Letter from the Superintendent

October 19, 2018

Dear Residents,

Due to the potential residential development associated with the Town of Clarkstown’s Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Zoning Plan, last July the Nanuet School District contracted with the Western Suffolk BOCES Office of School Planning and Research to conduct a Comprehensive Long Range Planning Study that would provide the Board of Education with objective data and analysis covering the following areas:

  • Demographic Analysis (population, births, housing, non-public enrollment)
  • Enrollment Analysis (includes enrollment projections associated with the Transit-Oriented Development Zoning Plan)
  • Facilities Analysis (includes operating capacity and space allocation)

Note: A draft of this Comprehensive Long Range Planning Study report is found on the following link:   

 Nanuet UFSD Comprehensive Long Range Planning Study 2018 - Draft

Within the past 20 years, the Western Suffolk BOCES Office of School Planning and Research conducted two other comprehensive studies that provided the Board of Education with objective data that led us to  re-open the Highview Elementary School and undertake building expansion and renovation work across the District. 

At the Board Meeting next Tuesday (10/23), I will provide a brief summary of this report as it relates to the Town’s TOD Zoning Plan.

Thank you,

Mark S. McNeill

_____________________________________________________________________

October 3, 2018

Dear Parents/Guardians and Community Members,

We are pleased to report that two of our teachers, Hannah Murphy and Vincent Garrison, were selected for the New York State Master Teacher Program.

Below is a link to Governor Cuomo’s press release about this wonderful achievement:

https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-selection-275-additional-new-york-state-master-teachers

Congratulations to Mrs. Murphy and Mr. Garrison!

Thank you,

Mark S. McNeill

_____________________________________________________________________

Dear Residents,

Welcome to the 2018-19 school year! As the school year gets underway, it is the Nanuet Board of Education’s resolve to continuously improve the District’s ability to engage ALL of its residents – through our K-12 Alert notifications, the District website, and other social media platforms. It is important that residents/taxpayers are informed of important issues taking place in the District from year to year.

Among the initiatives taking place this year are:

  • Superintendent Search Process – Rockland BOCES will assist the Board in selecting a new Superintendent for July 1, 2019 with the process beginning in late September/early October.
  • Change to HS Start/End Times – We are aligning the High School’s schedule to reflect research-based findings that positively affect students’ health, safety and learning.
  • High School Renovation – We are completing asbestos abatement and upgrades to the HS Cafeteria and Media Center, with a focus on creating 21st Century innovative teaching & learning environments.
  • Seeking Re-Accreditation of each building by the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges – A visiting team is scheduled for this November.
  • Pfizer Tax Dispute Matter – This involves tax years 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19.

To ensure that you are receiving the most current information on important matters, please sign up for our K-12 Alert system and email distribution list by calling 845-627-9883. You can also stay informed by taking advantage of the District’s many social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, or by visiting www.nanuetsd.org.

Lastly, we are very proud of recent accomplishments across the District, specifically:

Congratulations Class of 2018 – 97% will be attending college (77% 4-yr colleges, 20% 2-yr colleges); 1% Military; 1% Employed; 1% Gap Year

  • Nanuet High School received a Silver Award from the U.S. News & World Report rankings of Best High Schools
  • Our District was recognized as a 2018 Best Communities for Music Education Award
  • National School Boards Association awarded the District its Magna Award for our innovative programs at the Outdoor Education Center

On behalf of the Nanuet Board of Education, we look forward to a very successful school year!

Thank you,

Mark S. McNeill

_____________________________________________________________________

Dear Residents,

 I would like to share Board President Ron Hansen’s statement from the May 15, 2018 Board Meeting.

 Now that we have an official notification of Dr. McNeill's intent to retire, we can proceed to the next steps to find the best candidate to lead the Nanuet School District.

