Story by Lisa Rice
At the start of the Warwick School Board meeting on Mon., May 13, three teachers received ‘Apple of My Eye’ awards. The award is granted by the School Board based on letters received from students and parents.
“Exceptional teachers are our greatest asset,” said Superintendent Dr. David Leach. As he announced each teacher, he read a sample of quotes from the nominating students.
Anthony Dinoto’s second graders (and their parents) from Park Avenue Elementary described him as someone who “looks forward to reading to us every day,” “makes a real connection to us,” and “is a special teacher.”
“You have a fan club as well,” Leach said to Diana Piascik, a fifth grade teacher at the Middle School who teaches Literacy and Social Studies. Her students described her as “very caring” and “very positive.” Other comments were “she is our favorite person,” “she is smart,” and “she is kind.”
At the high school, students are raving about Marc Fasolino. Excerpts from his nominations included: “he treats us like college students,” “he enjoys his job,” “he is innovative and has interactive lessons,” and “he is a happy man.”
Museum Association of NY Award of Merit
The Warwick Historical Society was the recipient of the Museum Association of New York’s Award of Merit for teaching with primary resources. Following the award of a Library of Congress grant in 2015, a group of volunteer teachers got together and searched high and low in historic homes and buildings in Warwick and catalogued their resources to provide a unique learning experience for students.
“It’s important that you know how great you did,” said Village of Warwick Historian Ivy Tulin. “Of all the people that were there, our program got the biggest applause. This is because of the school district. This award really belongs to the Warwick School District. God bless our principals and teachers who opened their doors and classrooms to us.”
Resident Questions Athletics vs. Arts
Joan Rapp Dunn addressed the Board about the current budget up for vote on Tues., May 21. She stated that she feels athletics gets a lot of money ($761,000) compared to arts ($229,000).
“I would like to see it broken down more,” she said. “What do the expenses cover? How does it get broken down?”
She said that she would like to see equal spending in athletics and the arts, pointing out that athletes tend to get more of the spotlight than artists. She cited that the newspapers have a student-athlete of the week but not a student-artist.
While the Board does not typically respond to comments on agenda items, Dr. Leach did say that in his review of the budget, he expected to address some of her concerns. He also said that this Board has made strides in increasing arts funding.
Lynn Lillian pointed out that the budget is complicated and that some expenses fall under different line items. An example given was that the cost for the set design class is allotted as a program and not in the art budget.
Budget Hearing & Board Reports
The meeting included the budget hearing for the 2019-2020 school year. The vote will be held on Tues., May 21. Leach reviewed the budget he shared at the previous Board meeting, as well as the newsletter that would be sent to all residents later in the week.
During his report, Dr. Leach highlighted new programs that are available. Programs added in the past five years include: Engineering is Elementary, Google Apps, Financial Literacy, Computer Science, Forensics, Advanced Veterinary Science, Computer Integrated Manufacturing, Leadership Academy and Green Architecture.
The principal of the middle school, Georgianna Diopoulos, described the Harry Potter Club and Dumbledore’s Army saying, “The seventh and eighth graders are prefect and they put together lessons for the fifth and sixth grades, like build a wand, develop potions, pygmy puffs. It brought students from all backgrounds together.”
Diopoulos explained that the Middle School Coalition group focuses on working with the parents, whereas the High School focuses on the students.
“There’s lots of changes at the middle school,” she said. “It’s really exciting.”
Something else the middle school is currently looking at is having unit lunch, modeled after the high school. It allows the students time to participate in extracurricular activities during the school day.
Board member Dave Eaton reported that the audit committee is “in really good shape. We’ve done a very good job of keeping our noses clean.”
Student liaison to the School Board, Madeleine Wadeson stated that students at the high school were in the midst of Advance Placement exams and 90 new students were recently inducted into the National Honor Society. She also stated that the Empty Bowls fundraiser was “extremely successful” and “beyond what anyone expected.” Graduating next month, Wadeson informed the Board that she is working with Mr. Burns to find her replacement for next year.
Funds Accepted & Schedule Approved
The Board adopted a resolution to accept a grant awarded to Park Avenue Elementary school by Stewarts Holiday Match Donation.
They also accepted a grant from Special Olympics New York in the amount of $1,000. The grant was applied for by Athletic Director Greg Sirico.
The Board approved the collective bargaining agreement between the Warwick Valley Central School District and the Warwick Valley Teachers Association.
A field trip for the High School Leadership Academy to visit the Secret Service Headquarters in Brooklyn was approved.
The 2019-2020 schedule of School Board meetings and work sessions was approved, as well as a resolution to hold the Board’s organizational meeting on Mon., July 1. The next School Board meeting will be held on Mon., Jun. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Dorothy C. Wilson Education Center, 225 West St. in Warwick.