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A message from the Superintendent

Dear Parents and Community Members: 

Hoping that this note continues to find you all healthy and well and ready for a long weekend, even if many of the festivities have been cancelled or altered. As I noted in my last communication to you, there was truly a remarkable collective effort to ensure that our kids stayed connected to their learning, their teachers, their schools, and to one another during the three month closure. During that time, I am confident in stating that we all learned a tremendous amount and we will be assessing this learning over the summer to determine what practices should be kept, where do we need to/can we improve our practices, and what practices we will leave behind as we move towards fall. Thank you all again for your work with and support of our students and their learning.   

Now, a few follow-ups and a few new announcements for your attention: 

  1. Fall 2020 Reopening – There is nothing more pressing on our minds right now than what this fall will look like. As I have mentioned in previous communications, there are many, many more questions than answers right now as we await direction from Governor Cuomo, the associated guidance from the State Education Department, and the often necessary interpretation from our attorneys. Given the speed and frequency of changes since March and the complexity of these three steps, we are very hesitant to go too far down a planning road at the risk of being told that our plans/action steps are not allowed under the latest directives. That said, we do anticipate receiving this information in mid-July at which point we can begin to make more concrete plans. In the meantime, we continue to work both in the District and in the region on sharing information, reviewing the feasibility of certain models for in-person learning, purchasing materials, supplies and equipment that we anticipate needing, preparing various bus routes and seating arrangements, and planning for professional learning that will support students and staff alike in improving teaching and learning in general and in an online learning experience in particular. While our hope is that we will indeed be able to have students attend school in our buildings, we are still a very long 60+ days away from that possibility during which time a good many changes are expected. We will continue to update you on our progress and with any direction that we receive from Albany. 
  1. Personnel Updates-

    Special Education Leadership – After over 15 years of service to our District, Ms. Kristi Jensen will be retiring from her position as Director of Special Education effective June 30, but has agreed to stay on as interim supervisor until September 1 as we continue to restructure the organization of the Department under current budget constraints. The first step in this reorganization is the appointment of Ms. Nancy Lashway as the Director which will take effect on July 1. The significant work that Kris and Nancy have done together over the past two years will serve us well as we evolve to a new organizational structure and as we begin to train on and implement the District's instructional and monitoring plans. Thank you. Ms. Jensen!!

    Malta Ave Transition – Dr. Harry Brooks has served as the interim principal for Malta Ave since just prior to the closure and has done a remarkable job leading the MA team throughout the closure and in preparation for the arrival of new principal, Mrs. Sarah Johnson. Having known Harry for over 2 decades now, his work with us came as no surprise to me, but I am extremely grateful to him, to the MA team, and the MA parents for working so closely and effectively together. Thank you, Dr. Brooks!!

    District Office Transition – Included in the various staffing changes in the 2020-21 budget is the elimination of the Superintendent’s Secretary position at the District Office. After 26 years of service to the office, Pattie Ball has been reassigned and is now working as the shared secretary to Mrs. D'Agostino and Mrs. Skellie in the Office of Student Support Services and Curriculum and Instruction. Mrs. Amy Giaquinto who currently serves as Assistant Superintendent Brian Sirianni’s secretary will be transitioning to serving as a shared secretary for our two offices. The District Office contact information will remain the same. 
  1. Summer Extended Year Program for Students With Disabilities – As some of you are aware based on communications from Ms. Jensen and me, the District will not be offering an in-person summer program for students with disabilities this year, largely because we simply could not get to a model where we felt students and staff would be as safe and healthy as possible from the bus ride to the classroom, particularly in light of the ongoing changes with the behavior of the COVID-19 virus. Instead, we will be offering a remote program in hopes that students will be able to transition back into our buildings this fall. Should you have questions on this program, please contact Ms. Lashway or Ms. Jensen. 
  1. Summer Practice Opportunities for Teams and Student Athletes – Last Friday we received notice from the Governor that schools are to remain closed with few exceptions which did not include allowing our fall sports teams to begin any kind of practice. This was terribly disappointing as a good deal of planning had gone into designing programs that adhered to all current requirements such that they were both safe and healthy for our student athletes and coaches. Thank you to our coaches and to Athletic Director Mr. Sunkes for the time and effort that went in to this planning. 
  1. Use of Fields and Tennis Courts – Despite the directive that our student athletes and teams are not allowed to practice, the community and community-based groups may use our facilities so long as our District Facilities Use process is utilized and all rules currently in place regarding group size, social distancing, and mask wearing are in place. Please help yourselves, one another, and us by strictly adhering to these rules. 
  1. Celebration of our Students and Staff – And finally, thanks so very much to all of you who worked on, participated in, or otherwise supported our student recognition parades at all levels over the past few weeks. These were very special events after the most unique of years that I am sure have provided great memories and a welcomed relief for our students and staff. This is just one area that we will be looking at to determine whether we will continue these in coming years when we are back to a more typical end of year.  

Wishing you all a healthy and happy summer season. 

Ken Slentz
Superintendent of Schools
Ballston Spa CSD