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Questions and Answers have been categorized for easy access. Please check the appropriate category to see if your question has already been answered or use the search feature.

Search for questions already asked/answered

 

For individual or private concerns, please contact the school or district office by phone. We will not answer questions regarding individuals by name.

Please consider contacting individuals who may be able to help you with specific issues rather than sending the question and waiting for an answer.

Do you have SCHOOL WORK or other related issues which are specific to your child?  Please see the district DIRECTORY and contact your child’s teacher or principal.  After contacting them, if you feel you still need to further discuss any issues, please contact the Central Office.  For TRANSPORTATION or FOOD SERVICE questions, use the directory to contact the Supervisors of those departments.  We want to help with questions and concerns so feel free to call or email.

Questions submitted here are emailed to the district's communications office, where it will be determined who could best answer the question, whereupon we will direct the inquiry to that individual. Once the answer is received by the Communications Office, it is posted (which is why some responses may take longer than others).

   
     
     

Q:

I still have not received the results from Math and ELA assessments that my child took last Spring. I was wondering when I could expect to get them?

   
     

A:

The individual student reports (for NYS assessments in grades 3-8) are not yet available from NYSED - the expected release date is mid to late September.

 

   
     

Q:

Why is the school day being shortened by 30 minutes? Is the day being shortened at all grade levels or only in the elementary schools? In all of the budget talks, power points, and discussions I do not recall a shorter school day being talked about. Is this saving the district money? It seems to me that over the course of weeks and months, students are going to be losing a serious amount of instructional time.

   
     

A:

We are excited about our new elementary student day which will begin ten minutes later and end ten minutes earlier. Our main purpose for the change was to provide a more effective instructional day for students. This is accomplished through the use of split specials which will allow teachers to have more direct instruction with a smaller group of students. This will allow for a reduced student to teacher ratios for ELA & Math instruction.


In addition, it is a more effective instructional day because it allows for teacher common planning time (for enhancing collaboration) which has been moved outside the student day. We also have incorporated an integrated library model which will allow for teachers to team teach with the library media specialist. This will increase the use of project-based learning and other instructional methods that will be beneficial for your children.


Lastly, we will accomplish some savings through the compression of our transportation schedules. This is a district wide initiative across all 3 elementary buildings.

   
     

Q:

Will there be summer school offered at Averill Park this year?

   
     

A:

The only summer school offered will be for students with disabilities who are required to have 12 month programming as per his/her individual education plan. Summer school will not be offered at APHS. High School students who require summer school must seek it through a public high school that offers it and will have to pay a fee.
   
     
     

Q: Why all of a sudden are we making up three snow days, when just two weeks ago we were just making up one, and since then we have only had one additional snow day, doesn't that add up to just two?

   
     

A:

The district is working to provide as much instruction as possible for students. Several days were delayed, one day we left early, and we used 7 emergency closing days. We canceled the conference day on March 28th to provide student instruction and added the two days in April. If we do not use any more snow days we will allow students to be released earlier in June. We remain optimistic that we will not use anymore emergency closing days before June but we can not be sure. 
   
     

Q: If we only went over our snow days by 2 days, why are we making up three days? With one of these days being passover. We take off the Jewish holidays, but are sending our children on Passover. Will it be counted as an absence if our children are not there, I also heard that alot of the teachers already have plans and have been excused from school those days, so we will be paying for subs with the budget the way it is, this should not be allowed!!!!

   
     

A:

We are working to provide as much instruction as possible to our students. We plan to have all of our teachers present. If they are unable to attend school they will NOT be paid. We will provide substitute coverage.

   
     

Q:

There is so much excitement about the upcoming production of The Wizard of Oz.  I can tell that it is going to be a wonderful show! How much are tickets?  Can they be reserved in advance?  Thanks for the information; I can't wait to see a performance!

   
     

A:

  • Ticket Prices are $ 5.00 for students and Senior citizens, $7.00 for adults.
  • There will be tickets available in the Elementary Schools starting the week of March 7 through the schools music teacher
  • Additional box-office pre-sale times are Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (March 7, 8, 9) from 4:00pm - 6:00pm inside the main entrance to the High School (by the auditorium at APHS)
  • Checks can be accepted and should be made payable to APHS Drama Club.
  • Seating is first-come, first-served, and the doors open at 6:15 for the evening shows, and at 1:15 for matinees.

 

   
     

Q:

I know that, due to budget cuts, our county has fewer plows on the road during storms and it takes significantly longer to clear the roads. APCSD, therefore,  may need to add school days during part of April break if we use more than one more snow day.  If this situation does occur, will  the school days be added to the beginning of that week, or to the end of that week?  I am trying to plan for that week.

   
     

A:

As of January 31, 2011 we have used four "snow days". We have five built into our calendar. Should we exceed the five we will use days in April break beginning with Monday April 18.

   
     

Q: Does Averill Park have a foreign exchange program for its own students to go to other countries?  I know that we have a few foreign exchange students every year here and was interested in being an exchange student myself.  Thanks!

   
     

A:

We do accept exchange students at APHS. However, we do not offer an exchange option for APHS students at this time. Thank you for your inquiry.

   
     

Q:

How do I get a copy of my transcript? I graduated class of 1998 and need a copy of my HS transcript..

   
     

A:

Thank you for you question regarding transcripts. You may click on this link for the needed form and submit it to the APHS Counseling Center in person or by mail. A more convenient link has now been placed on the AP homepage.

   
     

Q: Would it be possible for the AP school district to post an explanation of State Police and or Renss. County Sheriff activity at the George Washington School building on the district website as it does for other district buildings? Is the district administration made aware when a 911 call is made from the G.W. staff? In an earlier answer it states that G.W. is recognized as an AP School, and we would appreciate the open communication concerning the activity in our neighborhood. Also is there a plan in place for when Questar students exit the building without permission. Could a reverse 911 call be made, particularly in the summer months when our children are out in their yards, on bicycles, walks, etc. or may be home without parents? Thanks for your attention to this matter.