 I would first point out:

  • On October 24, 2017 a contract was approved for Dr. McNeill that upon his official filing for retirement, that instead of serving his current contract out to June 2022, that the 2018-19 school year will be his final year at an annual rate of pay of $210,000.
  • This early notice saves the district taxpayers $110,000 in the 2018-19 Budget.
  • This enabled the Board to research and decide on using a search firm and in addition had the benefit of starting to get the word out to those interested, providing sufficient time to plan.
  • On March 6, 2018, the Board contracted with Rockland BOCES for an amount not to exceed $19,000 to complete the search. Neighboring districts have paid upwards of $100,000 to search firms.
  • Dr. McNeill's early announcement also gave an opportunity for candidates in the region to start assembling credentials and prospective references before the process begins.

The next steps are:

  • Rockland BOCES will begin their work in late September/early October, holding meetings with stakeholders, such as residents, students, and staff to develop a profile or brochure that includes specifics about the desired qualifications, info on Nanuet, deadlines, etc.
  • BOCES, in conjunction with the Board, will specify end dates for identifying finalists and the next steps.
  • The process could go into the first quarter of 2019, which gives time for the selected candidate to depart on 6/30/19 and help their district with a similar transition.

Thank you,

Mark S. McNeill

_____________________________________________________________________

Dear Parents and Guardians:

Given the tragedy in Paramus, I wanted to share with you the requirements that New York State, the Education Department and the District have in regard to School Bus Drivers. 

The District primarily uses Peter Brega, Inc. as its transportation contractors.  The District maintains its own fleet of three large buses and one small bus for use in field trips and sports.  All of our buses have seat belts installed for student use. 

All of the buses and their drivers operate using the same, stringent guidelines.

Our bus drivers (and Brega’s) need to be 19A certified under the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law.  To become certified, drivers have to have a commercial driver’s license with a student endorsement.  The driver abstract is pulled before the certification is given.  After they are certified, the following safety measures apply: 

  1. Biennial written tests
  2. Biennial skills test (road test)
  3. Every year the driver’s abstract is pulled
  4. SED requires two refresher classes a year.
  5. Physicals every year
  6. Random drug and alcohol tests
  7. Each year, three bus drills are conducted
  8. Fingerprinting is done for criminal background checks
  9. The District randomly (and when it receives a report) monitors whether bus drivers are exceeding the speed limit
  10. Cameras are on each bus to review safety as needed

Below there is a link to the New York State DMV’s requirements:

https://dmv.ny.gov/motor-carriers/information-and-forms-article-19

The District takes student safety very seriously, including on its buses.  If residents see a bus operating in an unsafe manner, it should be reported and it will be investigated.

Dr. Mark McNeill

_____________________________________________________________________

May 10, 2018

Dear Parents/Guardians and Community Members,

We are pleased to report that Nanuet High School was ranked nationally by U.S. News and World Report in their newly released 2018 list of best public high schools, receiving a SILVER medal!  

This recognition would not be possible without the hard work and commitment of Nanuet High School students and staff!

Below are links to the articles about this wonderful achievement:

https://www.lohud.com/story/news/education/2018/05/09/rockland-schools-named-best-ny-u-s-news-and-world-report/594076002/

https://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/new-york/districts/nanuet-union-free-school-district/nanuet-senior-high-school-13899

Thank you,

Mark S. McNeill

_________________________________________________________________

Dear Parents/Guardians and Community Members,

We are pleased to report that the Nanuet School District was selected as a First Place Winner in the 2018 Magna Awards program in recognition of the Outdoor Education Center!

The Magna Awards Program, sponsored by the National School Boards Association’s flagship magazine, American School Board Journal (ASBJ), honors districts across the country for innovative programs. A panel of school board members, administrators, and other educators selected the winners from more than 100 submissions.

