Indian Lake Central School
The Indian Lake School Board devoted a healthy share of its four-hour meeting Tuesday, Jan. 15 to understanding and evaluating what role, if any, online venues such as Facebook should play in primary education.
It came to the board’s attention that a number of teachers were using Facebook as a tool in the process of affording more convenient communication and involvement among teachers, parents and students. Board members had voiced some concern over the fact that though the individual teachers were placing these pages online, the ultimate responsibility for any negative repercussions would be with the school district.
In an effort to better understand how Facebook was being used and to help board members get their arms around whether this practice should continue, teacher Kelley Walker provided the board a demonstration of her Facebook page on a large interactive screen in her classroom.
In her presentation, Walker said her page is tightly controlled in that she restricts “friends” access to the page to primarily parents of her students. She has found that the use of the page makes communication efficient and convenient for parents. She also said she has noticed an increased involvement of the parents in the education process as a result of their Facebook use.
Board members were quick to recognize the benefits of Facebook, especially at the lower grade levels where parents are generally the ones with whom the teacher communicates about lesson plans, class activities, special events, student performance, etc.
However, there was also a concern over some of the “sharing” nature of social media that may be uncontrollable and over the fact that what may work well in lower grades for younger students may not be as useful or appropriate in more advanced grade levels.
Although they recognize Facebook’s value, board members also recognize their responsibility to work with teachers and administrators to craft a policy, which, as Board President Jon Voorhees said, “balances the benefit with the risks” of using social media.
Some of the discovery coming from the evening’s presentation was translated into some general direction for the short-term allowing the utilization to continue and to have the use restricted to small communities of just the parents of the children in a respective teacher’s class.
Additional direction suggested that the teacher provide strict direction to parents at the outset regarding monitoring the nature and content of the information they are posting and sharing on the page. Teachers are also requested to get a full understanding on what the maximum level of privacy settings are for the site within the framework of the intended utilization.
The board and the district administration will strive to become more familiar with social media, continue to closely monitor the current usage within the district, investigate and inquire about what other districts are doing regarding the use of social media and review what policies may already exist in other districts. These and other inputs will be used to formulate of a set of policies for social media use within the Indian Lake Central School District.
•Representatives of the Indian Lake Parent, Teacher, Student Organization (ILPTSO) provided an overview to the School Board regarding history and accomplishments during its eight-year history. An exhaustive list of contributions and accomplishment was read to board members and was summarized with a goal to continuously deepen and improve the spirit of school and community.
•Transportation Supervisor George Virgil announced that the district has received a 100 percent pass rate on all state inspections for two consecutive years. Board members recognized the role of Virgil’s oversight in this accomplishment and the reflection it has on his desire to assure safety for the students.
•The Board approved two opportunities for fundraising for the Travel Club, one from Avon and a second with the online school store.
•Representatives of Bernier, Carr and Associates updated the Board on the status of the construction project and reported that the project was winding down and was at a “punch list” phase. Discussions ensued surrounding generator options. In response to a question from Board Vice President David Harrington about the budget, the Board was informed that a balance of unused funds remains between $4,000 and $15,000. There is a meeting planned to reconcile the financials of the project and the final figure will be forthcoming.
•School Superintendent Mark Brand notified the Board that a request was received from the Town Board for a joint open meeting of the two boards. A meeting date and time was set for Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. in the school cafeteria.
•During his report to the Board, Superintendent Brand announced that the district did not receive the grant for the pellet boiler. Discussion ensued regarding options for boiler replacement and the relatively rapid payback on a pellet boiler. On the positive side, Brand said that the projected transportation budget was $14,000 less than expected.
•During his report, Principal Dave Snide outlined the concussion program that the school abides by and an overview of its six-phase process that uses a healthy base line check to monitor each phase of getting the student a healthy return to sport activities. He also informed the Board that the Coaches vs. Cancer game on Jan. 11 had a tremendous attendance level and raised $1,712.45 for the American Cancer Society.
The next regular meeting of the School Board will be on Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. in the school cafeteria.