 

   
     

A:

The APCSD does not routinely post to the website if police are involved in a situation. Some situations warrant public notice and are posted, such as the potential chemical spill at Algonquin recently (this turned out to be degreaser and not harmful). The Questar III administration handles the Questar III program located at George Washington School. They will notify Averill Park as they deem necessary. The programs at GWS are well supervised and student safety is paramount. The police are notified to ensure everyone's safety and both the state and local police are working with Questar III to support the students as needed.

   
     

Q:

If I think that there is a problem with my edline, who can I contact. I think the logons we originally used as a parent may have been the students logon since I don't seem to be able to access some information when logging in. So I am not sure if that is the problem or not.

   
     

A: Please contact your child's school for concerns about Edline

 

   
     

Q: Where can you go to get AP apparel, hats, sweatshirts,shirts etc?

   
     

A: The APHS PTO sells these items through an order system and the order forms can be picked up in the main office at APHS.

 

   
     

Q:

Would it be possible to have the questions that are asked to the Board posted so the community can see what is being asked and what the responses are?

   
     

A: The Board of Education would need determine if it wishes to post questions and answers to and from the Board on the website. This question was sent to the Board for consideration. Thank you.

   
     

Q: My kids go to WSL and I have not been able to login to their edline accounts using last year's user ID and password.  Is there something wrong with edline? Or do I need a new account each year?

   
     

A:

If you are having a problem with an Edline account please call your child's school directly for assistance. We are not having general issues with Edline at this time.

   
     
Q:I would like to know why Sand Lake is still part of the Miller Hill Name but George Washington was takenaway completely. Didn't they close Sand Lake just like George Washington?    
     

A:

The Miller Hill/Sand Lake School is considered one school by the State Education Department (SED) as it was previously housed in one building for many years.  As the population expanded, the school used two buildings.  Now that the population has contracted, it is using one building once again.  The SED established the code for this school as one entity and continues to do so, even when the second campus building is used.  Note that there was only one principal for both buildings, and each building is on the same site.

The George Washington School and the Poestenkill School are not in the same situation.  The George Washington School continues to exist as a name and SED code.  It now houses programs run by Questar III.  The name and code for the building remains the same and is recognized as an Averill Park school that currently serves a regional purpose through Questar III.  Poestenkill School has its own code and continues as an AP school serving district students K-5.

   
     

Q:

I was just wondering when the results from the ELA, Math & Science State test the kids took last Spring were going to be given to us?  It seems strange to be starting a whole new school year and we have not received last year's results yet.  Thanks. 

   
     

A:

We agree! The results for parents will be released from the New York State Education department in late September. Once they are released we will send them to parents. This year is unique due to the changes in scoring at the state level.

   
     
     

Q:

My child is going from elementary to middle school and when I now access Edline, no information appears for him. Is there a problem with Edline?

   
     

A:

When a student moves from an elementary school to Algonquin, the student and parent need to activate new accounts.  The necessary information to do this will be provided at Locker Night, which is on September 1st.
   
     

Q:

When are we going to find out exactly how many school buses are going to be used to get the GWS students to PES?  We were told that we would know at the end of the school year in June, and we still don't know.

   
     

A:

The bus routes will be published in the Advertiser and on the district website by next Friday, August 27. This will occur in plenty of time to allow students to be ready for the first day of school. Buses will run the bus route on September 7, the day before school begins, as we do every year.
   
     

Q:

Hi are their separate email address for the Boe members or do we ask here and who moderates the questions if I send an email to a board member who does it go to please explain this new process and how it works thank you  

   
     

A:

There are no individual email addresses provided for BOE members.  Emails to the Board of Education sent to board@averillpark.k12.ny.us automatically go to each individual board member and the Superintendent.  The sender will receive an auto-response indicating e-mail has been received.  If e-mail requires a detailed response one is provided.

   
     

Q:

During the Spring budget presentations it was said that a large number of teachers would lose their positions due to the decrease in enrollment and the financial crisis. 

I am hearing conflicting reports as to the actual number of teachers that will not be returning to AP in the Fall.  What is the exact number of teachers that were let go?  How many teaching positions were estimated being cut during the Spring budget discussions (in the January budget corner section I could see numerous at the high school, special ed and elementary levels)?

If there is a difference in the proposed number and the actual number, why?  And how are these teaching positions now being financed?

Thank you for the clarification.

   
     

A:

Unfortunately, you have been misinformed.  At its April 27, 2010 meeting, the Board of Education abolished 13.8 teaching positions.  The Board has not created new positions since that time.  

 

List of Reductions:

  • High School – 4 positions  
  • Not replaced:     Science (one teacher left for a job in another district )

Math (one retiree)                                                                                          

  • Excessed:           English (one)

Business (one)

  • Middle School –3 Special Education positions
  • Elementary – 6 full time teachers were excessed.  Fortunately, one was able to get a job in another district, and three accepted temporary childcare leave assignments.  (Two for full time teachers, one-half time for just the first part of the year.)  Two were excessed.
  • Part-Time Teaching positions- 3 excessed including .8 FTE nurse position. 
  • One "new" hire - in science due to an unanticipated June retirement.
  • Non-Instructional:  Some of the excessed non-instructional staff (clerical, secretarial, and custodial) will be returning next year, most to different positions, which became available due to retirements and resignations.
  • We do anticipate a few more retirements, and if this occurs, those positions will likely be replaced. The will all be done within the 2010-11 budget approved by the voters.
 

 

   
     

Q:

At the July 13 BOE meeting Steve Valente asked, again, where the amendment for the Questar contract for GWS was, as of then you did not have it, have you received it yet and if you have could you please post it on the AP site. If you haven\'t received it yet, why is that?

   
     

A:

The district received the letter from the Questar Superintendent as expected. The document will become public after the Board receives it at the next meeting.

   
     

Q:

I'd like to know how many teachers have actually been laid off? The public was told at least 12 if the budget was passed but I've heard we've only lost 3 far AND you've made a position for someone.

   
     

A:

Unfortunately, you have been misinformed.  At its April 27, 2010 meeting, the Board of Education abolished 13.8 teaching positions.  The Board has not created new positions since that time.  

