ELMSFORD, N.Y. -- The Elmsford Union free School District heads to its summer break next week after an eventful 2013-14 school year that included budget controls and a focus on professional development and academic excellence under first year Schools Superintendent Joseph Ricca.
Ricca, who took over in August 2013, opened new lines of communication with the village government and residents with community outreach and regular reports to the village Board of Trustees.
"The academic year was filled with activities centering on increasing academic achievement, supporting professional development and strengthening our community outreach opportunities," Ricca said. "We are blessed to have an amazing working relationship with the mayor, village trustees, law enforcement and the village leadership. These critical partnerships have helped to support both the students and the entire village community through shared services and supportive co-working and organizational opportunities."
Despite state-mandated budget restraints, the Board of Education trimmed and streamlined a $32.1 million budget which was passed by residents and maintained 100 percent of the academic programs. The property tax levy increase of 0.98 percent was the lowest increase in several years for the district and well below the state-mandated tax cap.
The district also revised curricular expectations to meet and exceed the requirements of the Common Core Learning Standards beginning in August 2013 with the district and school-based strategic planning committees identifying annual goals and objectives focused on improving student learning outcomes.
"The (district) recommitted to revising the district's Mission, Vision and Values again with a keen eye toward student scholastic achievement," Ricca said.
A new website with language translation and user friendly interface (www.eufsd.org) was launched and access to the district's curriculum and program of study is now readily available to the educational community.
Ricca outlined some of the district's goals and accomplishments through the school year::
• Continued to support professional development through professional learning committees with both horizontal and vertical articulation throughout the district.
• Continued to support the district's Dual Language Program as the state grant is set to expire.
• Identified efficiencies throughout the district to save tax dollars and improve operations (including administrative re-alignment).
• Secured grants and in-kind donations to enrich our students' programming (including the Regeneron/KaBOOM! partnership which will provide for a playground at Dixson Primary).
• Increased community outreach through committee work and many opportunities to meet with district faculty, principals and the superintendent.
• Improved school safety and security through strategic partnerships and facilities planning.
• Increased character education opportunities including anti-bullying initiatives (the district was recognized as supporting Promising Practices by the Character Education Partnership in Washington, D.C.).
• Instituted a teacher recognition pilot program (EUFSD Teacher of the Year).
• Move to gmail to save money related to email servers and management.
• Increased the use of technological applications within the classroom to support student learning.
Ricca said he gained personally and professionally from regular community interactions and feedback sessions, such as "Coffee and Conversation with the Superintendent."
"It is during these interactions that I am able to learn more about the desires of our educational community and identify avenues by which we can make our district even stronger," Ricca said. "We plan to continue to build upon our strong community connection moving ahead."