Click here for a link to the April issue of ASBJ, which highlights the Nanuet Outdoor Education Center and all of the 2018 Magna Award winners:

http://www.nsba.org/newsroom/american-school-board-journal/asbj-april-2018/breaking-down-barriers/outdoor-education

Thank you,

Mark S. McNeill

Superintendent

_________________________________________________________________

Dear Parents/Guardians,

We are all very saddened by the recent events in Parkland, Florida.  Our sincerest thoughts and prayers are with the entire school community of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.  I write to inform you that the staff at Nanuet Public Schools works very hard everyday to keep your children safe while they are in our care.  Most importantly, each building has building-level emergency response teams that meet regularly to simulate emergencies and review our emergency procedures.  Following any major tragedy such as the one in Florida, our protocol is to convene each building’s Emergency Response Team to review emergency procedures, assess how our own school community is reacting to the tragedy and to improve our preparedness based on what we learn from the event.

The following is a summary of school security measures in place to ensure the safety of your children.  These measures are an extension of our effort each and every day to provide a safe and secure environment.  They are reflective of our community’s high expectations for school safety and include the following:

Single Point of Entry: We take seriously that all buildings should utilize a single point of entry and that all perimeter doors should be locked at all times and only opened when supervision is provided.  In addition to the replacement of all exterior and interior doors throughout the District which took place several years ago, we also have locks that enable staff and teachers to secure their doors from the inside in the event of an emergency.  Furthermore, the perimeter doors at Miller, Highview, and Barr Middle School are locked and checked regularly.  At Nanuet High School, all perimeter doors are locked and alarmed, which is a new security measure in place this school year.  Nanuet High School students have all been issued color-coded identification cards which allow staff and security personnel to recognize and confirm membership of the student body and their respective privileges. 

School Personnel: In addition to Clarkstown Police Officer Negri, the District’s full-time School Resource Officer who is stationed at the High School, private security personnel are stationed inside the entranceway of each building and at strategic places outside. We require that all visitors sign-in and wear visitors’ tags in all buildings.

Nanuet Schools also recognizes the critical need to support students who may be at risk for depression, anxiety, or may just have a need to talk.  As a result, the District added a full-time social worker several years ago, and will be adding an additional school psychologist to Nanuet High School, to address these important social and emotional needs.

Emergency Response Plans and Teams:  With the assistance of the Clarkstown Police Department, the Rockland BOCES Office of Safety and Risk Management and local emergency officials, the District has a school emergency plan in place for each school as well as a district-wide safety plan. These plans, reviewed annually, contain operating procedures for responding to a wide range of emergencies.  Our Building-level Crisis Teams review and update Emergency Response Plans regularly, conduct evacuation, lockdown (formerly “Code Red”) and lock out drills.  These procedures are done in collaboration with the Clarkstown Police Department and Rockland BOCES Office of Safety and Risk Management.  Both entities are on-site during our emergency response drills to observe and critique our procedures.  

In the event of an emergency that occurs in another school district, the Rockland BOCES Office of Safety and Risk Management notifies the Superintendent’s Office immediately and Nanuet takes any safety precautions necessary to keep students safe.

Nanuet School District K-12 Alert Notification System:  Through our K-12 Alert notification program, the District is able to notify parents via email, text and voice mail messages of emergency situations, including activation of a lockdown, early dismissals and emergency relocation of children (e.g., temporary breakdown of electricity or heat).

Please note: It is important to notify your child’s school of any change to the Emergency Authorization Form. This includes numbers at home as well as back-up phone numbers at work. When notification of an emergency is necessary, the system will not leave a message on answering machines. Therefore, numbers you provide on the Emergency Authorization Form must be numbers where a “live answer” will occur.

Evacuation: The District’s evacuation procedures including fire drills are practiced regularly. In the event of an emergency in which students must be evacuated and transferred to a nearby site, parents are notified via the K-12 Alert Notification System.

Security Cameras:  Security cameras are located at strategic locations both within (excluding bathrooms and locker rooms) and select areas outside each building.

Protecting the safety of our students and staff continues to be our first priority. 

