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Sherman school district attempting to establish new pre-K programs

March 17, 2016
By David Prenatt ( , Westfield Republican

SHERMAN - Sherman Central School District hopes to see stars when it comes to its pre-kindergarten program - Quality Stars, that is.

Sherman superintendent Kaine Kelly told board of education members that assistance from the Chautauqua County Education Coalition may enable the district to establish a QUALITYstarsNY pre-Kindergarten program. This program is among those promoted by the state Early Childhood Advisory Council, which provides "strategic direction and advice" to the state regarding early childhood issues. (Taken from the QUALITYstarsNY website).

The QUALITYstarsNY program aligns participating districts to a set of standards aimed at promoting educational success, Kelly said. It will assist Sherman in the development of the program through data monitoring, training, communication and outreach to the community, he said.

"We are currently applying and doing the self-assessment to become a QUALITYstars pre-k program," Kelly said.

Kelly, who has been involved with CCEC, said that group can help the district establish the program and can also channel funding for it to Sherman. The CCED focuses its efforts both on workforce readiness and pre-kindergarten readiness, he said.

"There are small groups around the county working with this issue. The Chautauqua County Education Coalition is pulling them together," Kelly said.

Kelly said he has also been talking with Elizabeth Starks, founder and executive director of the Chautauqua County Child Care Center, about establishing a "birth to 3-year-old" program in the district. The New York Board of Regents recently adopted a policy statement calling for education to be available to children beginning at birth, as well as for the mandatory school age to be lowered to five.

"We are hopeful we can show the need and get a birth to 3-year-old program going here," Kelly said.

In other business, board members learned that preliminary figures indicate that the district may not have to raise the tax levy for the 2016-17 year. Sherman financial manager Kimberly Oehlbeck presented information on the budget that showed a very close margin between expenditures and revenues.

Kelly said that, while nothing is definite yet, the figures looked good for the coming year. "Everything is in order," he said. "We're within a few thousand dollars of being balanced."

Kelly also noted early in the meeting that the district has built a capital outlay fund of $100,000 into the budget that will allow the district to perform small maintenance projects each year, while eventually being reimbursed by state aid.

"It requires an initial outlay of $100,000. the next year, we get it back in state aid," Kelly said. "This way, we can start a program of doing $100,000 worth of maintenance every year."

Kelly also reported that he recently met with the president and vice-president of Jamestown Community College to discuss strengthening the district's partnership with the college. "I view JCC's success as our success. The more robust program they can offer, the more robust program we can offer," Kelly said. "We all walked away with positive things."

In a related matter, school guidance counselors Robert Minton and Shawn McKane reported that 18 students have signed up for a total of 24 college-level courses offered by Jamestown Community College.

Kelly also told board members that the district is in line to receive five new computers through the office of U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer. Kelly said he was contacted by Schumer aide Jordan Nichols who said the computers were part of the senator's program of technological aid and Sherman had been chosen as a recipient district.

From the departmental reports, school nurse Deanie Berg Thorsell noted that she will be working with elementary students to develop and plant raised garden beds. "Our plan is to develop a garden that can be tended, harvested and eaten by the children in all four seasons," she said.



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