McGraw BOE listens to instructional coaches’ presentation and parent’s concerns

McGraw Central School District. (Photo Source: Chelsea Horak of The Cortland Voice).

The McGraw Central School District Board of Education (BOE) met last Thursday to listen to a presentation by the district’s instructional coaches and hear parent concerns about senior field trips.

The next BOE meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. March 2 in the school library.

Small Senior Trip?

During the public comment portion of the meeting, one father raised concerns about a trend he has noticed regarding Senior Trips. An alumni of McGraw himself, the man recalled visiting Williamsburg, Va. and Busch Gardens for his own Senior trip. The Class of 2023 will be going to HersheyPark in Pennsylvania this year, which led the father to state that the “kids will be spending more time on the bus than at the park.” 

He also noted that other local schools of similar size are able to go on overnight class trips, and posed the question to the board of why that was the case, and what needs to be done in order to have bigger trips for future Seniors. The father ended his remarks stating that “the community is very interested in this.”

Per BOE policy, they listened to the statements made and questions posed but did not respond during the meeting.

Later, during the new business portion of the meeting, the BOE approved a trip to New York City for a smaller group of students. The April 15 trip is being hosted by the music department and is expected to cost students $220 each. It was noted that the drastically reduced cost is due to fundraising efforts which raised about $6,700. Students will depart at 5:30 a.m. and are expected to return by 11 p.m. the same day.

When a mid-meeting executive session was called, members of the public could be heard voicing their disappointment with the process of the meeting as they left, having received no answers to their field trip concerns while hearing about the NYC trip.

Instructional Coaches Present

The BOE also heard from their team of three instructional coaches on the challenges faced and strategies they are implementing this year. According to the team, a majority of academic failures are the result of not doing homework assignments. To combat this, they created a homework club to provide a supportive place for students to complete their work. An average of 10-15 students take advantage of the after-school program. 

Students are also “coming in with extra baggage and less coping skills to deal with those emotions,” according to one teacher, who went on to speak about Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) in schools to help decrease suspensions. TCI strategies represent a shift from negative consequences and punishment to learning from mistakes and poor choices. Focusing on the feelings behind a behavior can help with de-escalation so that suspensions are not as necessary.

One way TCI is being implemented is the Eagles Nest, a room in the elementary school where students can go to cool down and self-regulate rather than being sent to the principal's office. The room provides a safe and calming environment and is supervised by a TA. Students can complete their work in the Nest and return to class when they are able to resume instruction. It was reported that the room has been utilized dozens of times and saved many trips to the office.