 

List of Reductions:

  • High School  4 positions  
  • Not replaced: Science (one teacher left for a job in another district )

Math (one retiree)                                                                                          

  • Excessed: English (one)

Business (one)

  • Middle School 3 Special Education positions
  • Elementary 6 full time teachers were excessed.  Fortunately, one was able to get a job in another district, and three accepted temporary childcare leave assignments.  (Two for full time teachers, one-half time for just the first part of the year.)  Two were excessed.
  • Part-Time Teaching positions- 3 excessed including .8 FTE nurse position. 
  • One "new" hire - in science due to an unanticipated June retirement.
  • Non-Instructional:  Some of the excessed non-instructional staff (clerical, secretarial, and custodial) will be returning next year, most to different positions, which became available due to retirements and resignations.
  • We do anticipate a few more retirements, and if this occurs, those positions will likely be replaced. The will all be done within the 2010-11 budget approved by the voters.

 

   
     

Q:

I am curious what the large piece of new equipment is outside of GWS?  If this is for a new system or a repair?  Was it included in the budget?

   
     

A:

It is a connector for a portable generator.  It is part of the capital project begun in 2008, each school will be equipped with a generator hookup so that in the event of a power failure a portable generator may be attached to the connector at each school to keep essential functions operational.  This has been in the budget and has been part of the plan.  
   
     

Q:

It appears that a considerable amount of construction is being done in the high school, including an expensive entry system, and bathroom remodeling. If these costs are considered general building maintenance, were they budgeted for in the 2010-2011 budget?
   
     

A:

The work being done at the high school would have been done in any case, especially the painting, bathroom work, and repairs.  The cost of this building maintenance was budgeted for 2010-1. The entry systems are being placed on most doors in the district as part of our last building project. Please see the third and fifth questions below yours for similar information.
   
     
Q:Also pallets of cardboard boxes have arrived in the elementary schools for packing, were these purchased and aren't they considered a cost of moving?    
     

A:

Regarding boxes:  every year, summer work on one or more of the elementary schools requires that teachers pack up their classrooms for the summer.  The boxes you mention are part of this.  Boxes are provided for teachers to move their classrooms. We purchase boxes as we need them, or as old ones become useless.  It is an annual occurrence.
   
     

Q:

Is there a district policy regarding construction, and painting while school is in session? It seems like it would be unhealthy for the students, and a noisy distraction
   
     

A:

Construction work in an active area is carefully monitored. Areas of work are either closed off to students and noise minimized or the work is done when school is not in session.  We often have to do work during the school year as projects are begun whenever there is an opportunity to do them.  All necessary steps are taken to protect the people in the building.

   
     

Q:

Was it necessary to put a Real Estate sign up at Sand Lake while the children were still attending?

   
     

A:

Regarding Real Estate sign:  the children, parents, and teachers of SL are all aware that classes will move next door in the fall.  The opportunity to rent SL to an educational organization is greatest before school ends; therefore, we have taken every opportunity to create income for the district by renting the building as soon as possible.  The policy of the BOE is to attempt to mitigate the financial impact of providing education for the districts students on the community.  Renting SL as soon as possible will do that.
   
     

Q:

Are flags not available for the Memorial Day weekend? Miller Hill has no US Flag today, Saturday

   
     

A:

Flags are not flown on weekends at our schools. However, on Memorial Day, Mr. Ernest was kind enough to raise the flag during the parade and lower it afterwards.  The flag was up for the parade and shortly thereafter

   
     
Q:Are all the freshmen sports cut????    
     

A:

All current sports will remain in place for the 2010-2011 school year.  This includes freshman sports.
   
     

Q:

I want to know the exact steps that are being taken with merger of GW and PES. I want to know all the safety issues that are being taken, I want to know all the bus issues, I want to know all the ratios of student to teacher, I want to know the number of kids per classroom, I want to know why there isn't a staff list on the PES website to look over, I want to know when the GW kids will have a tour of the building, I want to know if there will be an orientation over the summer, I want to know when we will know who our child's teacher is, I want to know when we get to meet all of the staff at PES including not instructional. Knowing that there only 23 days left of school I think we need these answers and more information before summer vactation.    This process was way to fast and I feel that you and your staff are not taking things seriously with over crowded classrooms and buses.

   
     

A:

Thank you for giving us an opportunity to provide this information to all of our PES and soon to be PES parents. The answers to the things you want to know are as follows:

As a member of the transition team you must be aware of the work that is being done to provide each student with a good transition experience. The administration and teachers in both schools are taking extraordinary steps to make sure the students from each school do well during this transition.  Each grade level is doing a different event and the K-2 students are going to Poestenkill for Magic Moments, which is their morning program.   Please contact Ms. Goldstein or Mr. DeWitt for further details.

The parents of GW students have already participated in a PES Open House, which took place on Monday, May 10th. The student tours will happen as students come over for their scheduled visits.   Any information discussed by the transition teams, of which you are a part, has been uploaded to the GW and PES EDline page.

Safety issues are always taken into consideration in every school on a continuing basis. The school nurses, safety teams from both buildings as well as district staff have met and will continue to meet regularly to discuss safety drills and concerns. This is standard procedure for each building.

Class sizes will be within guidelines established by the Board of Education. (K-3 is 18-22; 4-5 is 23 to 25).  Although the student population is larger in Poestenkill, the class size ratio remains similar, again, within board guidelines. This will remain true for next year as well.

As we do every year, we will provide students with their classroom assignments at the end of the school year.   Support staff is not placed until the end of the summer.  The PES PTA is planning a summer event and we have heard that many parents from GW have already taken their children to the PES playground to get them acquainted with the school.

As for the staff not taking this process seriously, that is not true at all.  All staff in both buildings care deeply for the children and they understand that this change will require extra care being taken to acquaint both student populations with each other.  It is our hope that our parents from both buildings will assist in this transition by talking positively with their children about the new opportunities they will have in the coming year.  They will meet new friends and have new experiences.

There is no overcrowding on busses or in classrooms now, nor will there be next year. 

