Westfield To Begin Academic Assistance Program

A new after school academic assistance program for middle and high school students will begin on Jan. 4, Westfield Academy and Central School Board of Education members learned at a recent meeting.

Secondary principal Corey Markham told board members that the program will provide instruction in social studies, science, ELA and math, and will be held from 3:15 to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Markham said transportation will be provided for students who participate in the program.

Markham also reported that “fall sports is all wrapped up,” and he shared the accomplishments of individual athletes in volleyball, boys soccer and girls soccer.

In a related matter, Markham told board members that “the sound system in the auditorium is amazing.” He thanked the board for helping the school get the new system.

Molly Anderson, curriculum director, gave board members updates on curriculum, testing and state graduation requirements. She said options for state assessment scoring are being evaluated and she shared two areas for which the state Education Department is seeking feedback regarding graduation requirements.

“NYSED is looking for feedback through a thought exchange,” she said. “They are asking what knowledge, skills and/or experiences do you think are important for all students to have by the end of high school? They are also posing the question: ‘How would you like students to to show that they have the knowledge, skills and/or experiences necessary for graduation?'”

In other business, board president Wendy Dyment reviewed three policies that were introduced at the Nov. 22 board meeting. Regarding Policy 5660: Meal Charging and Prohibition Against Meal Shaming, Dyment said some language has been updated. Policy 6160: Professional Growth/Staff Development remains largely as it was, Dyment said, and there have been small adjustments to Policy 7511: Immunization of Students, mainly about influenza not being mandatory.

Cipolla also spoke to board members about the statewide mask mandate issued by Gov. Kathy Hochul, which became effective on Dec. 13.

“It really doesn’t change our procedures here,” he said. “We also realize that masks are not tolerated by certain children and, in those cases, we work with the children and their parents.”

Cipolla also told the board that weekly testing for employees is mandated in New York state.

“We have no flexibility when it comes to this,” he said. “Like the masks, this has been renewed by the state.”

Furthermore, Cipolla said, a recent document requires districts to offer pool testing for students.

“We conducted a survey and a very small percentage of people were interested in it,” he said.

At the Nov. 22 meeting, Cipolla presented the results of the survey that the district sent to parents and guardians. The survey asked if parents would or would not be interested in having their children participating in pool testing for COVID. The district received 130 responses, Cipolla said.

“The majority are not interested in having their children take part in the testing,” he said.

Cipolla told the board that, despite the results of the survey, the state now requires the district to offer the testing.

“I feel we are mandated to offer it at this point,” he said. “We will send a message to families letting them know we are offering this.”

During board commentary, board member Tom Tarpley raised the matter of the inability to teach social skills with children wearing masks and maintaining social distance. “I think we need to address this,” he said. “Mandates are coming down and hurting our children and I think we need to address this in the new year.”

Dyment agreed that discussion is always a good idea, but, noted that, “with what’s coming from Albany, our hands are tied.”

Tarpley responded that it is important that boards of education make legislators aware of the impact of their decision.

“I’m not sure the people making the decisions are aware of what’s going on at the ground level,” he said.


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