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164 Hawley Street Binghamton, NY 13901    |    P 607.762.8100

The Binghamton City School District has started back up again and we are excited about starting a new year of teaching and learning. We have had a busy few months in preparation for the new year. Here are a few highlights:

• Faculty and staff have been continuing to fine tune their skills by participating in one or more of a variety of professional development offerings. With a continued commitment to ensuring all faculty enter the classrooms with the necessary skills to build relationships, maintain expectations for student behavior, and provide purposeful and engaging instruction, the district provided training in Responsive Classroom, Guided Discipline, and Foundations in Effective Teaching to staff. Some of the other opportunities included Project-based Learning, Google Classroom, New Science Standards, Social Studies Inquiry Units, Restorative Practices, Mental Health First Aid, Reading and Writing Workshop, Mathematics University and Shared Leadership and Decision-making. Our faculty bring with them to these sessions a genuine interest in learning. They are exemplary professionals.
• There have been changes to the Board of Education. David Hawley retired as board president, stepping down after 22 years of dedicated service. David has been a wonderful president and has led the board through many challenges and successes over the years. Thank you, David, for your active leadership and for your unwavering dedication to our students and staff. I would also like to congratulate Brian Whalen who was elected as board president and Evan McNamara who was named vice president. I’d also like to personally welcome Dr. Penelope Harper who is a first time board member. Our board is so enthusiastic and dedicated and I am excited to work with them to take our district to the next level.
• Our Instructional Technology Department is busy preparing the mobile devices due in the hands of all 5th and 6th grade students this fall. This coming year will mark the official first year of implementing a one-to-one mobile device initiative. Critical to ensuring its success will be moving forward with upgrades to the infrastructure of our buildings so that an increase number of devices can access the internet timely and efficiently, which was addressed through the district SMART bond plan adopted in June.
• The Fine Arts Department has been working on putting together a pilot program that incorporates arts experiences into the general education curriculum at the third grade level. The arts focus on the pilot will be theater, music, visual art and puppeteering. We will also be increasing exposure to the arts at the elementary level by offering another class each week to students in grades K through 5, and expanded dance as a course offering at both middle schools.
• Last Spring, the District Attendance Task Force crafted an action plan to address issues related to student absenteeism and provide support for student attendance. The Task Force is working this summer in preparation for kicking off an attendance awareness campaign this fall. Thank you for all you do to ensure our students come to school each day and attend all classes.
• All but three of our school buildings were involved with completing capital improvement projects, approved by the voters in 2014. The projects involve completing updates to building security systems, hardware, plumbing, electrical and mechanical work. More specifically, art room renovations are occurring at the high school and Horace Mann elementary, exterior work is occurring at Theodore Roosevelt, and the replacement of flooring and stair treads at Woodrow Wilson and Benjamin Franklin elementary is being completed. The library at Benjamin Franklin Elementary school is also being completely renovated.
• Summer building work brings challenges for our maintenance and custodial staff who work hard to prepare our buildings and grounds for a new school year. We are fortunate to have such a tremendous and talented group of individuals who will make each hallway and room shine for our students’ arrival.
• A new program entitled “Opportunities for Success” will be offered at Carlisle Apartments. The objective of this program is to provide work based learning opportunities and training in job ready skills while students complete diploma or high school equivalency requirements.
I would also like to welcome several administrators to new positions, some of whom are new to the district. Mr. Daniel Miller, assistant principal at Benjamin Franklin, will be taking the reins as Principal at Woodrow Wilson Elementary school as Barbara McLean has retired after 42 years with the district. We also welcome Mr. Kevin J. Richman to the district. He will be the new principal at Binghamton High School, taking over for Roxie Oberg after her retirement. As a result of my appointment as Superintendent, Mr. Michael Holly, principal at West Middle School, has been appointed as the assistant superintendent of personnel and administration. Mrs. Karry Mullins will remain in central office, taking on a different set of responsibilities as the assistant superintendent for curriculum and budget, and Kristine Battaglino, the principal at Thomas Jefferson, will be the new principal at West Middle School. Sarah Wiggins will become the principal at Thomas Jefferson on Sept. 29 with Joyce Westgate acting as the principal until she begins.  We have also filled the vacancies of two assistant principal positions, with Mr. Gerald Lynch as assistant principal at West Middle School and the Opportunities for Success program, and Mr. Kyle Skinner serving in the role of Assistant Principal at Benjamin Franklin Elementary. The hiring for each of these administrative positions involved stakeholder review and input, which, I believe, results in assuring we bring the best and brightest into leadership positions. This year ahead holds great promise with our team of new and veteran leaders at the helm!
Like all successful organizations, the Binghamton City School District is committed to constant reflection and review of its programs and practices. This past spring, information was gathered through meetings, surveys, focus groups and strategic planning sessions. Thank you to everyone who was able to participate. We then brought this information to a group of representative faculty, staff, students, parents and community members who then drafted a new strategic vision, mission and goals. Each were then revised, finalized and adopted by the Board of Education on July 6th. The newly adopted mission for the Binghamton City School District is to educate, empower and challenge all students to become productive, global citizens through innovative approaches to learning. This mission will be enacted through a vision that embraces our diverse programs and community to become a premier public school district. The board has also adopted a new set of district goals. The goals, along with updates to progress made toward meeting the goals, can be found at: http://www.binghamtonschools.org/MissionPhilosophy.aspx.While the language used in each of these statements is new, what will stay the same is the commitment to excellence held by everyone in the district. We remain focused on providing each and every student an optimal learning environment and embrace the support of our parents and community.
In closing, I want to assure you that we move forward together in the coming school year knowing that our students are our top priority, that our leadership cares about your input and that of the students, and that a mutual pursuit of our new mission and vision will move the district forward in a bold and positive way and help us secure a flagship position among the best of the best in New York’s public school system. Please know that I welcome your ideas and input.
Tonia Thompson
Superintendent of Schools
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