Superintendent's Message

Dear Binghamton Families,

Thank you so much for making my first official year as superintendent so memorable. Looking back at this year, I realize together how much this district has accomplished. With a new district mission, vision and set of goals, our school community began the year with a renewed sense of commitment and optimism.

Arming Students With Skills, Self-Direction

One of our district goals is to make sure all students have the necessary skills and self-direction to enter college or start a career. Our teachers and faculty work daily to teach and reinforce what are referred to as “soft-skills;” learning how to best communicate an idea, teamwork, thinking deeply about an issue, and engaging with work with a positive outlook. These characteristics are reinforced through each buildings Positive Behavior and Intervention System and supported through the District’s newly adopted Code of Conduct.

We have also began to change the way students interact with each other and information through the district’s one-to–one technology initiative. Providing all students access to a mobile tablet began this year in grades 5 and 6. Next year the program will expand to include fourth, seventh and eighth grade students. Our students also worked with apps and processes that allow our students to collaborate with each other, and have access to new material.

Graduation Rate a Priority
Another district goal is to make sure that all students graduate. Successful completion of high school begins when students first enter school. We have seen growth across the district in academic performance. In grades K-8, across each grade level there was between a 9% to 18% increase at the end of the year in the number of students who are reading above grade level. In mathematics, a 9% to 34% increase was seen in first through grade 8 students performing on grade-level. This year, 320 students graduated from the senior class: 133 graduated with honors. This means that they completed their course work with a GPA of 87 or higher. 67 graduated with a regent’s diploma with advanced distinction. Over 100 students graduated Rod Serling Fine Arts distinction, 27 with Project-Lead the Way certification and 12 with a diploma from either the full International Baccalaureate degree or from the International Baccalaureate Career-Related program. 214 graduates will be attending a 2 or 4 year college program. Nine students will be joining our armed forces and giving back to our country. At our Senior Awards night, we had over 90 seniors who were honored with scholarships. The entire senior class has completed over 4,000 hours of community service. Indeed, it was a year full of academic accomplishments.

Safe and Structured Environment
Another district goal is to provide safe and structured environments that ensure students’ academic, social and emotional well-being. With the capital budget being passed, with a large majority we will take the next steps to move forward to enhance our facilities. Construction will begin next summer at the high school for the new vestibule area and cafeteria and Thomas Jefferson will see construction in their entrance area and in the gymnasium. The entrance to Benjamin Franklin Elementary school, along with the early childhood classrooms, will also be remodeled. A plan has been put into place so that all school building entrances will be reconfigured within the next three years to provide additional safety measures. Additionally, this work will be accompanied by improvements to our technology infrastructure across all buildings, except the newly built MacArthur, and energy performance improvements.

Embracing Our Diversity
Another district goal is to embrace diversity in all its forms. Throughout the year, every employee underwent culturally inclusive education training, to learn about our diverse students and their families. The staff took part in poverty simulations to learn about situations that our students and their families may have experienced. Our staff also learned about resilience and how it plays a role in education so they can support the needs of our students.

Engaging Stakeholders
Communication has been key this year. One of the goals was to engage all stakeholders in the district. One of the ways we have increased our engagement was by redesigning the district website. The new website is now ADA compliant and accessible to those with disabilities. It also features up-to-date information in an easy to use format. We now have a new custom mobile app that allows push notifications to be sent to subscribers. A communications chart has been developed that outlines how each means of communication is being used so our community can be informed consumers.

Increasing forms of reciprocal communication has also been an area of focus. We have been keeping families more involved with what is going on in the classrooms through the use of social media. In two short years, our Facebook page has grown to be the second most followed school district page in the area. We also launched the hashtag #BPatriotProud for Twitter. This allowed students, parents and teachers to share what was going on around the district in real time. To increase parent and community voice in establishing opportunities and supports for students, we had four community-based task forces meeting: The Athletic Taskforce, Fine Arts Taskforce, Family Engagement Taskforce and Attendance Taskforce. Each taskforce took on challenges and worked to create solutions. Athletic Taskforce is exploring ways to expand opportunities for youth to be involved in our programs and the processes used to sustain and improve quality programing. The Fine Arts Taskforce expanded the dance program for the Rod Serling School of Fine Arts, brought “Arts In Action” to our elementary schools and realized additional summer camp opportunities. Family Engagement Taskforce culminated with a plan to establish a family-friendly resource book and a Parent University program. And, we have started using the SafeArrival attendance monitoring system which allows our families an easier way to report and respond to absences, an outcome from the Attendance Task Force.

This year has also been a banner year for leadership throughout the district. We started with several new board of education members, administrators, teachers, aides and support staff. Two administrators retired which resulted in a re-organization of positions and the joining of new administrators to our district team. Warm wishes to Director of Special Services, Annette Minarcin, who is retiring and will be replaced by BHS Assistant Principal, Tia Rodriguez. And congratulations to Associate Principal, Martin Klein, who is also retiring. This retirement, along with Mrs. Rodriquez’s move to Special Services provided an opportunity to put in to place two Associate Principal positions at BHS. They will be filled by Miriam Purdy and Dawne Anna-Adams. Benjamin Franklin Elementary Principal, Suzanne Thomas, will be sharing her skills in Pupil Services and Assistant Principal, Kyle Skinner, will take over as the principal at Franklin. These changes have resulted in open assistant principal positions, which the district is working to fill this summer.

I have truly enjoyed watching the class of 2018 lead this year. It was awe-inspiring to see student leaders grow as they engage in community-based issues. This year, the student government worked together to create a school-wide demonstration to show their support for the students of Parkland, Florida. Our students have also worked with the county legislature to develop student leadership positions in the community. In the summer edition of BToday, you will read how our middle school students provided insight into potential improvement to our city. Providing our students with additional opportunities to have a voice and lead in our community will be an area of focus this coming year.

It’s exciting to look back at the year and see all that we have accomplished. We couldn’t have done it without the support of the entire BCSD family. I’m proud and humbled to be serving as this incredible district’s leader, where everyone works to educate, empower and challenge our students. I look forward to working with you to make the Binghamton City School District a premier public school district in the 2018-2019 school year.

With Patriot Pride,
Tonia Signature

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