Lake Placid High School
The Lake Placid Central School District’s previous year was highlighted by a tough budget process, taxpayer animosity toward the school superintendent and the untimely departure of the middle/high school principal.
The new school year will be tough as well, but most of the stress is coming from state mandates in Albany, not from within.
“I’ve never seen this much change in education in such a short amount of time, and it’s going to be overwhelming for a lot of our people,” said School Superintendent Randy Richards. “We’ll meet the challenge, but it will be overwhelming.”
The New York State Education Department this year is requiring a number of new mandates that school districts must follow in order to improve teaching and learning standards. Mandates from the Common Core standards, the state’s new Annual Professional Performance Review Law (teacher evaluations), and the Dignity for All Students Act have changed the landscape of education for the educators and administrators.
“Each one of these is huge, but to combine them together will be challenging,” Richards said.
Beginning in the 2012-13 school year, the content of the grade 3-8 tests will be aligned to the Common Core.
And the Dignity for all Students Act — signed into law on Sept. 13, 2010 — took effect on July 1 of this year. It was designed to provide students “with a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment, and bullying on school property, a school bus and/or at a school function.”
The Annual Professional Performance Review Law — signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in February — is now being administered throughout the state, and each district must have its plan approved by the state Education Department. Lake Placid Central School administrators are finishing negotiations with teachers regarding the teacher evaluations, according to Richards.
“We’ll be evaluating people differently than in the past,” Richards said.
Another challenge is infusing common core standards into the curriculum. There have been changes to the core English Language Arts (ELA) and math programs.
“They have a new focus they want us to look at, so we’ve got to go back and take a look at our curriculum,” Richards said.
Some of these changes have come from the federal Race to the Top program; however, the Lake Placid district will only see $33,000 to help implement the new mandates, according to Richards.
“And that’s woefully inadequate,” Richards said. “I think it’s going to cost the district $400,000 to $500,000 by the time we’re done funding all these initiatives. And when you’re capped, you’ve got to find all the money to do all that work somehow.”
Despite the challenges, Richard said he is looking forward to redefining education in Lake Placid this year with all the changes.
“I am personally excited about this year,” Richards said. “I see it as a year of opportunity with all these new mandates to kind of redefine ourselves in some spots.”
As the Lake Placid School Board begins its search for a new superintendent — Richards is leaving at the end of the school year — it has temporarily filled the principal position left vacant when Kathy Mulderig left in the spring. She had successfully filed a harassment complaint against Superintendent Richards, yet she did not return to her job after Easter break. Her complaint triggered public outcry against the superintendent.
The interim principals will be former Lake Placid Elementary School Principal Rick Retrosi for the middle school and former St. Agnes Elementary School Principal Greg Camelo for the high school. Richards said the district is looking for four volunteers from the community to be on the search committee for a new middle/high school principal.
Other new hires include Mike Bringley for middle school science, Frank Brunner for high school science (chemistry and physics), and Connie Whalen as a high school guidance counselor.
The School Board is currently exploring the possibility of sharing a school superintendent with the Saranac Lake Central School District.
Classes begin on Thursday, Sept. 6.