Thank you for your question

 
   
     

Q:

Can you please review the savings on the consolidation of GW and SL?  The district said the savings was 350,000 for GW.  Does that include the amount for rental?  Where does teh 150,000 that I've heard mentioned in blogs come from?  It's a little confusing. Is it possible to sit down with someone and actually look at the figures in the schools' books?

   
     

A:

This cost breakdown is on the budget corner. (see link below)   $350,000 savings is the accurate amount. The net rental income is expected to be at least $200,000 for GWS. Please click on this link and review the breakdown. If you continue to have questions feel free to set up a meeting with Assistant Superintendent Mike Ouimet. http://www.averillpark.k12.ny.us/budgetcorner/documents/costbreakdown.pdf
   
     

Q:

I have read on other blogs that a former school board member did a sound system installation for the district, and then billed it through Tremont Lumber to avoid the scrutiny of the Comptroller's office who was coming in shortly thereafter to audit the District?
   
     

A:

Since we have not read what you have, it is difficult to know what was written or how accurate it is.  Blogs often provide hearsay and inaccurate information.  As our financial records are open to all, the transaction that you mention is a matter of record and can be viewed by appointment, at the business office by any interested parties.  

While a member of the board, the party to which you refer was involved in providing and installing sound equipment in Algonquin Middle School in the amount of $13,846.  He performed the work for the Council on the Arts Club and was paid by an extra-curricular activity account, which was apparently funded by donations and fundraisers.  After the work was completed, he requested that the payment be made in a check payable to Tremont Lumber.  We are unaware of any connection of this activity to any audit by the Comptroller.  Board members are "required to disclose any interest.... that may create an appearance of impropriety"(Gen Mun Law 800; 803). When this activity was discovered sometime later by the business office, procedures were changed to ensure that the purchasing practices of the District be more transparent and to avoid any appearance of conflicts.

   
     

Q:I thought that the Meet the Candidates session was very informative last night.  Is there anyway that it can be posted on the website so that those who could not make it can "meet the candidates" as well?

   
     

A:

The video will be posted on the Board site. We will also link this from the candidates page. The video is usually posted after the meeting airs on the public access channel on the Thursday following the meeting. Thank you for your question.

   
     

Q:

Please provide an overview of the bus replacement plan.  At what point is a bus judged to need replacing?  Is it mileage?  Age?  Do we sell our used buses?  What will happen if the bus referendum fails?

   
     

A:

The district developed a bus replacement plan several years ago.  We replace busses on a seven-year cycle.  Typically a bus will have over 100,000 miles on it and is just out of warranty by the time it reaches 7 years in service.  If we keep a bus longer than 7 years it begins to have costly repairs. The trade-in value at seven years is much higher than after 8 or 9.  If it is damaged by rust or certain other factors, the bus must be taken out of service completely.  A bus is inspected every 6 months by DOT in order for it to remain a safe and viable vehicle to transport children.  The scrutiny with which a bus is inspected far exceeds what a private citizen's personal car must undergo.

 The district receives approximately 78% back in aid on each bus over a five-year period, in alignment with the debt service payments.  The bus proposition on the ballot asks the public to approve the district's ability to borrow to buy the buses.  It has no impact on the expense budget for next year.  By continuing the replacement plan cycle we are always receiving aid to offset the expense.

Please take a look at the financial explanation in detail at

http://www.averillpark.k12.ny.us/budgetcorner/documents/buspropostion2010.pdf

   
     

Q: I am trying to understand the budget. There are many facts and some rumors floating around, and I would like to make my voting decision based on facts. I was impressed to read that the new budget has cut $500,000.00 from the budget this year, especially with the cost of gas, food, and resources increasing nationwide. Can your clarify why our taxes are going up by 1.9% despite a significantly reduced budget?  I need clarification of what the GAP in the budget is.
Thank you for your time.

 

   
     

A:

The district lost $2.5 million in state aid.  This loss in aid is often referred to as the Governor's GAP adjustment.  If we receive more aid than predicted we will lower levy.  Given that the state still has no budget, we are unsure of the actual amount of funding we will receive.  The way budget voting currently works in NYS, districts have to prepare budgets prior to the State’s budget being passed.  Our hope is that the Governor's proposal is the "worst case" scenario.  

The BOE and the superintendent put together a budget that reduces spending compared to last year's budget, by $517,787.  The BOE and Superintendent had to provide for the cut in state aid, which means the budget had to be decreased by that amount plus more, to arrive at a reasonable tax levy. 

The district newsletter will arrive in your mailbox soon. It is also on line at the Budget Corner. Please read it for more details.

   
     

Q: I would like the Superintendent to explain why,during these tough economic times, she feels it necessary to spend taxpayer dollars on remodeling her office and having a private bathroom installed? How are we to support her budget when she makes it very clear that there is so much discretionary money available to her? First she uses the postage meter and school stationary for her personal mail and now is having a personal bathroom, carpeting, and who knows what else installed. Is she aware that this is not the time for such luxuries?

   
     

A:

It is unfortunate that you have received inaccurate information, as it is NOT true that the superintendent is getting a remodeled office. In fact, the office the superintendent currently has was not only painted and decorated using her own funds, but the superintendent actually did the work herself at no cost to the district. The superintendent is not getting a remodeled office. The superintendent is moving back to APHS into the space designed originally for the previous superintendent in 1997.

In fact the entire central office is moving back to this area. Since moving out of this space in 2001 the space has been utilized as classroom space. There is a bathroom there that has been used for students with disabilities and all stalls have been removed to accommodate the students. This bathroom will be the bathroom for the entire district office and must have the stalls replaced. It is not being remodeled, it is being made useable by adults.

 

The office areas are being cleaned and painted now instead of over the summer when this usually occurs to allow it to be completed as the district has the opportunity. These areas would have to be painted and cleaned anyway. In any case, this would be part of general building maintenance. Since the district office occupies classroom space in Miller Hill, the district office, including the business office must move out so teachers in Sand Lake can pack and move as they need to over the next six weeks.

