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Ripley school’s planning facilities use project near completion

May 1, 2017
By David Prenatt - , Westfield Republican

RIPLEY - Ripley Central School District's planned facilities use project, which began in 2015, will soon be completed, board of education members learned at their April 20 meeting.

Edmund Schober and Ronald Kessler, from the architectural firm LaBella, updated the board on the finishing points of the project, submitted two necessary change orders, and offered details about A.W. Farrell & Son and Parise Mechanical.

Schober informed the board that all work of A.W. Farrell and Son, Inc. has been long completed. The district will be credited $2,000 back to the contract by Farrell & Son of Dunkirk, who were hired to replace the roof.

The board also learned that all Parise Mechanical, Inc.'s HVAC work is complete. However, Parise is behind on sending their invoices, Schober said.

Board members also received an update on the smoke and fire alarm system. This will be moved along very quickly, Schober said. Technically, it is not an emergency project, but the state has agreed to review it quickly, he added.

Schober told board members that once the state reviews the fire and smoke alarm project, "we will immediately prepare for bidding." The work should be started and finished over the summer, he said.

Board President Robert Bentley asked if the new system would be up and running by July and Schober answered: "I would certainly think so."

In other business, the board approved a final budget of $9,154,039 for the 2017-18 school year. This represents an overall decrease of $63,407 from the current budget.

Board member Ted Rickenbrode told board members that the proposed 2016-2017 budget has not drastic changes from last year. "At this point in time, we're estimating no changes in taxes," he added.

The board also heard from community member Terry Fuller addressed the board regarding speech and occupational therapy services in the district. Fuller, who has a grandson diagnosed with apraxia, said she and her daughter heard there is talk of the district downsizing or eliminating speech and occupational therapy.

Fuller noted that when her grandson started 3-year-old pre-school at Ripley, he was 100 percent non-verbal. He started talking halfway through the school year. "There's a lot of little kids out there like him. My grandson's not the only one who needs help with speech," she said.

District Superintendent Dr. Lauren Ormsby told the board and Fuller that over the last two years, the district has been over the $60,000 allocated for the sub-contractors who provide speech and occupational therapy.

"We value speech and occupational therapy services, and we want to serve the most kids for the $60,000 allocated for each sub-contractor," Ormsby said. She noted that special education mandated services, which are listed on kids' Individualized Education Plans, are rock solid. Those cannot be cut, she said.

"I have a responsibility to not spend more than what is allocated," Ormsby said. "It's very tricky. If they were actual employees of the district, it would be different," she said.

Technology Coordinator Kim Oakes noted how the sub-con"tractors try to manipulate their schedules to serve as many students as possible. We are going to be more pro-active next year and do more professional development with the teachers in these areas," Oakes said.

Fuller told that board that she was satisfied that the district would continue to offer speech and occupational therapy and that she is very pleased with the help her grandson has received.

Another community member, Crystal Dunkin, addressed the board about situations involving two of her children. Dunkin told the board that her son has been brought to the ground and called names in the school cafeteria. She said her daughter Gracie is being bullied by an adult bus monitor.

"I know I don't have the right to file a formal complaint against the district because I signed a form, but I am asking for help," Dunkin told board members.

Dunkin urged the district to become more involved in the lives of the student, noting that they often face difficult home situations. She told the board that there have been four recent heroin overdoses in Ripley. "I'm watching friends die and I'm watching children disappear," she added. Dunkin noted that her children love the Girls on the Run and Boys on the right Track programs that the school offers.

Bentley said the after school program and the summer program, Eagle University, are available to the kids. "We're doing a lot right now," he said. Some of this has to go to the community and the town, he added.

Superintendent Ormsby told board members that last month she and Oakes went to Albany to present Ripley's Maker's Lab. "We were the only ones representing an elementary school," Oakes said. "Also, we were accepted to be presenters at the Rural Schools Association Annual Conference in Cooperstown, NY in July," Ormsby added.

Ormsby also told the board that she and Erika Meredith are planning Eagle University for 2017. We are joining with Chautauqua Lake for grades 3 to 6 this year, she said. "We have 30 teacher applicants - the largest pool we've ever had," she added.

This is the first year that Chautauqua Lake will offer a program that is for everyone, and is not a remedial program, Ormsby said. Sheila Bentley is working on getting hot breakfasts through a program with Chautauqua Opportunities, Ormsby added.

Ormsby and Oakes told board members that the chrome books arrived just before everyone went on break. Oakes reminded the board that the purchase of the Chrome books was the district's first Smart School project.



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