Superintendent Benjamin Spitzer said at the December meeting of the Chautauqua Lake School District Board of Education that a very preliminary look at next year's budget suggests that the gap between predicted revenues and expenses may exceed half a million dollars. Spitzer stressed, however, that these are early numbers and until the amount of state aid available to the district is known, no precise budget planning can be done.
There was, however, plenty of good news for the district. Christmas came early at the elementary school as it became eligible for a grant under Title VI. More than $15,000 additional dollars will be made available to the elementary school under the program. The district also received a total of 13 reconditioned Dell computers through the state's CREATE program, which recycles computers used by the state. Some of these computers will be used in the Project Lead the Way classroom a pre-engineering program, which needs more computers due to increased enrollment in the program. Others will be placed in the elementary and secondary school libraries.
The secondary school has a program run by the guidance department and student administration to identify students and families in need of assistance in the Chautauqua Lake and Ripley districts. A "wish list" was created for these families, and within one week all of the items on the list had been provided by school and community donors, and by some local businesses. Most of the items collected were gift cards for local retailers and for some online stores. In addition, Olympia Sports in Dunkirk donated articles of quality clothing for this effort. These gifts will make the Christmas season a bit brighter for area families.
A number of changes are being made to address some of the problems found with the Common Core curriculum. At the elementary level, the time that students must sit for testing has been reduced. Many teachers found that the test periods were simply too long the children, especially at the lower grade levels, were unable to sit for the periods required. Some of the topics covered by the testing are being changed to better match up with the actual curriculum.
Superintendent Spitzer noted that the development of the new evaluation system for the teaching staff has been completed. This was a time-consuming effort as the Annual Professional Performance Review Plan, known as APPR, must be approved at several levels, and it was necessary to go through a number of revisions to meet all state standards. Teachers are evaluated based on "student growth," which can be difficult in some instances to measure, for example in an art or music class. But the new APPR now meets all current standards and was approved by the board.