VCSD Takes A Proactive Approach to Education Post-Pandemic
The Coronavirus Pandemic has shaken all aspects of our lives to the core forcing a global restructuring of education. It has magnified the importance of connections and social-emotional learning. Just as VCSD worked hard to facilitate the reopening of schools in September, we are hard at work not only providing education during the pandemic- but looking ahead to how we can best serve our students’ educational needs as we eventually return to schools as we knew them with the lessons learned through the pandemic experience.
Before the Pandemic, Valley Central was delving into Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and its importance in fully equipping our students for success. The Pandemic has magnified how very important SEL is. Connectivity applies beyond internet access. Students need to feel connected to the adults in their schools.
The “House” concept of schools is effective for building a sense of community, camaraderie, and identity.
The Alternative Learning Center at Maybrook is like a House of the High School and Middle School. Since its inception, it has been very successful in creating community and camaraderie for our students. To apply this concept on a larger scale, VCSD has decided to embark on restructuring the High School to a collaborative co-principal model.
Valley Central High School will consist of two Houses: a grade 9/10 House and grade 11/12 House. Each House will have a Principal and Assistant Principal. The 9/10 House will focus on Social Emotional Learning to make sure students are acclimated and prepared for success in the upper grades of high school. The 11/12 House will be focused on college and career readiness, being sure that students are prepared for success on the paths they will take post-high school.
The District began considering the House approach prior to the Pandemic and then decided to implement it quickly as it became apparent that students will need more support than ever as we continue to deal with the Pandemic’s effects on now and well beyond the end of the Pandemic.
Superintendent John Xanthis sees a mid-year restructuring to the new system as a perfect opportunity to have the House system firmly in place for the upcoming year. Decisions for an upcoming school year are made starting in January of the prior year, so this transition will allow the co-principals to be fully in charge of those decisions. It is hoped to have the co-principals in place as early as the beginning of the second semester of this school year.
Snow Days at VC
Most students know who Ben Noll (VC Class of 2009) is although he graduated awhile ago and lives half a world away in New Zealand! Who could imagine a world without Ben Noll’s Snow Day predictions? Not VC.
Snow days are not something that VC is ready to let go of yet. For now, VC plans to use our snow days and then if needed go remote.
VC has a total of seven snow days. Three can be used without having to make them up. The next four are “banked” in the VC school calendar and are made up in this order:
4th Day: May 27th is a school day
5th Day: March 26 and May 27
6th Day: March 26, April 5 and May 27
7th Day: March 26, April 5, May 27 and May 28
The District had its first snow day on December 17, 2020.
January 4: School Resumes- Remote Learning Only
January 11- BOE meeting Livestreamed on our Youtube Channel.
January 18- MLK,Jr. Day
January 19: Hybrid Learning Resumes: Team 2 reports to school
January 21: UPK Info Night
January Regents Cancelled
January Concerts and Drama Productions Postponed
Education Amidst a Pandemic
~ John P. Xanthis, Superintendent
One of the goals of the Board of Education is to be one of the top 5 school districts in Orange County. VC was the largest district in Orange County to offer in-person learning to all our students for the longest period. I believe in the midst of this pandemic that was quite a success. From the first days of the pandemic through today we have worked hard to provide an opportunity to return students to the classroom while at the same time providing families the choice of 100% Online Learning.
I am proud of the efforts that have been made by all of our staff to keep our schools open from September through November and to keep our students learning virtually during the Pause. It has been an all-around team effort and the efforts have been outstanding.
School Meals Available During PAUSE
Free school meals are available to all VC students, age 2-18, during the Pause of In-Person instruction.
During the Pause, pickup days will be on Mondays and Wednesdays only. Orders must be placed from the VCSD website. Order forms are available on the Food Services page as well as all the school homepages.
Meal pickup on Mondays:
~Pickup on Monday will be for Monday and Tuesday meals
~Order from Friday at 2:00 PM until 9:30 AM on Monday
~Pickup is between 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM on Monday
Meal pickup on Wednesdays: ~Pickup on Wednesday will be for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday meals
~Order from Tuesday at 2:00 PM until 9:30 AM on Wednesday
~Pickup is between 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM on Wednesday
Meals will not be available during the Winter Recess from Dec. 23rd through Jan. 4th.
