VVS board accepts donation, hears report on student technology programs

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VERONA — A donation from the Special Olympics of New York and a report on technology program accomplishments for pre-kindergarten to grade 6 were addressed by the Vernon-Verona-Sherrill (VVS) school district Board of Education on Monday.

Among other topics at the meeting were updates on a new Special Patrol Officer program in schools; a School and Business Alliance program; a Farm-to-School initiative; and Buildings and Grounds Department equipment.

In the discussions, as outlined by the VVS district:

• A $1,000 donation from the Special Olympics of New York is to support VVS establishing a unified bowling program for students with disabilities.

It will be the district’s second unified sports team; the other is the unified basketball team.

• Pre-K to grade 6 technology lessons in classrooms, clubs and summer programs, plus integrated activities such as Code.org, 3D printing and the Engineering by Design curriculum, were highlighted in a presentation.

Technology co-Teacher Leader Tom Fiola said “we want students to be prepared — we need a curriculum that gives each student the same skill set and knowledge base as they enter middle school. This also creates opportunities for faculty to find ways to collaborate and support students in these endeavors.” The data indicates “the collaboration in these areas is helping to improve student learning across the board,” said Library Media Specialist Ashley Sperber.

VVS Superintendent Martha Group noted “it’s through these life experiences that we have the opportunity to learn and grow. We do kids a disservice when we don’t allow students to take risks and learn from their mistakes — that’s a part of what school is all about. I’m very proud of the work that this team has done.”

• The Oneida County Sheriff’s Department has identified two persons for the Special Patrol Officer position. The VVS district will continue to work with the Sheriff’s Department regarding the initiative.

The VVS board in December voted unanimously to give Group the authority to contract with the county for special patrol officers. 

Several other area school districts have taken up the county’s offer last year to help pay for special patrol officers providing security in schools.

• For the School and Business Alliance (SABA) program that provides work-based learning, shadowing and business tours among opportunities for students, “it allows us to take what students are learning in the classroom and apply that to job experiences that will benefit the student as they progress,” said Karen Holton, Teacher Leader of the Guidance Department.

In this school year, more than 60 VVS juniors had shadowing opportunities at 40 local businesses, representing 21 career paths. Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES career specialist John Bullis, who works with VVS and SABA, said “supporting the development of a qualified workforce in the Mohawk Valley is something I believe in. This program ensures student success.”

• A report on the Farm-to-School initiative cited various healthy food options that have been brought to students including butternut squash gingerbread cakes, roasted brussels sprouts and cranberry apple sauce.

“We have had 110 elementary classroom outreach sessions and middle-school health class presentation,” said Tiffany McConn, Farm to School coordinator. “The goal is to give students opportunities to try healthy foods in new and interesting ways.”

• Buildings and Grounds Director Ron Gregory reviewed equipment replacements, noting a new plow truck and a tractor have helped make winter driveways and parking lots safer for students, faculty and families.

He thanked the district administration and board for the purchases.

He also showcased new flooring at E.A. McAllister Elementary School and turf maintenance equipment that are part of recent facilities renovations.

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