IPAC Minutes – Dec. 6, 2017

Instructional Program Advisory Council Meeting

December 6, 2017, 6:30 p.m.

Attendees: Jenifer Coiffi, Jessica Sanderson-Moore, Jacquie Gallo, Deb Gordon, Ron Frank, Chris Shortt, Deanna Bouton, Cecilia Cain (student), Erin Cassady-Dorion, Carl DeCesare, Debernee Privott, Johanna Stevenson (student), Mariah Mizbani (student), Jon Romano (student), Dennis McKoy, Louise Snider, Matt Leon, Cosimo Tangorra


  • Ron welcomes new members particularly the four student members that attended.

Team Picture, IPAC Web Page, Social Media, Communications Approach

  • Team photo will be moved to another date, so that more of the active members can be include
  • District Communications lead, Matt Leon, tells us the new webpage for IPAC is in draft form and will be live next week. Will include subcommittee information, and minutes/agendas. The focus of the site is to share as much information as we can to the community.
  • Social Media for IPAC and subcommittee – Dr. Tangorra would like us all to get active in sharing information. However, the posts and content should go through a central feed. All content that IPAC members want to post re: IPAC topics can be sent to Matt or Dr. Tangorra. We may soon have our own IPAC accounts/handles for posting information.
  • We need community feedback! Anything coming in can be sent to Dr. Tangorra or Matt Leon.

Enrollment Study Update

  • Dr. Tangorra discussed the Enrollment Study – It’s a 70+ page document with a ton of information on enrollment and capacity of the school buildings within the district.
  • After a question from one of the students in attendance, Dr. Tangorra answer that the Niskayuna BOE will be the decision on any capital project proposals. They would do this with input from community. Dr. Seversky will present at the January 9 BOE meeting. Dr. Tangorra encourages the IPAC to go through the data in the report, as he is hoping that the community has some folks looking through the data. School Messenger will be used as well to encourage the community to review and respond to the report. No matter what happens now, the timeline for any capital project would be 3+ years. If we were to determine there is a need, the referendum would likely be May 2019.
  • Jess mentioned that the IPAC Google folder contains the enrollment study for us all to peruse and disseminate to any constituents that we can.

Sub-Committee Report Outs

School Start Times
  • Research/case studies and published literature on start times have been reviewed and all info is on google drive for IPAC to review. This includes research on benchmarking Peer and Aspirant Schools including those identified by the district as benchmark schools
  • The reviewed a sleep survey already completed by SGF schools. SGF also sis a webinar available through NYSSBA. Deanna noted interesting implementation points in webinar. While we are reviewing logistical problems, SGF seems to making it work in various ways and they report positive results.
  • Doing Survey at NHS, students are spearheading
  • The discussion at the last meeting, the APA recommends 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep, weekend catchup sleep worsens circadian rhythm… a fundamental piece to much of sleep research. Students in attendance of this meeting agree that the upper end (9.5 hours) is not attainable to average student
  • APA recommends education to parents about this topic. This may be the most important piece of information to communicate to Niskayuna parents (inclusive of removing screens, setting limits for high school students, etc).
  • The subcommittee intended to review the mental health survey results raw data for the district. Dr. Tangorra says he will help to facilitate the information transfer.
  • Question from group: “what’s the consensus so far?” Response from Deanna, “It’s tough to say because we need to look at the benefits and whether changing the times really provide the benefits that Niskayuna needs (mental health seems to be the most problematic).” Question from student in group, “will start times actually push for more sleep? Or will the students just shift the timing of sleep?” The students in meeting have varying opinions on the impact of moving the start time.
  • Dr. Tangorra mentions that of any of the suburban council schools, we are the farthest down the road thus far, regardless of agenda items on recent board meetings.
  • Christ Shortt recaps the last meeting and discusses the already existing nationally-recognized pathways. The last meeting, they started a gap analysis and created a “heat map” of this.
  • This meeting they have new NHS grad data to quantify data, they have also reached out to AASA to find out specifics about indicators in the pathways, as some are open-ended.
  • Next meeting for the subgroup is already scheduled and they will complete the gap analysis, life readiness indicators will take longer, and look for more access to data.
  • Dr. Tangorra reiterated his willingness to help, and Chris Shortt mentioned the guidance counselors have already been very helpful.
  • Multiple pathways is being promoted by district, and they want to do a better job of promoting CTE pathway (i.e. Mohonasen program) they are going to change the way the program is marketed (Nisky career and tech night). Dr. Tangorra stated a “BOCES program” is a “Niskayuna Program” and he will have a hard Target of 8th grade parents so that they can be fully aware of the program process, content, components.
  • Chris Shortt states that February is the target for making determinations based on completed gap analysis.
  • They are also in need of a student as some committee members. They will be asking the guidance department, and students in attendance offered their help as well.
  • Three studies were reviewed at the last meeting and they all have different conclusions
  • The 1st meeting was productive and the members discussed articles/research. They are looking for focus groups to discuss research further. Surveys were mentioned, but not sure on whether they would do it
  • Lots of strong opinions on both sides, but many focused on the older students. This group only focuses on the K-6.
  • There is an existing homework policy at the district. Right now, policy is not enforced and teachers have had their own academic freedom on this topic.
  • In the subgroup meetings, some other discussion topics are isolating math/reading and finding consistencies through elementary buildings
  • There are cross functional possibilities in this committee, like others. Such as working with mental health subcommittee from Environment and Culture and the subcommittee on enrollment and start times. All are related.
Enrollment Study and School Configuration
  • The subcommittee has not had a meeting yet, but will share out comments later.
  • Dr. Tangorra just wants questions from the community. The goal of subcommittee is to field and relay these questions, no other work required at this time.
  • Erin mentioned that she could share with PTO Council via email so that smaller discussions could take place at school level.
  • A member of the meeting asked if there a summary of the report. There is no summary because we do not want to influence anyone’s questions or comments. He is seeking pure opinions and comments from the community.
Closing Remarks
  • Ron commented that these report outs are SO helpful in getting good dialogue going. He is very pleased with the progress.
  • Dr. Tangorra reiterates the bleed through of these committees and the importance that all of the subcommittees work together to share information for the best outcomes.

Next Meeting: Feb 28, May 2 (6:30-8:30PM)