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Polansky: Tasks Ahead for Huntington Schools

Successes are noteworthy but challenges remain as new schoolyear begins.

The following is from Huntington School Superintendent James W. Polansky

The summer will soon come to a close and the 2012-2013 school year will quickly be upon us. Once again, I’d like to thank you for your support during 2011-2012.  The strides made by our students and within our school community did not occur randomly. It is a direct result of the collective efforts put forth by members of every vested faction. 

Last year, our district’s achievements were beyond praiseworthy.  We worked together to build and support a 2012-2013 budget that will keep our programs and services intact, despite the impact of a broad range of costly state mandates and non-discretionary financial obligations.  We constructed multi-year capital improvement and technology upgrade plans to ensure that our facilities are appropriately functioning and that we are able to prepare our students for success in a constantly changing digital environment, as well as enhance our ability to communicate with district constituents both rapidly and accurately.

Huntington High School produced its first finalist in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search since 1950.  Student performance in the Siemens Foundation Competition in Math, Science & Technology was equally as impressive, with high school researchers earning regional finalist and semi-finalist honors.  In addition, district students attained high marks and recognition in national history, math Olympiad, mock trial, and numerous essay-writing competitions.  Our music students and ensembles continue to impress judges in all levels of competition. 

Our student-athletes and teams amassed numerous town, county, and state awards and honors.  Our Advanced Placement program has expanded considerably in terms of the number of students who choose to challenge themselves, examination performance, and the resulting volume of Advanced Placement scholars.  Our graduating seniors have moved on to some of the finest post-secondary institutions in the nation, many with scholarships in hand.  

Nonetheless, the challenges remain.  We live in a time when financial limitations are the norm and education is under constant scrutiny.  The tax cap era has commenced, so we must continue to plan and manage our budgets responsibly and with efficiencies in mind.  Additionally, we have significant work to do in terms of facility use planning and maintenance.

School accountability is undergoing a transformation statewide, with a more significant and appropriate focus on college and career readiness.

The new Common Core Standards, a new Annual Professional Performance Review Plan for teachers and administrators, and newly implemented district policies associated with Response to Intervention practices, the Dignity for All Students Act, and concussion management are but a few of the primary undertakings that will require our attention during the coming year. 

We will remain dedicated to helping each and every student reach his or her individual academic and social potential. 

Once again, I am grateful for your steadfast commitment to our schools and for helping us preserve a long-standing tradition of educational excellence in Huntington.  I look forward to our continued progress as a district and to maintaining a particularly strong school-home connection.  On behalf of the Board of Education and administration, I wish you a productive and rewarding 2012-2013 school year!

VillageJenny September 05, 2012 at 08:33 PM
So. Mr. Polansky "can do little about" poverty? Does that mean the schools just throw up their hands and give up on the students from poor homes? I do not have all the answers but I do know that Catholic elementary and high schools as well as charter schools, particularly in New York City, are having remarkable results with children from low-income homes. High school graduation rates of 99% with over 90% going on to college. Of course, these schools require tuition but there are scholarships available for those who cannot afford it. For years, I have been contributing to The Inner-City Scholarship Fund of the Archdiocese of New York. Many poor students, often from single-parent homes, have been helped by this program to succeed in school and move on to higher education and successful careers. With the extremely high taxes we pay here, there should be no need for private donations to achieve similar results.
Karen September 06, 2012 at 03:54 AM
It's not just poverty that's the issue. The many immigrant students with limited English knowledge/skills are expected to pass these state assessments just like their non immigrant classmates. This also applies to all special education students; irregardless of their academic ability. You need to look at "subgroups" when trying to disect the data from NY State. Village Jenny, it's commendable that you contribute to school programs; but, doing so doesn't make you an expert on education. Huntington School District spends over 40K per student for students in Special Education. Unfortunately, money spent is no guarantee of future success on the State Exams.
ergodic September 12, 2012 at 04:16 PM
A sample of Huntington SD performance relative to some neighboring districts may be of interest. Also note the 09/09/12 Newsday article in which some superintendents from "focus" districts commented on the use of "old" (2009-10 & 2010-11) data in the NYS school ratings.Shown below are 2011 & 2012 ELA test results (% of test-takers in grades 3-8 who met/exceeded proficiency standards-levels 3 & 4) as well as pertinent demographic and spending rate (2011-12) info. _____________% of pupils in grades 3-8_____% free or________Spending District________scoring in levels 3 & 4_______reduced_________Per Pupil _________._______2012__.___2011________price lunch_______2011-12 CldSprngHarbor____82.2______78.9_____________0__________$29506 Harborfields___.____80.9______78.1_____________7__________$20786 HalfHollowHills______77.1______73.6____________10__________$22337 Elwood______._____77.0______71.4____________15__________$21185 Northpt_ENrthpt__.__74.2______73.3_____________5__________$24058 SouthHuntington____63.5______59.6____________37__________$23106 Huntington____.____62.4______60.8____________27__________$25234 ."7" District Aver__.__73.1______70.2________________________$23316 Suffolk____________64.3______61.6________________________$22593 The % of grade 3-8 students in the Huntington (HUFSD) & South Huntington SDs who met/exceeded NYS proficiency standards in 2011 & 2012 ELA tests was significantly lower than the average of the 7 listed districts..
ergodic September 12, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Continued from above: The ELA performance of these two SDs was however generally in line with the Suffolk average. Some improvement in 2012 performance (relative to 2011) is noted. Though not tabulated above, the 2011 graduation rate in HUFSD (84.1%) noticeably lagged the other six districts (92.0% --> 97.0%). The disparities were probably not due to funding - spending in HUFSD was about $2000 per pupil above the "7" district average. Granted that all things are not equal in the above comparisons: the % of students in HUFSD & SHUFSD eligible for free or reduced price lunch-(which reflects local socioeconomics) is significantly higher than the other five districts. It is noted that Elwood, Huntington & South Huntington are categorized as "average needs" districts by NYS while the others in this group are "low needs". The PI (performance index - a NYS-defined metric) was also computed for the HUFSD grade 3-8 ELA in 2011 & 2012. The Pi was marginally below the goal (153) in 2011 & marginally above in 2012. .
ergodic September 20, 2012 at 05:04 PM
A modification to the PI data in the last para of the above comment is required. Based on NYS Report Card data, the PI for HUFSD grades 3-8 (all students) in 2011 was 153, well above the NYS goal (aka EAMO) of 120. The EAMO had been scheduled to advance to 166 in 2011: but, for various reasons, it was lowered by NYSED in March 2011. The corresponding PI for HUFSD in 2012 was 154 - also well above the reset EAMO of 146 (but essentially the same performaance by HUFSD as in 2011). It is noted that the criteria used by NYSED to assess school/district performance and progress has undergone a major change starting in 2012-13.. This is reflected in the new district/school designations (Priority, Focus, Rewards) which were recently announced by NYSED.

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