Mark S. McNeill

Superintendent

 

_________________________________________________________________

Dear Residents,

To give community members an opportunity to learn how equalization rates impact the tax rates in both Clarkstown and Orangetown, the Board of Education will be holding a special meeting next Tuesday, February 6th at 7:30 pm in the High School Auditorium.

The Board of Education has invited Bill Beckmann, of Beckmann Appraisals Inc., who is an expert in analyzing how equalization rates are calculated and how they impact tax rates, to present information that will allow residents the opportunity to learn about these complicated issues and ask questions.

Prior to Mr. Beckmann’s presentation, we will provide a brief overview of the District’s prior years’ budgets and associated formula-driven tax levies and tax rates, in order to give context to the issues he will discuss.

All Nanuet Union Free School District taxpayers are encouraged to attend so Mr. Beckmann can address any issues of concern.  

Immediately following this presentation discussion, the Board will convene to its Regular Board of Education Meeting in the High School Library/Media Center.  

Thank you,

Mark S. McNeill

Superintendent

_________________________________________________________________

Dear Parents /Guardians,

We want to take a moment to alert you to a trend that we are continuing to see surface among students. The purpose of this letter is to inform you of the issue, give you e-cigarette resources, as well as alert you to the possible repercussions if your child engages in vaping on school property;  we take this issue very seriously due to the negative health effects vaping can have on our students.

What is vaping? Vaping is the act of inhaling a vapor produced by an electronic vaporizer or e-cigarette. The vapor can contain nicotine and other substances. The liquids that are vaporized come in many different flavors and might even smell fruity. For example, many of the flavors of these liquid concentrates, or “vape juices”, are sweet and even have names such as cinnamon roll, marshmallow, bubblegum, lemonade and cookies. The aerosol from e-cigarettes is not harmless. It can contain harmful and potentially harmful chemicals, including nicotine; ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs; flavoring such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious lung disease; volatile organic compounds such as benzene, which is found in car exhaust; and heavy metals such as nickel, tin and lead.

Vaporizers/e-cigarettes come in all different shapes. Some common styles look like a thick pen, a stylus for an iPad, a flash drive, or a small flask with a round chimney coming off the top. The devices are very small and can easily be hidden on a person or in a backpack. There is another device called a “Juul” (pronounced jewel), which has liquid “pods” that contain even higher concentrates of nicotine. The “Juul” device looks exactly like a USB drive which is small and easily concealed. We also know that these devices can be rigged to “vape” or smoke marijuana oils and other substances in an odorless method. The cost is considerably cheaper than cigarettes and they can be bought online and in convenience stores.

Our first and foremost concern is student health and safety. Students who are using these devices are inhaling nicotine and other harmful chemicals thinking it is safe. As you know, nicotine is highly addictive and some of these unregulated products that students are purchasing at vape shops or online contain higher levels of nicotine than cigarettes

As per our policy, any use and/or possession of tobacco, smokeless tobacco, cigars or smoking paraphernalia, including lighters and e-smoking devices, is prohibited on all school properties and has associated consequences. In addition, use of any tobacco product within the school buildings, school facilities, during school-sponsored activities or on school grounds or school buses by any individual, including school personnel and students, is prohibited at all times.

We are in the process of planning a parent presentation.  Please be on the lookout for more information.

Below please find some information related to the health risks of vaping. Please take a moment to look through this resource and have a conversation with your child.

https://ecigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov (Know the risks: talk with teens about e-cigarettes/ A tip sheet for parents)      

If you would like more information, I can be reached at akersh@nanuetsd.org or at (845) 627-9813.

We thank you in advance for being a partner with us in your child’s education. We need to work together as new trends emerge that risk the health and safety of our children. 

Thank you,

Alison Kersh, LCSW

Nanuet School Social Worker

VAASA Advisor

_________________________________________________________________

Dear Parents and Guardians, 

Every two to three years the school districts in Rockland County, in collaboration with Rockland Coalition for Drug-Free Schools & Communities, coordinate the administration of the PRIDE survey, which is a research-based, national questionnaire designed to gather information on specific behaviors and perceptions that research has shown to be associated with drug use behavior.  

