The Nov. 14 board of education meeting focused on the proposed adoption of new _software to improve the district's emergency communications and school district's director of technology David Baylen gave a live demonstration and explained the _Connect-ED software._"We have to be ahead of the curve in integrating a lot of types of data, including the _home-school partnership and community outreach," said Superintendent of Schools _Geoffrey N. Gordon._
"There is no limitation but your imagination," said Baylen of the software's _capabilities. Connect-ED is an entirely Web-based application that allows school _administrators to record messages that can be quickly distributed, by voice and e-mail, to _thousands of people. While the software, which is fully compatible with the district's _PowerSchool management software, significantly expedites communication during emergencies, "we're looking at much more than just that," Baylen said. Because of the _software's versatility, different messages can be sent to different groups; for example, _Spanish-speaking homes could receive calls in Spanish. _Baylen divided the software's "limitless" applications into four general categories: _community outreach, attendance, emergency, and single survey. For community outreach, _the district could send out announcements, such as wake-up calls for often-tardy students _and reminders for parents. Unexcused and excused absences could be confirmed with an _automated message sent to students' homes. In the event of an emergency, Connect-ED _allows for the rapid distribution of messages; 25,000 messages can be sent in less than _30 minutes. _
_Baylen explained to board member Mark Marcellus that in the software's seven years of _existence, there has never been a security breech. Finally, Baylen said, the software's interactivity provides the opportunity for surveys and _immediate feedback. After listening to a prerecorded message, participants can press a _number on their phones to enter their feedback on a variety of possible issues, from _whether Breathalyzers should be used at school events to whether they will be attending _the school open house. _Along with Baylen, Assistant Superintendent for Business and District Clerk Mary Callahan _outlined the cost of the program at $4.95 per student each year along with a one-time _$1,700 startup fee. These costs equate to about $14,930 if adopted in January, and then _$24,000 per year after that. Because the program is eligible for BOCES aid, the state could _defray some of the costs to about $8,000 this year and about $13,000 in subsequent _years. There is also the possibility of receiving Homeland Security grants._
Following the Connect-ED presentation, Schreiber seniors Jason Lifton and Amanda Sall _spoke about the Student Council's "Rock and Wrap It Up" initiative during the first round of _community comments. They hope to begin a partnership with school food providers in _delivering leftover food to homeless shelters._"This is another example of our student's wonderful commitment to community service _and a testament to their efforts," said Dr. Gordon._Schreiber principal Jay Lewis also spoke about the Student Council's interviewing process _to select three student representatives to the school board beginning in January._
During the Finance Committee's Report, Dr. Gordon described the adverse effects of the dwindling _state contribution to pension funds. The New York State pension has increased 400 _percent in four years. To make up for that increase, which came without increased state _aid, the district's budget for supplies has been cut 33 percent._"I would like to make the community aware of these unbelievable escalations," said Dr. _Gordon. "Who is being hurt? The students and teachers."_
During the facilities report, Ms. Callahan reported damage to the Schreiber gym that was _caused by the construction company working on the school. The damage affected after-_school activities, but the cost of repairs will be fully reimbursed by the company. She also _spoke about her recommendation for a $100,000 repair to the Schreiber gym for next _year. A 4-foot-by-10-foot section of the gym has developed protruding nails._
Following the facility discussion, the board discussed the scheduling of future board-_community forums, hoping to build upon last year's efforts. Future forums, which would _cost the district no money, may feature a keynote speaker and would then break off into _smaller discussion groups. Board President Rob Seiden suggested having a public hearing _on the newly built turf field "to develop policies and listen to the Bible Church, Monfort _residents and others from the community."
_To collaborate on curriculum mapping, Schreiber teachers met on Wednesday, Nov. 29. _Dr. Gordon described the district's curriculum initiatives and teacher-involvement meeting _as a "grassroots type of thing." _"Hopefully, the community can then realize how arduous a task curriculum planning is," _said Dr. Gordon_
Dr. Gordon noted the shortage of nurses in the district. _"With escalating health problems, we need to be ahead of the curve and innovative," said _Dr. Gordon, although he was unable to discuss the specifics of the situation because of _personnel issues.