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State presses schools to pick ‘portal’


Chatham, like ICC, has reservations over data mandate

CHATHAM–At a meeting that convened while the polls were still open for the school upgrade proposition that ultimately failed to win public support, schools Superintendent Cheryl Nuciforo discussed the topic of so-called Parent Portals with the Board of Education. Parent portals are websites where parents and staff can log in to view information like test results, attendance and disciplinary data about individual students.

New York State is requiring districts to participate in a program called EngageNY, which offers districts three options for the portals and districts may choose which of the three to use. Local school data would then be uploaded to the state system, which would prepare the information for parents and educators to view. The state is using funds from the federal Race to the Top program to get the process started, and school districts will not be charged for the service for the first two years. When the federal funding ends, districts can either discontinue participation in the EngageNY Portal or continue use it at a cost.

Ms. Nuciforo said that Chatham has selected one of the three options as required, though she said the state options may not serve the district in the best way.

“The state parent portal at this time seems to be mostly New York State test results,” she said. “Parents really have access to that information already.”

She said the district is looking into local options for parent portals that better suit Chatham.

“We’re investigating what we could do locally that would give parents direct access without having to go through a whole state system to get things like attendance and discipline records and whatever else we decide to open up through the parent portal,” she said.

Board member Michael Clark said he appreciates that the district staff is doing more than trying to meet the required minimum.

Earlier this month Ichabod Crane Central School District George Zini expressed “concerns” about the portal options available to his district, going so far as to say he didn’t plan to use the system.

The state says the federal grant for Race to the Top funding required that every school district in the state adopt the new web gateway to student records. But Mr. Zini said he was not comfortable with the program because it was not clear to him what the state and third-party vendors would do with the data being assembled.

Also at the November 19 Chatham school board meeting, the board:

*Appointed Lael Locke as Chatham Public Library Advisory Committee member for the period of November 20, 2013 through June 30, 2014.

*Approved the service agreement with Johnson Controls, Inc., for heating and ventilation service at the Chatham Middle School through June 30, 2014 at the amount of $3,250.

*Approved the elevator service contract with Otis Elevator Company at an annual cost of $3,960.

A special board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 3 at 6:30 p.m. in the High School library to discuss the next steps following the rejection of the capital project bond proposal.




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