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BOE brainstorms goals for 2021-22, reviews feedback from last year

PINE PLAINS — With the first two months of the 2021-22 school year underway, the Pine Plains Central School District (PPCSD) Board of Education (BOE) spent a large part of its special meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 20, reviewing its goals from 2020-21 and starting to develop a new set of goals for the current school year.

Beginning at 7 p.m., BOE members assembled for their meeting over Zoom. BOE Vice President Amie Fredericks said the BOE received feedback from PPCSD administrators on whether last year’s goals were met; she invited BOE members to go through each goal concerning curriculum and instruction, business, facilities and the community.

Following tradition, Superintendent of Schools Martin Handler said the BOE could keep a goal if it hadn’t yet been accomplished; if a goal had been accomplished, he said they could toss it or add a new goal.

The BOE members decided to keep in place the goal of having the percentage of a four-year cohort achieving a diploma be at least 95%; the goal for continuing to measure the long-term effectiveness of the district’s Pre-K program; the goal for continuing to maintain opportunities for students with disabilities to participate in regular classes and extracurricular programs; and the goal to evaluate the academic intervention series program and restructure as needed.

Among the goals that were tossed, the BOE decided to take out the goal for reducing the opt-out rate for testing to less than 20% for a year.

Included in last year’s community goals — particularly in regard to the district’s website — BOE members commented on improvements made to the website. BOE member Jim Griffin said he felt the PPCSD does an effective job getting district news and information out between the website and its Facebook page, while Handler said he’s gotten positive feedback on the weekly letters the district issues.

Once the BOE came to the end of last year’s goals, Handler asked if there was anything the board wanted to add as a pressing issue. Griffin said he’d like to have something added for tracking student learning loss performance “and really targeting it as much as we can to their needs.

“We just got through the most unprecedented time in education and distance learning and all that,” Griffin said, adding that fixing the problem would take time.

Fredericks suggested having a goal regarding a smooth transition for the district superintendent position, as Handler plans to retire at year’s end, as well as adding a goal for having high school students involved at BOE meetings.

Taking note of what the district discovered in the remote learning environment, BOE member Chip Couse recalled how the district had “horrible broadband across the spectrum of the school district,” and said the BOE should craft a goal to work with the nine towns within the school district to see if they can upgrade their broadband service.

After the BOE’s discussion came to a close, Handler said they would try to “wordsmith these ideas into something rational” for the next BOE meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.

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