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How BOCES ensure field trips are worthwhile and make them more affordable for school districts

On Board Online • September 18, 2017

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

Field trips were one of the first budget lines to hit the chopping block when school funding tightened during the latest recession.

While they weren't viewed as a frill, field trips were among a handful of non-mandated items that districts could eye for trimming during tough times.

Among school districts that answered a 2010 NYSSBA statewide survey asking how they were responding to New York's state budget crisis, 65 percent expected to trim or eliminate field trips to help balance their budgets.

Frankly, my dear, you don't need a policy on absolutely everything

On Board Online • September 18, 2017

By Courtney Sanik
Senior Policy Consultant

"Do you have a sample policy on ________?"

Welcome to my world. In NYSSBA's Policy Department, we get about 1,200 requests per year, and most take the form above.

Often, the answer is yes. But sometimes the answer is no, because school districts don't need to have a policy on everything under the sun.

We must learn from tragedies

On Board Online • September 18, 2017

Betty Rosa
Regents Chancellor

I write this column on Sunday, Sept. 10, while images of Hurricane Irma's destructive path whirl on my television screen. As I write, the storm just made landfall on Florida's west coast. The expected storm surge has yet to hit, and I pray for everyone in harm's way. This newest destruction comes as the good people of Texas and Louisiana are just beginning to put their lives back together following Harvey's devastation last week.

Appropriately, the nation's attention is focused on helping the victims of Harvey and Irma in whatever ways we can.

Eight-man football returns in Central NY

On Board Online • September 18, 2017

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

Eight-man football is back on the high school gridiron in New York.

After an absence of 35 years or more, seven schools in the New York State High School Public Athletic Association's Section III in Central New York are warming up for a five-regular-game season that's scheduled to culminate with a Nov. 4 championship at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.

"We're pretty excited about it," said Jim Brophy, athletic director in Cooperstown. "It's real football. It's just that there are fewer players on the field."

Should Columbus Day become Indigenous Peoples Day?

On Board Online • September 18, 2017

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

Amid wider recognition of disturbing aspects of Christopher Columbus’ legacy,  some local school boards are being asked to consider a question they might never have imagined when they took office: Should the school district stop observing the second Monday in October as Columbus Day and, instead, call it Indigenous Peoples Day?

This issue has been debated by at least four school boards in New York State. Two have answered yes, one has answered no, and one – the Southampton school district in Suffolk County –decided the holiday did not need a name on the school calendar. The Southhampton decision followed an emotional community debate that included representatives of Italian-American groups and the Shinnecock Nation.

The story of Columbus is much more complex and controversial than the familiar, sing-song rhyme: In fourteen-hundred-ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

Supt. & BOE member, twin sisters, rescue swimmers on Lake Ontario

On Board Online • September 18, 2017

By Eric D. Randall
Senior Writer

Every summer, twin sisters Erin Gardner and Jennifer Gaffney-Goodnough invite friends to enjoy a day at a beach accessible only by boat at Sandy Island Beach State Park near Watertown. The former is a member of the South Jefferson school board and the latter is the new superintendent of the Sackets Harbor school district in Jefferson County.

On Thursday, Aug. 24, as they were setting up on the beach, a woman approached them and asked if they owned the boat anchored nearby. She said four children had gotten caught in a current near a channel that leads to Lake Ontario. An adult who was a strong swimmer went after them, but the current got her, too.

A hard look at soft skills

On Board Online • September 18, 2017

By Susan Bergtraum
NYSSBA President

If your school district is like most others, chances are you have teams of teachers and administrators poring over the results of last April’s grade 3-8 English language arts and math exams. Your leadership team understandably wants to know which students are proficient in those core subjects and which are not – and why. You want to know how your students’ academic skills stack up against peer districts. You await data about achievement gaps among different groups of students.

But what about your students’ “soft skills?” This term refers to personal attributes that enable us to successfully interact with others – traits such as integrity, communication, courtesy, responsibility, professionalism, flexibility, collaboration and teamwork. Do you know how your students are doing in those areas?

New data suggests that the public cares more about the teaching of soft skills than test scores. In August, Phi Delta Kappan (PDK) released the results of its latest annual national poll of the “Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools,” which it has been conducting since 1969. This year’s survey, for the first time, polled a random sample of New Yorkers and found that 85 percent of the 628 adult residents surveyed believe how well schools help students learn soft skills such as being cooperative, respectful of others and persistence in solving problems is an important factor in determining school quality.

2017 Voting Delegates’ Guide

September 7, 2017

NYSSBA Annual Business Meeting
Saturday, October 14 - 8:00 a.m.
1932 Jack Shea Arena

Below you will find a link to the 2017 Voting Delegates' Guide for the Annual Business Meeting.  This guide contains the report of the Resolutions Committee as well as endorsements received by the September 5 deadline.

Kremer: Act locally but think globally for students

FOR RELEASE: September 5, 2017

CONTACT: Al Marlin
(518) 783-3723 or (518) 527-6933 cell


As students return to the classroom, local school boards are preparing to deal with new initiatives, including issues dealing with equity and hate, mental health regulations, shortages of qualified instructional staff, and new science standards.

"These are issues in all school districts – upstate and downstate, wealthy and poor, big and small, relatively homogenous or very diverse. School boards must be prepared to address these issues in the coming year," said NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer.


While science standards call for teaching about climate change, instruction often influenced by politics, money and ideology

FOR RELEASE: August 31, 2017

CONTACT: David Albert
(518) 783-3716 or (518) 320-2221 cell


New state science standards require instruction in climate change, but what students are taught about the topic may hinge on the political views of their teacher. 

That's one of the findings of a new report from the New York State School Boards Association examining research into climate change education. The report, "When Politics Enters the Classroom: Teaching about Climate Change," explores the intersection of money, politics and ideology with science in our nation's classrooms. 

"When it comes to teaching about climate change, it certainly appears that politics and economics, not science, are driving the debate," said NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer.


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