 

The furniture and equipment in the superintendent’s current office will be moved to this space. No new items are being purchased for this move. Should the superintendent desire any new furniture, etc., she will purchase her own as she usually does.

The superintendent reimbursed the district for $11.88 for her congratulatory cards to the confirmandi of St. Henry’s Church, where she is a communicant. The superintendent recently sent congratulatory cards to the first Communion Class at St. Henry’s at her own expense. Perhaps you missed the posting, but this was previous clarified. Please read the answer below yours regarding this same issue.

 

Thank you for your email. At APCSD we appreciate being able to point out inaccurate perceptions. We would be unable to do this without questions like yours.

 

   
     

Q:

Over the last two months there has been alot of rummors flying.  So first thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.

Recently I have been hearing and receiving phone calls that the administration/BOE is discussing "selling" GWS.  It has been my understanding that a lease is being worked on between AP Lawyers and Questar.  This was discussed at GWS PTO meeting in April.  A handout was also given to us about Questar.

Can you tell me if this rummor is true concerning the possible sale of GWS.

   
     

A:

The Board  of Education is NOT selling GWS, SL or any other building in the district. The BOE is in final negotiations with Questar to complete a lease for GWS. It will be a five year lease with a clause to "break" the lease with 12 months notice if district enrollment warrants the reopening of GWS. Sand Lake is being offered for lease by a commercial realtor.  Thank you for your question, it is important that the community be assured that no buildings will be sold.
   
     

Q:

I have been reading the blogs that parents have been posting on the current fiscal/school district affairs.  Is it true that emails sent to the BOE members, actually go directly to Dr Jo Moccia?  It appears that when one community resident spoke at a recent BOE meeting inquiring why his emails to the BOE never get a response, the BOE members just looked at one another??  I hope that this is not the case.  I would like a reply to this in the Answer Place, to assure the Averill Park community that there is nothing to hide.  Thank you.  (If I dont hear from you at this Answer Place, I assume that our guess is correct).

   
     

A:

Emails sent via the district website to BOE members go directly to the BOE president, Neil Bonesteel.  Then they are forwarded to the entire BOE and are copied to the superintendent.

No one had contacted us or let us know that  emails were not being responded to until we heard about it at the BOE meeting you mention.  As far as the information you read on a blog, we hope that if anyone has a concern like that, they would speak directly to Mr. Bonesteel or another BOE member, or even call the district.  The only reason an email to the BOE would go unanswered is if it was not received.  

The BOE has now set up an auto-response on the email system to let those sending an email know that it has been received. The entire BOE receives each and every email that is addressed to them.  Thank you for your question, we appreciate your concern. 

 

   
     

Q:

Is the 5th grade recognition ceremony on June 22nd also considered the graduation ceremony?  I've heard parents with older kids refer to a 5th grade graduation ceremony that involved rehearsal, etc

   
     

A:

Though some refer to it as “graduation,” the only actual graduation is from APHS.  At the end of 5th grade and then again at the end of 8th grade, the ceremony we have is called “Moving Up.”  It is in recognition of the fact that the student is entering a new phase of their education.  “Moving Up” does involve some rehearsal and families are invited to celebrate the occasion along with their child’s class.  If this does not fully answer your question, please feel free to discuss this with the principal of your child’s school.  Thank you.

   
     

Q:

A posting was made on a blog concerning a letter that Dr. Moccia sent to some local children and congratulating them for achieving confermation at St. Henry's.  School stationary and postage was used along with a bibel verse.  Is it a common practice for the Superintendent to use school supplies for somthing that is extremly personal?  Does she send such correspondance out to all the children in the district, regardless of faith, when religious milestones are achieved?  How does she get the information from the churches and temples - isn't there a privacy issue at stake?  Since Averill Park School District is not a Catholic school, doesn't this violate Church and State seperation?  I'm sure the motive was genuine, but using taxpayer stationary and postage for personal and religeous messages should not be allowed.

   
     

A:

The short answer to your first two questions is yes. Anything that encourages young people to take an active role in their community and which encourages them to keep roots in Averill Park is part of the Superintendent’s job to promote. The names of students are normally placed in the newspaper or as part of a public record. Most churches, synagogues, and other places of worship place the names and pictures of a confirmation class for all to see. It is a matter of accomplishment, not something that most people wish to hide.
For years now, Dr. Moccia has been sending congratulatory messages to Averill Park students for all manner of accomplishments, including rites of passage such as Bar or Bat Mitzvahs, Confirmations, first Communions, etc. Thus, there is no discrimination for or against any particular activity or religion. The purpose of doing so is to connect the academic activities of our students (and their academic achievements) to their outside endeavors in a way that supports the “whole person” aspect of educating and raising children to be successful, in school and other activities.


Though it is true that few Superintendents spend as much time as Dr. Moccia in the community, she has been in the Averill Park School Community for twenty four years, so it is not unusual for her to take an interest in AP’s students and parents, many of whom she has seen grow up.


The Superintendent recognizes the accomplishments of the District’s students in the Community at large, as well as the within the schools. She also sends condolences, attends wakes and funerals, many of which are held in a religious place, and she recognizes the Boy and Girl Scouts, the Arts, and other areas of accomplishment for her students. She attends banquets, art openings, concerts, plays, sports events, and many other community-oriented activities that her students participate in. However, the Superintendent does pay out of pocket for most of these activities.

Dr. Moccia regularly recognizes the many accomplishments of the district’s students, and while possibly ignoring the ones with religious interests might be best to some people, it does not seem that as part of the community, the school district, which the superintendent represents, should ignore the fact that our students and their families reach certain milestones in their lives. The District is part of the Averill Park community, and as such has a responsibility to act as a supportive community member.

We do after all say the pledge every morning, which does mention God. The particular note that you mention was certainly more personal than most, simply because Dr. Moccia is a parishioner of St Henry’s, and there is greater meaning for her in the commitment of young people to the St Henry’s Community. However, you are correct. Perhaps in this case, it would have been best to have the Superintendent pay for the greeting herself. Dr. Moccia has reimbursed the District the $11.88 for this mailing.

