Update on Capital Project, School Configuration, Mission & Vision | January 2020

A message from the Superintendent

Dear Families, Faculty, Staff and Community Members:

I hope that this new year is off to a great start for you and your family. The year 2020 will be significant one for our school district. Along with all of our everyday learning and school activities, we will be making decisions about how best to maintain and improve our school buildings for the long-term, culminating with a capital project vote in December. Although this planning has been taking place for some time, we are entering a pivotal stage and I want to provide you with this update on the process and an invitation to meetings taking place this month. At the end of this e-mail there is a timeline for our planning.

School Configuration Options

As you likely  know, after a year-long study that involved the Capital Project Community Advisory Committee working with a consultant and subsequent community input, the Board of Education narrowed potential school configuration options to three in October. These options are:

  • The current configuration of K-5 elementary schools and two, grade 6-8 middle schools;
  • K-4 elementary schools and a grade 5-6 school and a grade 7-8 school serving students districtwide; and
  • K-5 elementary schools with a single grade 6-8 middle school.

The high school grade levels will remain the same, grades 9-12, under any scenario. We are however exploring the potential for prekindergarten in the district and how it might factor into any of the configuration options.

Why is the district considering different school configuration options?

As we plan the capital project, we want be sure that we are using educational space and taxpayer resources in the way that is most effective, sustainable and beneficial for students. We are running short on space, our enrollment is projected to grow and we have identified the need for more flexible space for hands-on, interdisciplinary learning for students. Even if our configuration doesn’t change, we will still have a need to invest in our facilities.

What’s Next: January 14 Board of Education Meeting

The capital project and school configuration options under consideration will be on the agenda at the January 14 Board of Education meeting, which will take place 5:30 p.m. in the District Office Board Room. At the meeting, our architects will present information about the capital ramifications of the options. We will also have reports from the Capital Project Community Advisory Committee’s Transportation Subcommittee and Instructional Program Subcommittee. The program group has been looking into research regarding school configuration and gathering perspectives from Niskayuna teachers about the options before us. This meeting promises to be very informative.

Community Forums on School Configuration: January 22 and 25

With a decision on our configuration by the Board of Education expected later this winter or early spring, we want our decision-making to be guided by as much community input as possible. Therefore, we have scheduled two community forums on school configuration this month:

  • Wednesday, Jan. 22, 6:30 p.m., Niskayuna High School Little Theater
  • Saturday, Jan. 25, 10:30 a.m., Niskayuna High School Little Theater
  • If you plan to attend, please RSVP at https://forms.gle/PvTSQGgMQMgUHUH17 to help us plan for conversation facilitators.

Reimagining Our Vision and Mission Statements

Do you know the district’s vision and mission statements? If not, don’t worry – you are not alone. However, we would like to change that. This year we will be updating our vision and mission statements so that they are more brief, memorable and reflective of the district today and the direction we are headed. In recent years, we have developed an academic program vision and have been increasingly focused on areas such as student voice, multiple pathways to success, equity, and mental health and wellness. Our vision and mission should better capture and communicate the direction that we are headed. Look for more information in the near future, including a Thoughtexchange that will expand this conversation to involve the whole community, and an announcement about the opportunity to serve on a “Synthesis Group” that will help in the process.

We hope to see you soon!

This year, I will continue to attend faculty, PTO, student, staff and community meetings to share information and continue the conversation about the items above. Whether it’s at one of these meetings, in a classroom, or school event, I look forward to seeing you this year, which promises to be an exciting one in our school community.

All the best,

Cosimo Tangorra, Jr., Ed.D

Planning Timeline: Next 90 Days

Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020

Board of Education meeting: Report from Architects and Transportation & Instructional Program Subcommittee, District Office Board Room, 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020

Community forum on School Configuration Options (6:30 p.m., NHS Little Theater)

Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020

Community forum on School Configuration Options (10:30 a.m., NHS Little Theater)

January & February, 2020

Continued PTO, Faculty, Staff, Student & Community Updates

Continued Board of Education deliberations (informed by work of architects and Capital Project Community Advisory Committee)

Later Winter/Early Spring 2020

Updated Mission & Vision presented to Board of Education

School Configuration Decision