MCS grad rate up; district readies for new year

By Brian Sweeney
The graduation rate at Margaretville Central School improved to 92.1 percent during the 2011-12 academic year, school officials said recently.

Superintendent Tony Albanese provided the News with updates on a number of topics involving district matters.

The superintendent said the graduation rate improvement was welcome and that “we will always aspire to 100 percent graduation.”

He noted that graduation statistics for districts with smaller enrollments can present a distorted picture.

“Given our small numbers, percentages do not always tell a true story.  In addition, students who earn a Graduate Equivalent Diploma or Individual Education Diploma are not counted in the graduation percentage,” he explained.

In a related matter, Superintendent Albanese said that Margaretville has been removed from the School on Need of Improvement (SINI) list.

He said that SINI is a No Child Left Behind federal program that sets benchmarks for student achievement.  If a school misses the benchmark for two years it is placed on a SINI list. As a result of its low graduation rate, MCS was placed on the SINI list for two years.
The superintendent said that the NYS Education Department recently had its waiver approved by the U.S. Department of Education to change the criteria for SINI schools. As a result of these updates, Margaretville is no longer included on the SINI list.
Another change at MCS is the implementation of a new program called Engineering by Design or EbD.  

Superintendent Albanese pointed out that EbD is a national curriculum that teaches best practices in the use of technology for students in grades 7 and 8.  
“We are very excited about the innovations this program will provide to our students,” he noted.

Board changes
MCS held its annual board of education reorganization meeting in July.  Kate VanBenschoten of Margaretville was sworn in as a new member, joining Kurt Holcherr of Fleischmanns, who joined the board in May.  

Randy Moore of Margaretville was elected president for a second year and Lee Austin of Halcott Center was named vice president.  

The board of education will hold three workshops over the summer to define goals and update policies on board governance and teamwork.