While legally, even though recognizing a religious milestone for a student may be , as you pointed out, blurring the Church and State lines, it is not illegal, nor is it a misuse of public funds, and it is not uncommon. Again, as a Community member, the school district is represented by the Superintendent and has a responsibility to encourage its students to create strong community ties. Children who create a bond with community organizations, such as church, Boy Scouts, sports teams, etc, are found to become more successful, better citizens, and more responsible adults. After all, a school’s most important job is to foster future civic responsibility so that our community, our state, and our country will remain strong.

Thank you for your comments; I hope I have answered your concerns.

   
     

Q:

Can you tell me what people are talking about regarding the assurances to GWS?  Does that mean that AP promised to never close the school?

   
     

A:


The assurances that were provided to the GWS community 16 years ago were relevant at that time and have been honored for GWS as per the agreement. In 2003 they were reviewed and dissolved as no longer needed. No one could have possibly anticipated the current fiscal situation when the GW district and APCSD merged, nor was this level of crisis anticipated when the assurances were dissolved 7 years ago.
Given the current NYS financial crisis, if the assurances had not been dissolved, the assurances still allowed for reconsideration when “compelling forces press the Averill Park Board to reconsider its commitment to one or more of these assurances.” (As per item 15 in Assurances)


Each year the BOE had the option of reauthorizing the assurances. The assurances to the GWS community were honored for 16 years. They continue to be honored in that provisions were made for significant changes to APCSD’s situation. Please look at FAQ on our budget site where there is more accurate information about this and other topics regarding GWS.
Thank you for contacting us with your question.

   
     

Q: I read that East Greenbush Central Schools receive over $200,000. in adminstrative efficiency aid, and are one of the few schools to receive such aid based on a low expense level and administrative staffing. If in fact AP is the most administratively lean school district in the area do we apply for and receive this aid?

 

   
     

A:

This is a broadly defined ratio of administrative costs against overall budget. The larger the budget, the more likely the district will get the aid. As you can see, most smaller districts will not receive this aid because to some extent all smaller districts have similar administrative costs when measured within this set of criteria. For instance, all districts might be within the .07 - .15 admin cost to budget ratio, which for this criteria may seem close, but it in actuality is not.

If you look at the basic numbers, as we define administrative costs (the costs of providing administration for the district) AP is one of the lowest, if not the lowest in the area. We would not get this kind of aid because of that and because our budget is lower than the criteria it seems used for this aid.

If you notice in the attached documents (document 1) (document 2)that set forth the Foundation’s criteria, the State sharing ratio for Foundation aid is limited to high need/ high resource capacity districts. It is a complex formula for criteria that APCSD does not meet. All of the schools, which received this aid, have a higher admin to budget ratio than APCSD. This aid was based on 2007-8 budgets, which will no doubt change for the 2008-9 and 2009-10 years.

From short list of school districts, which received this aid, you will see that the only anomaly is Burnt Hills; the rest are very large school districts. Why Burnt Hills was eligible for this aid is unknown to us, but looking at the straightforward numbers, BH has a higher admin cost to budget ratio than APCSD. For the 2007-8 budget years BH had slightly smaller enrollment numbers than APCSD, though this may or may not have been the tipping point.

As you can see from the criteria listed it is a complex formula and it is not the kind of aid we can apply for. If you review the aid formula and have suggestions or questions, we would be glad to attempt to answer them. APCSD would most certainly like to receive this aid; so far, we have not had the opportunity to do so.

   
     

Q:Can you petition NYS for more funds?

   
     

A: New York State prepares a budget with specific amounts for education. While we use every opportunity the State and Federal government gives us to attract funds to our district, it is highly unlikely the State will provide extra funds for one district. However, on a regular basis we meet with and contact our legislators to let them know what we need, and what we would like to see in terms of school funding. We have petitioned state government for more funds, though at this point it does not look like any will be forthcoming. The wheels of government move slowly, and even if there were going to be some kind of assistance for schools, we would have to wait along with all other NY schools for that possibility to happen.
If anything changes we will make adjustments to reflect the higher financial assistance to the budget, but consolidating schools is also about enrollment, not just budget.

 

   
     

Q:What buildings are considered for closing?

   
     

A: George Washington School (GW) and Sand Lake (SL).

   
     

Q:Is West Sand Lake (WSL) closing?

   
     

A:Closing WSL School has never been considered, nor is it being considered now. The Board of Education (BOE) & District leadership team are analyzing the consolidation of the elementary department into the largest 3 elementary buildings. (WSL, Miller Hill & Poestenkill)

   
     

Q:Why so sudden?

   
     

A:Consolidating Sand Lake and George Washington has been discussed for several years. The most recent analysis began in December 2008 during discussions with the district budget stakeholder group. Two outside consultants have studied district enrollment trends and provided reports to the BOE. The projections indicate the feasibility of consolidation. Both of the schools under consideration represent the smallest portion of students in the District. Sand Lake and Miller Hill (MH) share the K-5 population and Miller Hill is large enough to accommodate the Sand Lake students and leave room for future growth.

GW was previously considered for consolidation because of the cost to student ratio. Even at capacity, the cost ratio is not practical when other buildings with better cost ratios are available for use.

 

   
     

Q:Where will kids be assigned?

 

   
     

A:Under the current recommendations, GW students will go to Poestenkill and Sand Lake students to Miller Hill.

   
     

Q:Will students be split among the 3 schools?

   
     

A:We will be keeping kids with their respective neighborhood group and they will all move to the same school. The group will not be split among three schools.

   
     

Q:Are you willing to consider parent feedback? 

   
     

A:Yes, we will be working with parents to assist in moving the GW and SL cohorts to their new building. Parent input is welcomed and encouraged.

   
     

Q:We moved to GW for the community school.  Why are you taking this community school away from us? 

   
     

A:While GW may seem to some as a small community school it is indeed part of the K-12 Averill Park School District. Children in all district elementary schools have the same opportunities and benefits as those in GW. As a district our students are afforded the same rights, and responsibilities, regardless of which building they inhabit.

   
     

Q:What are class sizes?