Bus Service Will Continue Under First Student
In its lawsuit against VCSD, Orange County Transit claims it is owed for transportation services it did not actually provide during the State ordered shutdown of schools from March to June 30, 2020. The lawsuit also alleges that Orange County Transit is entitled to be paid for its costs of cleaning its own buses to CDC standards during the present school year.
Through Bankruptcy proceedings, Orange County Transit has ceased operations for Valley Central effective December 1st. The District has assigned a short-term emergency contract to First Student and will immediately begin the process of hiring a new transportation contractor.
Orange County Transit is an outside contractor for VCSD. The company has alleged publicly in the Wallkill Valley Times that the District has a surplus of CARES Act funds from which they believe they should be given as a stimulus for services that were not rendered during the school closures. The District has no such surplus and furthermore the Valley Central School District is not in the legal or practical position to subsidize such businesses with scarce taxpayer monies needed to educate children.
The remedy for such businesses as Orange County Transit is the federal Payroll Protection Program. It is our understanding that Orange County Transit received $1,762,030 from that program. They are NOT entitled to any more from our taxpayers.
Where is the MONEY?
Here are the FACTS:
VCSD lost State Aid through a “Pandemic Adjustment”
CARES Act Funds address State Aid shortfalls through grants to invest in items such as technology, bandwidth, and connectivity.
VC has not yet received any money from the CARES Act.
~Provided childcare for essential workers
~distributed 1000’s of meals
~Purchased PPE, sanitizer, and signage
~Purchased technology to support remote learning
~ Maintained staff
Becoming Culturally Responsive
Valley Central has implemented:
- A strong Social and Emotional Learning Initiative
- Hired a Consultant on Culturally Inclusive Education, Dr. Gess LeBlanc who has worked with staff and students in the Middle and High Schools
- Cultural Diversity Club at the High School
- Creation of A Race, Identity and Justice Course at High School
- Professional Development for Faculty
- Procurement of Racially Inclusive Literature for all Elementary Schools
- Created an ad hoc Racial Equity in Education Committee
- Modified the Dress Code (part of VC Code of Conduct) to be culturally responsive
- Appointing a (p/t) District Equity Coach- Zelig Kurland, VCHS Teacher
Applicants Needed for Racial and Social Equity Committee
The Board of Education has created a Racial and Social Equity Committee. The goal of the committee is to drive accountability for the fair and inclusive treatment of all students.
The initial charge of the committee is to:
- review District Curriculum so that it reflects diversity and provides the ability to thrive in a multicultural society
- focus on staff diversity and inclusion
- promote cultural literacy among all staff members
- assure fair and equal treatment of all students
- evaluate the effectiveness of the District effort regarding equity
Accepting Applications through November 30, 2020
The Racial and Social Equity Composition
1 BOE Member, and alternate
6 Parent and Community members, May include recent grads
4 Students, Current HS/8th grade students
4 Faculty, 1 HS, 1 MS, 2 Elem.
2 Non-Instruct. Staff, 1 Secondary/1 Elem.
3 Administrators, 1 HS, 1 MS, 1 Elem.
1 CO Administrator and the Superintendent, Ex-Officio
Statement from the Board Of Education
( from October 13, 2020 BOE Meeting)
“The District has been criticized and questioned by some for its failure to address, prevent and remedy incidents alleging racial injustice, particularly regarding some involving students.
We have very clear expectations about student behavior. As our policies require, we encourage the reporting of any misconduct regardless of severity.
The District promptly and thoroughly investigates these allegations. While some investigations can be quick, others require more time. In either case, we will not rush an investigation or rush to judgment.
If an investigation determines that disciplinary action should be taken, that is a private matter between the District, and the family. The District is obligated under the law to follow the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Accordingly, the District is not permitted to share information on the outcome of any student discipline with the public.
The District has done a lot to ensure that students have a safe and healthy environment to learn and will continue to do so.
We have a good community and a great student body. Creating a culture of diversity and tolerance, a safe and healthy learning environment should be something that unites us.
We will continue to encourage open honest respectful conversation on ways to improve our District and community.”