Districts recently received the results of the 2017 County-wide PRIDE survey given to 8th and 11th grade students.  This information was included in the presentation of results at the PRIDE Conference on Thursday, April 6, 2017 at Dominican College.  The goal of Rockland County Coalition for Drug-Free Schools & Communities is to share information and resources. 

Below are links to Nanuet's results, the survey questions, and the PRIDE Conference flyer: 

 Link to PRIDE Survey Results 

 Link to PRIDE Survey Questions

 Link to PRIDE Conference Flyer

We recognize that youth attitudes, beliefs and behaviors are influenced by one’s family, school and peers, and as in the past, we will incorporate the PRIDE survey results in our effort to reduce drug use behaviors.

Thank you,

Mark S. McNeill

Superintendent

_________________________________________________________________

Dear Residents,

Beginning next school year students will experience 55 minutes or more in each core subject area across grades K-12.  Our elementary schools have benefited from longer learning periods and we are pleased to implement longer periods for Grades 7-12 as well.   The tenets of our Mission Statement underscore the importance of allowing teachers and students to engage and explore the curriculum for longer periods of time each day.

As with all changes, there will be multiple opportunities to answer questions and clarify the nuances of next year’s High School schedule.  Below is a comprehensive FAQ list to help explain the change.

Nanuet Senior High School

New Schedule FAQ’s

Q1: What are the significant differences in the new schedule?

A: The significant differences in the new schedule are:

  • Longer learning periods
  • Rotating schedule
  • Common school lunch

_________________LONGER LEARNING PERIODS ________________________

Q2: How long will classes be?

A: Class periods will be 55 minutes in length, including lunch.

Q3: Why increase the instructional minutes of each class?

A: The extended time in class will provide further opportunities to increase the use of various student-centered instructional styles (e.g., cooperative and small group learning, hands-on projects, project-based learning, and experiential performances). Longer periods will also offer a platform for deeper understanding of concepts and will provide more opportunities for critical thinking and problem solving. Assessing creativity, collaboration, effective communication, and innovation are the primary beliefs of our district mission. We are confident we will be more successful in enriching growth in these areas when afforded longer time with our students.   

Q4: What are the advantages to longer learning periods:

A: The Present schedule is 41 minute periods x 180 days = 7,380 instructional minutes.

     The New Schedule is 55 minute periods x 135 days = 7,425 instructional minutes.

     The advantages to the increase in time to 55 minute periods are:

  • More time for research, reports, debriefings, closure, and other active learning strategies and performance
  • Assessments with time for practice and application
  • More time for content depth and higher level learning activities
  • Increased time for staff to design authentic assessment (PLC)
  • Less fragmentation of instruction and more time on task
  • 55 minutes aligns with our Nanuet K-8 classroom experience

Q5: Have students experienced longer periods while attending The Nanuet Union Free School District?

A: Yes, students experience long learning periods (55-90 min) throughout elementary and middle levels. The Nanuet Senior High School is now aligning with this instructional environment.

 _________________ROTATION ________________________

 Q6: What will the daily rotation of periods look like?

A: Each day, 6 academic periods (3 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon, surrounding a “Common Lunch”) are scheduled. One AM class and one PM class does not meet daily.

Q7: Will we maintain the same number of instructional minutes per class over the course of an instructional year?

A: Yes, all classes will meet over the same instructional minutes as our present schedule.

                The Present schedule is 41 minute periods x 180 = 7,380 instructional minutes.

                The New Schedule is 55 minute periods x 135 = 7,425 instructional minutes.

Q8: Will there be parent information sessions to explain the new schedule?

A: Yes, we will announce multiple community information workshops.

Q9: Will my child lose continuity of instruction if their class doesn’t meet everyday?