   
     

A:For K–3 class size will be 18-22 students per class. For grades 4-5, 23-25 per class. These numbers are the BOE guidelines and will not be exceeded. (The BOE class size guidelines are below NYS guidelines)

   
     
     

Q:Why not close a failing school instead?

   
     

A:All of our schools are high performing. We do not have any failing schools in APCSD. We are meeting or exceeding standards and our graduation rate is above 90%.

   
     

Q:Could GW share space with Questar?

   
     

A:GW could share space with Questar, however, this does not provide the needed cost savings or consolidation. The point of consolidation is to run more cost efficiently. Keeping that building open as part of APCSD will not help to reduce costs because empty classrooms in other schools will still exist.

   
     

Q:Why have our kids on the bus 30–45 minutes? 

   
     

A:Bus rides vary based on location of residence. Routes within all of our neighborhood schools are designed to keep student ride time to a minimum. APCSD includes approximately 140 square miles.

   
     

Q:What is the cost of moving the Administrative offices ?

   
     

A:Office furniture, equipment, etc. is already owned either by the district or the administrator. The administrators would be responsible for their own personal effects. There would be little to no cost of moving the furniture as we would use existing staff and volunteers. If the offices move back to where they were at APHS there would be very little to redesign. The rooms at MH also need very little to be ready for students.

   
     

Q:What is the cost of set up in the new schools (for GW and SL kids)?

   
     

A:At the end of every year, students move to a new grade, with a new teacher, and new classroom. This would not be any different. Poestenkill and Miller Hill are already up and running. We would be using classroom space that is meant for classroom use and we will not displace areas designed for Art, Music, PE, cafeteria, etc. The administrative offices did not create any permanent barriers to turning the space back to classrooms so the cost would be minimal. Each year we do work in the summer and funds are in the budget for this purpose.

   
     

Q:How will space be used in GW and SL?

   
     

A:The buildings will be rented to keep them in good repair without an expense to the district. This way should enrollment go up, the buildings could be used again for APCSD classrooms.

   
     

Q:Is GW going to be a vocational school? 

 

   
     

A:No. Questar is interested in GW for an academy for students with disabilities. However, no decisions on who will rent the building have been made.

   
     

Q:Will we go through this emotional exercise again if GW is not closed this year? 


   
     

A:Yes, it is very likely that this issue will continue to come up, as it has in previous years. As long as elementary enrollment continues at this lower level the district would be remiss in not considering this possibility to increase operating efficiency

   
     

Q:Why will my property value decrease in the GW district? 

   
     

A:GW is in APCSD. Some have noted that not having a community elementary school may cause a decrease in property value. However, research has indicated that high school taxes would drive property values down.

   
     

Q:I just heard that the Averill Park High School will be dismissing at 10:45 on Friday, 3/26 so the students can attend a basketball game. I\'m wondering how much this will cost the lunch program, as no lunches will be bought on that day, and are the cafeteria workers paid anyway? Also are we paying our teachers until the end of the day, even though there are no students to teach?
I'm assuming the bus cost will not come from the district, but do we consider the mileage put on the buses for events such as this? (posted March 22, 2010)


   
     

A: 

We have never had a situation such as this one in the past. The Lady Warriors as I imagine you know, are the NY State champions in their division, which is an amazing accomplishment. Being invited to the Federation game on Friday is an honor for our girls and our District. The chances of this occurring again are rather slim. This is an exceptional issue and there is little cost to the district associated with this.

We are ahead financially for this series of events since two of the games were played at HVCC. Local games take very little effort on the school’s part to transport the team. We also saved the cost of transporting the team to Potsdam. The school bus and driver, which would normally have driven our girls to the Potsdam game, were unnecessary as the Booster Club financed a coach bus for the girls, and the spectators paid their own way on a private bus.

The cafeteria workers are not paid, as they will not be working on Friday. Teachers are paid an annual salary and they will all work the required days to fulfill their contractual obligations, which are numerous and are not solely limited to the time they spend teaching.

The spectators are paying their own way to Friday’s event and the athletes have their transportation cost paid for by the athletic association. The dismissal time allows for the busses that normally take our VOTEC students to be used for the midday run. We have also received a series of donations to cover any additional cost to the district. This is not an annual event but a very exceptional accomplishment and our district is very proud of our scholar/athletes. Thank you.

 

   
     

Q: 

It seems that every time I turn on the local news, a teacher or student from Averill Park is being highlighted for their achievments!  I think that is fantastic and am always thrilled to see the reports on these amayzing students and teachers.  But, and I could be wrong, it seems that when I watch the B.O.E. meetings on t.v. there is no mention of these reports by either the Superintendent or B.O.E. members.  I would think it would be the first thing mentioned by either the B.O.E. President or the Superintendent in one of the updates.  Are they not aware of the many \"Teacher of the Week\" awards that have been given to many of our staff?  Are they not aware of the many student athletes that have been highlighted?  They certainly like to show when the Superintendent is being interviewed about budget and teacher cuts.  Why do the B.O.E. meetings always have to be doom and gloom - why not share with the community at the B.O.E. meetings just how wonderful our teachers and students are. (posted February 13, 2010)

   
     

A:  

This comment is somewhat puzzling as at every BOE meeting, immediately after the Pledge of Allegiance the Superintendent provides a rundown of the District’s highlights, including awards and television coverage of our students and teachers.  We checked the link for the televised version of the most recent meeting and it did indeed have this segment.  Perhaps you are missing the beginning of the meeting as the announcements occur so early on.

Another way we make sure to point out the great work our teachers, students, and staff do is on our website.  To get to the BOE meeting video link you must bring up our website, so it is also possible to view all of these wonderful events there as well.

The Superintendent sends out a weekly e-mail where she lauds achievements, provides congratulations, offers thanks, and points out events such as future television spots featuring students and/or teachers.  The Superintendent directs people to the Teacher of the Week segment when one of our teachers is spotlighted, as well as noting other highlights like the Sand Lake students who raised $1800 for Haiti and were interviewed by Channel 10.

