The Marathon Central School District Board of Education (BOE) met last month to hear presentations and bid farewell to interim superintendent William Locke.
The Marathon BOE will be at 7 p.m. later today at the school library. The meeting is open to the public.
The BOE heard from transportation director Andy Euson about the recent challenges and improvements he has seen in his department. The biggest issues at hand are a staffing shortage and more rigorous New York State road tests. The stricter testing is now a 3-part test with an obstacle course, and requires mechanical knowledge of the engine, brakes, and drive train. The district has been able to account for the new tests with additional training, but is still in need of candidates to fill substitute driver positions.
Euson used his chance to address the board and the public stress the need for applicants for the substitute driver positions, emphasizing that Marathon is one of the only districts in the area to offer paid training.
Euson noted that the district is making strides in student safety with improved cameras both inside and outside the bus. The new outer cameras will allow drivers to capture the license plates of drivers who illegally pass buses that are loading and unloading students. Passing traffic is the leading danger to students who use bus transportation, according to Euson’s presentation, and additional training for both students and drivers has also been implemented.
Camp Oswegatchie Trip
Teacher and environmental science club advisor Crystal Aukema proposed a trip to Camp Oswegatchie in late March. The trip typically takes place over a weekend or school break, but Aukema requested permission from the board to have the trip during school days in order to secure grant funding for the activity, which stipulates that it must take place during school time. It is worth noting that Aukema has been successful in securing over $10k in grants for various projects since September.
Students will have the opportunity to learn about ecology and forestry on the trip while they take part in a ropes course and a nocturnal hike. Aukema also noted that while Marathon is famous for its maple production, the Oswegatchie area has their own unique method involving buried lines to tap the trees, which the students will also observe.
The BOE voted to approve the trip in the new business portion of the meeting.
Director of Instruction Kathleen Hoyt presented to the board regarding the 2022 Spring Assessment, which looked at students’ testing scores compared with the rest of the state. Hoyt explained that Marathon exceeds state averages in several areas such as Living Environment, Geometry, and Global History and is increasing proficiency and mastery levels in English Language Arts (ELA). The district is still behind in Algebra II and Chemistry, but the low number of students taking those exams (17 and 9, respectively) means that the percentages are greatly affected by only a few students. Hoyt also explained that the state is shifting testing from 4th and 8th, to 5th-and-8th grades.
Social Emotional Learning
Interim Superintendent William Locke clarified that Social Emotional Learning (SEL) has always remained part of the curriculum in the district and that only “Second Step SEL” has been on pause. The pause came after parents raised concerns over the specifics of the curriculum for Second Step at previous BOE meetings early in the 2022-2023 school year. SEL is integral to developing a student’s social skills, and is learned through things like teamwork in Gym class and respectful use of resources in the library.
New superintendent to replace Locke
Andy Buchsbaum recently took over as Marathon’s Superintendent, replacing Locke. BOE president Justin Libbey thanked Locke profusely for his dedicated service to the district in their time of need, and spoke admiringly of the experience and insight Locke shared during his time at Marathon. Locke in turn expressed his appreciation and affection for the district which he has come to know, and is in no rush to leave while Buchsbaum settles in.