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Ripley District In ‘Good Shape Right Now’

RIPLEY — “We’re in good shape right now,” Ripley Central School District Superintendent William Caldwell told members of the board of education at their meeting Nov. 19.

Caldwell told board members that Ripley has not been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic like many districts in neighboring Erie County.

“I’m pretty grateful that it’s not impacting us to a large degree,” he said. “Barring an explosion in cases, I don’t anticipate us becoming a yellow or a red zone.”

Caldwell reviewed the measures that have been taken in the district in case the situation changes. He said testing could be done if the 14775 ZIP code receives a yellow zone designation, but the tests have to be purchased through the Chautauqua County Health Department and then administered.

Caldwell told board members that districts in Chautauqua County should be in fairly good shape as far as having access to rapid tests, “but right now it’s not a big headache for us.”

Measures are also being taken to insure that students are prepared should they go to remote instruction, Caldwell said. Technology Director Julianna Sciolino has it set up that the students sign in one time and they are connected to everything, he said.

Furthermore, Caldwell said, Sciolino met with Teacher on Special Assignment Michelle Waters, and reviewed all the teachers’ schedules. Waters devised a remote schedule for everyone in case it is needed, he said.

“I think we’re as prepared as we possibly can be,” he added.

In a related matter, Caldwell told the board that he and board member Heather Chess attended a presentation on state aid given by Dr. Rick Timbs, executive director of the Statewide School Finance Consortium. He said there is still much uncertainty about state aid cuts.

Caldwell told board members that, while districts were told they must use district buses to deliver meals and instructional materials, reimbursement is being refused.

“We were told we’d be reimbursed, but it turns out we are not eligible for transportation aid from March 16 through the end of the school year,” he said.

Caldwell said the district will lose more than $150,000 if the bill that’s been introduced into the legislature to change the existing law does not pass. At the present time, the law stipulates that transporation aid is based on transporting pupils to and from school, so districts may not be reimbursed for delivering meals and educational supplies.

In other school matters, principal Micah Oldham told board members that students have finished their ELA Module 1 final projects and are currently preparing their portfolios for student-led conferences. Students at RCS have successfully conducted parent conferences for several years, he said.

However, Oldham said, this year the conferences must be remote.

“Each student will create a video of them presenting their learning portfolio,” he said. “These videos will be used during this year’s virtual studend-led conferences.”

Oldham also told the board that the initial November iReady testing looks promising.

“When we look at the school as a whole, we see a 14% increase in students performing at grade level in reading and math,” he said. “Also, we’ve seen an 18% reduction of severely at risk students in reading and a 3% reduction of severely at risk students in math.”

Oldham noted that students who are considered severely at risk are those performing more than one grade level below their actual grade. He noted that the math program will continue to be an area of focus.

Oldham expressed appreciation for the generosity of two former RCS principals, Sue Hammond and James Wakeman, who recently gave the school a $50 gift certificate to Main Street Pizza.

“We are going to use this generous gift to fund a school wide December Reading Challenge,” Oldham said. The home room with the highest percentage of students doing their nightly reading will win a pizza party, he said.

In other business, the board accepted the resignation for the purpose of retirement of non-instuctional employee Linda Weaver. She has been an employee of the district for 18 years. Although Weaver is retiring, she has agreed to serve as a substitute bus driver for the district.

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