From time to time, we have students and teachers present at BOE meetings to highlight their work and their awards.  We are all very proud of our teachers, students, and staff.  We make it a point to consistently provide coverage of events that are of interest to the community and which emphasize the talent and work of our teachers and students.  Thank you for noticing them in the media.

The student athletes in particular have been featured regularly, as have all of our sports teams and their coaches.

BOE meetings are work sessions for the BOE and Administration, and though there is from time to time bad news or as we have now, a large issue like the budget, these sessions generally take the form of answering questions for the BOE and public and brainstorming to create solutions.

The Administration is particularly proud of the work that is being done with our students and  it attempts to reflect that at every opportunity.  We hope that you will be able to catch the beginning of the next BOE meeting so that you may be able to listen to the highlights.  Thank you for your question.

   
     

Q: 

This is a 2 part question: First, several years ago the Admin. pleaded with the BOE and taxpayers that it was very necessary for the quality education of our children that we hire an additional 19 teachers.  Scare tactics were used and the budget allowed for the hirings.  Now, just a few years later the BOE and taxpayers are given another scare tactic of having to fire as many teachers using class sizes and low enrollment numbers as the excuses.  Why is the Admin. having a difficult time forcasting the needs of the school district?  Secondly, why are there never any Admin. jobs put on the chopping block?  If we have so fewer students then why do we still need to be so top heavy in Administrators?

   
     
A:

During the past several years the Administration and the BOE working with the Capital District Regional Planning Commission accurately predicted that though our enrollment had become significantly higher for the time, it would begin to decline as population forecasts for NYS were that the birthrates would be lower in the very near future.  At the time, we had to hire new staff to keep our recommended class sizes.  Our current enrollment, as we accurately predicted is lower and will continue to decline slightly.  This is the case throughout NYS; AP is not unique in this.  

The biggest increase in number of teachers happened in 2003, which was the year our overall district enrollment was at its highest.  (3546 students) 2003 was the same year we moved to Full Day Kindergarten - so essentially we doubled our number of Kindergarten sections. Our enrollment is now at 3367 and we are at 259 FT teachers this year.  Over this year, we have had students move out of the district, so we now are at 3351.  This number is in flux due to economic issues, the slow housing market, and low birth rates.  The difference between the highest recent enrollment to our current enrollment is 179 less students across K-12, with a concurrent net decline in six teaching positions over the same period The Administration has discussed this issue with the BOE for the last several years.  It is not a situation that was unexpected, and in fact, every NYS school district, except for inner cities is experiencing lower enrollment and birthrates.  People also tend to put off having children during an economic recessionary period, which will affect enrollment for the next several years. As for administrators, AP is the most administratively lean school district in the area, and one of the lowest in NYS.  We have the lowest percentage of budget going to administrative salaries of any district in the area.  As a matter of fact, we had to petition the Commissioner of Education to allow us to continue to use one principal to serve two schools (Miller Hill and Sand Lake ).  Additionally, one principal serves as principal and Director of Special Education.  Each of our administrators serves multiple roles as leaders in curriculum and other district work.  Our administrative budget is only 7.5% of the total district budget, which is significantly below the state and local average.  The truth is that even with fewer students, we still will have too few administrators, as I noted each of our administrators serves more than one job in our district. We present the facts on enrollment every year, and we have already presented the enrollment picture for next few years.  We continually provide information to the public as it becomes available, and it is available on our website.  If you wish further information, please feel free to request it from our office.  Neither the Superintendent nor the BOE has any control over the birth rate or enrollment rate in AP.  We are experiencing exactly the same issues that every single school district in NYS is experiencing.  In fact, we are exactly where the Capital District Regional Planning Commission predicted we would be at this point.  Finally, enrollment beyond five years ahead is nearly impossible to predict, as children at the lower levels are not born yet.   

As a comparison, for 2009-2010:
Averill
Park
administrative portion 7.5%  

East Greenbush 11.9%
North Colonie
11.8%

Burnt Hills 10.7%

 
   
     
     

Q: 

Hi can you tell me the agenda for the long Range Planning Process Next Meeting January 19, 2010 I am hearing George Washington School is on the agenda for being closed can you give the public a heads up so they can be part of this discussion (please post this so others can be informed of this topic if this is fact. thank you (posted January 8, 2010)

   
     

A:

The Long Range Planning process is underway.  Like every NYS school district, we have and will continue to examine our entire District for the implementation of cost saving measures.  Maximizing  the use of our facilities will no doubt be discussed.  The Board of Education has no definitive plans to close any building at this time; however, it has not discounted this or  any ideas that could save resources. 

The agenda for the January 19th meeting includes an initial review of the recently drafted building capacity and current enrollment study which is only the first of three parts of our complete study (the remaining parts are: enrollment projections and possible scenarios).

Everyone is welcome to join us for these meetings.  We would appreciate your questions and input.   We ask you to keep in mind that we are in a similar budget position that every NYS school district is in.  NYS has not made any funding guarantees as of yet, and we must find ways to work with the resources we have available, while being sensitive to the needs of our taxpayers.

   
     

Q:  I recently was told that AP school district was expanded through parts of Wynantskill. Where in Wynantskill do you have to live in order to be able to attend APCSD? (posted December 21)

   
     
A:  Thank you for your question.  I am sorry, the information you have received is not accurate.  The APCSD boundaries have not changed.  There has been no expansion of APCSD boundaries at this time.  If that should ever change, we will make certain to alert anyone that may be affected.    
     
Q:   Do illegal absences from school affect a student's participation in extra-curricular activities? (posted November 3)    

   

A: 

All athletes are required to sign the Athletic Blue Card, which provides guidelines for their conduct on and off the field.  The Blue Card states that a student will arrive on time for school each day.  If a student/athlete is tardy or absent without a legitimate excuse the consequence is that the student would not be allowed to practice with his/her team or would not be allowed to attend an event.  Students who participate in extra curricular activities are also obligated to follow these same rules.   I hope this answers your questions, if you have more specific issues you would like to discuss, please feel free to contact the Director of Health, Safety and Physical Education or , Ms. MacGilfrey Principal Colleen Gomes.   Thank you.

   
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
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