Minerva Central School Superintendent Timothy Farrell began his report to the School Board March 8 by informing them of a new requirement under the Open Meetings Law to make various types of documents — including proposed resolutions, laws, rules, regulations, policies, and amendments to any of the previous — available prior to the meeting.
He explained that they were planning to make these available online as PDF files since this would be the most cost-effective and easiest way to provide these documents. They also planned to make printed versions available upon request for a small charge to cover expenses.
Farrell next explained the newly mandated teacher evaluation process. He said that all schools that wanted to continue to receive federal funding needed to have the new process in place by 2013. Minerva has already begun to implement it with select teachers who volunteered so the administration could become familiar working with the new guidelines.
The superintendent explained that evaluations would be based on three factors. First of all, 20 percent would be based on student growth as measured by a state test, compared to the students’ scores from the previous year’s test. An additional 20 percent would be based on a locally selected measure of student achievement. The remaining 60 percent would be based on other measures of teacher effectiveness, with a least 31 percent based on multiple classroom observations, including one unannounced observation.
These percentages would be translated into a composite score for teachers. The scores are divided into four levels that consist of highly effective, effective, developing, and ineffective. Farrell noted that if students do not do well on both tests it would be impossible under the new formula for teachers to achieve an evaluation of effective or highly effective. However, he said that Minerva students have historically done well exams — often better than the state average — and so he felt confident that teachers should be able to do well under the new guidelines.
Principal Heidi Kelly reported on some student activities. Eleven students from grades 9 through 12 would be attending the Youth and Government Conference in Albany. The School has two teams that will be participating in Odyssey of the Mind this year: a Division 2 team, The Odyssey Angels consisting of six students and a Division 3 team, The To Be or Not To Be’s, consisting of five students. Kelly also said the school would be staging the musical Aladdin on March 24 with a total of 25 students participating. This will also be the first year that Minerva students will be publishing a literary magazine, The Ember, which is currently in production and will feature student works in a variety of genres.
In addition, there are a few other noteworthy events scheduled for this month. On March 13 students will be giving multi-media presentations at the Adirondack Tech Showcase. Students who participated in the Anti-Bullying Program will perform skits that they created featuring an anti-bullying message on March 19.
And Irish Pride week was held this week starting Monday, March 12 and featured a new activity each day. The Skidmore based Irish Step Dancing Group were chosen to kick off the festivities. Students were excited about the week’s activities, Kelly said.