOU did not support passing the resolution for the salary increase and said that the wording is “fuzzy.” After the meeting, Hashem and Albert said that there is a need to change various wording in the MOU, with the interim superintendent’s adding that such issues would be corrected in the near future.

– Hashem further addressed the vandalism that occurred to district school buses on Oct. 7, an issue that resulted in Frontier schools’ being closed for a day.

The interim superintendent said that the district is now utilizing a security member in charge of overseeing such district property, until the time that transportation officials arrive on school grounds at approximately 5:30 a.m. on school days. He added that district officials are looking into the possibility of implementing further security cameras as part of phase 3 work in the ongoing capital improvement project, or perhaps through a grant.

– Hashem credited the work of Hamburg police and those in the local community for helping to apprehend the offender behind the vandalism.

“It’s a shame we had to close schools because of one individual,” he said. “We are reviewing the policy to prevent closing again.”

The next meeting of the Frontier Central School Board will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 5 in the Frontier Educational Center boardroom, located at 5120 Orchard Ave. in Hamburg.
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