Marlboro School Superintendent Michael Brooks gave his first report of the New Year at last week’s board of education meeting.
Brooks said he has started his classroom observations of all non-tenured teachers, often staying for an entire period.
“It is wonderful so far. I learned more about the mechanical function of the diaphragm in a high school biology class that I don’t remember learning seven years ago when I was in high school biology myself,” he kidded. “It was a wondrously vigorous lesson; I was very impressed there.”
Brooks said the commonly held belief that the Middle School years are “fly-over years,” is “absolutely” not true, pointing out that the school curriculum is very challenging to all students.
“I saw a wonderful 8th grade lesson on vertical and horizontal monopolies in the Gilded Age [1870-1900]; really digging deep into economics,” he said. “I was blown away by this. [There is] tremendous stuff going on in our classes.”
Brooks said work has begun on the Superintendent’s proposed budget for the 2016-17 school year that will be presented to the school board and to the public. He said he would bring a budget calendar to the board’s next meeting on Jan. 21, stating that this would contain a timeline on “how we will roll out a budget.”
Brooks said the work started with a “mini-hearing within our administrative group where we are seeking input from all of our Principals, our department heads, our chairs, our grade level coordinators and actually our students.”
The superintendent recently met with Middle School students who are members of the student government.
“One of the topics was looking at their school programs and their perspective on school and what they’d like to see for improvements and what they’d like to see for their future,” he said. “Certainly they have a vested interest in the quality of their schooling and they took every opportunity to talk to me about those perspectives and I really enjoyed it.”
Brooks said he would be meeting with members of the Student Senate at the High School in the last week of January.
“Those are very important elements of pulling together a budget that we would like to be very proud of for this community and it’s an important one for us,” said Brooks. “It really sets a foundation for where we will be in the future and that’s the theme that I think we will end up landing on – the Foundation for the Future.” Brooks said special emphasis will be given on “doing our best to grow programs, at the same time being very respectful of taxpayers’ limits. We have to carefully figure out how to balance those two pieces.”
Wi-Fi running/chromebooks coming
Brooks said the wireless system the board approved last year is “about 95% operational.” He noted that a few tweaks are needed but it is up and running.
“People are on it, our own devices are on it and we are just about ready to deploy the other side of the approved expenditure, which is 128 mobile laptops on four carts.” Each cart will have 32 chromebooks, with 2 carts going to the Middle School and 2 others to the High School. Brooks said the district is working “feverishly to get those machines all ready, charged and registered and into kids’ hands.”
Board member Frank Milazzo questioned if parameters could be set for the wireless system to “allow things to happen after school that can’t happen during the school day,” especially getting out information on sports activities to the media that needs to be disseminated outside of the regular school day. Michael Bakatsias, Asst. Superintendent for Personnel and Technology, said a specific ID could be created, noting that the system is “very customizable to meet everybody’s needs…we want to make this accessible to everyone and there will be discussions on further iterations during school hours on that.”
The technology additions were paid for by a $41,000 bullet aid grant that was obtained by NYS Sen. William Larkin.
Brooks pointed out that once the student council found out that Chromebooks were coming “they started to brainstorm wildly what that could mean for them in the classroom and have actually put on a future agenda for themselves to start coming up with ideas about how they can be incorporated into the classroom, library, study hall and student use.”
Bakatsias said teachers would be able to secure the laptops for a period or for a series of time by signing them out at the Media Center to use for support or to amplify a particular lesson that the students are studying.
By Mark Reynolds