Editor, Eagle Star-Review
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Sarah Hall can be reached at email@example.com.
As controversies over Common Core and mandated standardized tests become more and more prevalent, many parents are choosing a new option in educating their children: homeschooling. Once the sole province of the very religious, homeschooling is becoming more popular every day, with a growth rate of 7 to 15 percent per year. Nationwide, about 2 million children learn at home instead of in a brick-and-mortar school, up from about 1 million in 2003. According to the U.S. Department of Education, about 88 percent of U.S. homeschool parents express concern about the school environment, citing drugs, negative peer pressure and general safety.
Parents of children attending the two parochial schools in the North Syracuse Central School District descended on the board of education Monday night to implore them to reconsider a decision they say could have fatal consequences. On Feb. 24, at its regular meeting, the NSCSD BOE voted to cut the full-time registered nurse position at St. Rose of Lima School in North Syracuse as well as the full-time registered nurse position at St. Margaret's School in Mattydale. The board then voted to create one full-time position and one part-time position to be shared between the two schools. The reduction would leave each school without a nurse for about two hours a day. The decision came about a month after St. Rose’s full-time nurse resigned from her position. The district has been paying a substitute. They opted to cut the position instead of hiring a new full-time nurse for St. Rose, which has many parents worried about their children’s health and safety.
Voters last week rejected a $5.6 million referendum that would have reconstruction Cicero Fire Department Station No. 1 on Route 11. A total of 264 people in the Cicero Fire District turned out to vote on the proposal, with 180 voting against and 84 voting in favor. The project would have made significant repairs to Station No. 1, addressing significant structural issues as well as asbestos on the second floor and numerous safety concerns for the volunteer firefighters in the department. The reconstruction would have renovated the community hall, repaved the parking lot, expanded the apparatus bays and moved them behind the station hall and parking lot so that fire apparatus wouldn’t have to pull out directly onto Route 11. The proposal would have cost taxpayers within the fire district, which covers about a one-mile radius from Station 1, about $75 per $100,000 of assessed value.
In a very preliminary presentation, Liverpool Central School District Mark Potter gave the board of education some expectation of what the 2014-15 budget will look like. According to Potter’s presentation, the total budget for next year is $138,641,389, up 2.11 percent from last year. With revenues down about $359,795 and the expected use of $2,500,000 in money from the district’s fund balance, Potter anticipates a tax increase of 2.3089 percent for next year. But Potter stressed that these numbers are not final. He’s left some gaps as the district waits to hear the final numbers from the state budget, due April 1, as well as some of its own health insurance costs, which remain unknown.
Taxpayers in North Syracuse are looking at a 2.25 percent increase for the 2014-15 school year, according to the initial budget presented to the North Syracuse Central School District Board of Education Monday, Feb. 24. According to the presentation, given by Assistant Superintendent for Management Donald Keegan, the district is facing a 3.6 percent decrease in building aid from New York state. That coupled with increased costs in salaries, benefits, equipment and BOCES shared services agreements have resulted in the need to increase the tax levy by $1,763,319, while cutting programs by $1,716,879. The total budget proposed for 2014-15 is $145,479,106, a 1.4 percent budget-to-budget increase from last year.
The New York State Board of Regents has approved a plan to delay the full implementation of the state’s Common Core graduation requirements until the Class of 2022 — current fourth-graders — instead of the Class of 2017 — current ninth-graders — as had been originally intended. The shift means that those students currently in fourth grade across the state will have to take and pass five Common Core-aligned exams in order to graduate. Students now in ninth grade will have to take five Common Core exams, but they won’t have to meet what the state calls "college- and career-ready standards" in order to graduate; they’ll just have to pass the tests at a level similar to getting a 65 on current Regents exams.
Since childhood, Joey Esce has aspired to a career as a professional entertainer. This weekend, he’s taking the first steps toward making that happen. The 17-year-old Liverpool High School junior will be holding a release party for his debut EP, “Songs from the Heart,” from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, at Sharkey’s Sports Bar and Restaurant, 7240 Oswego Road in Liverpool. There he’ll perform songs from the CD, along with friend Justin Bertolero, who will provide bass accompaniment. Admission is free.
Research has proven that companion animals can relieve stress, anxiety and loneliness, particularly among people in need of additional emotional support, like those in a hospital setting. That’s why St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center has introduced a pet therapy program, bringing in Pet Partners of Syracuse to visit patients, family members and staff to help alleviate some of the stresses of hospital life.
Running a 10-mile race is a tremendous challenge. But if you’ve got the right motivation, those 10 miles can feel like nothing at all. That’s the idea behind Team Believe, a grassroots organization that brings together local runners to help the Central New York community. The group, which got its start in 2009, asks participants to help raise money for local children’s charities while training for the Dunn Tire Mountain Goat Run in Syracuse in May.
When Stacy Haley was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, she felt like her world was “shattered.” “I had just lost my grandmother to breast cancer on Thanksgiving day in 2012,” Haley said. “Being told I had cancer was one of the hardest things I've ever had to deal with or explain to my children. It was surreal. I kept feeling like it was a bad dream and I would wake up from it soon.”