February Monti Message

COVID-19 Mitigation and Prevention

We’ve made some recent changes in our COVID-19 mitigation and prevention plan in response to evolving trends in the pandemic.  Our newly adopted test-to-stay plan (TTS) will allow unvaccinated and asymptomatic school-related close contacts to remain in school, provided that they test negative two to three times over a five day period.  These tests will be administered by school nurses at the respective school. 

We are also no longer conducting daily temperature screening of students and staff when they enter our schools.  We encourage parents and caregivers to monitor their child’s health regularly, and still keep a child home and seek testing if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.  The daily temperature screenings detected very few students or staff with high temperatures and required several dedicated staff members in each school to monitor them daily.  These screenings are not required by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH).

Belonging, Equity, Diversity, and Representation

The Monticello Central School District is committed to ensuring equitable practices and outcomes for all of its students, in learning environments that make all feel that they are included and belong. Some examples of how we are currently working towards fulfilling these commitments include our Junior Panthers Book Club and our My Brother’s Keeper mentorship program, and are outlined below in this edition of the Monti Message

To further support this goal, the Board of Education is presently drafting a policy (and supporting documents) on belonging, equity, diversity, and representation.  This policy will guide administration, faculty, and staff in their work and provide them with guidance on factors to be included in their decision making.

The document under present consideration is based on the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) recommended policy for diversity, equity, and inclusion.  It also aligns with the New York State Education Department’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiative that calls “for all schools in New York State to develop policies that advance diversity, equity and inclusion as a priority in their schools.”

III. Budget Development

Our administrators are presenting their proposed budgets for 2022–23 to the Board of Education.  In reviewing their needs for next year, most of the new additions to the budget result from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The “learning loss” experienced by students—relative to academic standards—continues to persist and many of our students will still require interventions and supports into next year.  The expansion of 1:1 computer devices—i.e., laptops or tablets—has caused increases in the maintenance and replacement cycles in these devices.  More wear and tear on more devices require us to accelerate our maintenance schedules—and thus increase the technology budget.

The Board of Education and MCSD administrators will continue to develop and refine budget proposals at every meeting between now and early April.  A complete budget calendar and other information can be found on our budget website.  The Board will, ultimately, adopt a budget for the public’s approval at the April 12 Board of Education meeting.  District-resident voters will vote on the budget on May 17, 2022.

IV.  Building and Expanding An Inclusive Culture 

Even before our Board officially solidified its goal in 2019 to “foster an inclusive culture that sparks community pride, emphasizes kindness and respect and ensures that all students, staff and visitors are valued and supported,” the Monticello CSD has long endeavored to empower each and every one of our students to succeed. 

One such endeavor has been the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) program, which the district launched in 2017 and then expanded to include the greater Monticello community in 2019.   Through the years, the MBK program has made great strides in improving outcomes for some of our most vulnerable students. 

two male students are seated at a desk
MBK Fellows from Monticello High School mentor fifth-grade students from KLR

While the advent of the pandemic limited MBK activities and programs over the past two years, we are excited to announce that we have recently resumed the in-person peer mentorship program, and are diligently working to expand our in-person offerings and recruit interested students. 

two staff members are holding up a jar that says "positive affirmations"
Director of Equity, Tiffany Hall, and Executive Director of Summer, Special and After-School Programs, Dana Taylor have been recruiting students, passing out positive affirmations and cookies during lunch.

Another new initiative this year that helps move us towards our diversity and inclusion goals is the launch of the Junior Panthers Book Club — an after-school club of third-graders who meet to read and discuss culturally-responsive literature, while improving their literacy skills. The book club kicked off earlier this month with Henry’s Freedom Box — a picture book that tells the true story of Henry Brown, an enslaved Black man who shipped himself to freedom in 1849. 

a group of students is standing with Ms. Daniel
The members of the Junior Panther Book Club with Ms. Daniel

As mentioned earlier in the newsletter, our Board of Education is working with our Equity Workgroup to bolster our diversity, equity and inclusion practices by drafting a formal policy that outlines these important goals. We’re excited to continue to build a district where all of our students receive the tools they need to grow and thrive.