A: Through longer periods our teachers have more time to review previous concepts, check for understandings, and assess practice. Students and teachers use collaborative digital software to communicate and hand in assignments. We believe this will improve continuity of curriculum in the long run and will help students adapt to the changing educational environment. 

Q10: What are the advantages of rotation with drop of classes?

A: The advantages of rotation with drop of classes are:

  • Time of day impacts learning (For example Day 1 - Math is 1st period, Day 2 Math is 2nd period, Day 3 Math is 3rd period and Day 1 – Science is 5th period, Day 2- Science is 6th period, Day 3 – Science is 7th period.)
  • Instructional process has fewer disruptions – fewer passing times:

                                    2 in the AM and 2 in the PM

  • Day is less frenetic for students and staff
  • Rotation of classes for a more interesting day (less routine)
  • Less stress for students – not all subjects each day
  • Mirrors a collegiate experience

_________________COMMON LUNCH ________________________

Q11: What is Common Lunch?

A: Common Lunch is when the entire school eats lunch at the same time. Both students and staff will share their lunchtime during 4th period, which evenly splits the morning and afternoon classes.

Q12: Why Common Lunch?

A: Common lunch is a 55 minute period in which all students will eat at the same time.  Students are responsible for cleaning up after themselves. They will have the opportunity to eat, relax, exercise, and connect with friends. We have explored other local schools (Pascack Valley, Nyack, and Suffern) that have implemented common lunch and received positive feedback from their administration, students, and staff.  

Q13: What are the advantages of Common Lunch:

A: The advantages of Common Lunch are:

  • Builds a sense of community
  • Students can use lunch time for library usage
  • Provides peer counseling opportunities
  • Students have more access to guidance programs
  • Students can use time to get extra help
  • Students with after school responsibilities can become more involved in clubs/activities
  • More small group support opportunities

Q14: Will there be enough serving lines and seating for everyone during the Common Lunch?

A: Yes – Students will be able to purchase lunch at multiple stations in the cafeteria as well as new kiosks located in the building. Additionally, we are adding new tables to accommodate student seating. Students will be able to sit in all common areas on the first and second floors.

Q15: Will Common Lunch be monitored by staff?

A: Yes – Similar to our current format, teachers will still monitor and support students during lunch time. Additionally, Common Lunch gives teachers the ability to eat with students, run clubs, provide “learning lunches”, or just connect with students throughout the building. School administration will walk the school during this period as well.   

Q16: When will clubs meet? What time will sports practices start?

A: Club meetings will take place during Common Lunch. Sports practices will begin at the same time as our current schedule. 

Q17: Will students be permitted to leave during the Common Lunch period?

A: As with our present schedule, only seniors have the privilege of utilizing the local stores and restaurants during lunch.  All other students must remain on campus during the Common Lunch.

_________________OTHER ________________________

Q18: Will the start time and end time of the school day change?

A: No, all schools will continue with their current schedules. 

Q19: What happens if school is closed due to inclement weather?

A: If school is closed due to inclement weather, we will resume the schedule with the next scheduled day of the rotation that was planned. For example, if Tuesday is scheduled to be a “Day 2” and we are closed due to inclement weather, Wednesday would then become a “Day 3”.

Q20: What are some of the benefits of the new schedule over the current traditional schedule?

A: The new schedule offers the following benefits:

  • Greater flexibility
  • The new schedule allows for more varied use of time in order to meet the requirements of the curriculum
  • The new schedule allows for an improved process to monitor each student’s learning on an ongoing basis and a systematic plan of intervention that provides a struggling student with additional time and support for learning
  • In the new schedule embedded support opportunities will be made available for remediation (RTI) and enrichment support (AP class labs, Language labs, ESL labs)

Q21: How is the new schedule similar to the current schedule?

A:

  • In the current schedule all students take, on average, 7 courses and 1 lunch each day.
  • In the NEW schedule all students take, on average, 7 courses and 1 lunch each day.