South Orangetown Central School District

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Sent via ParentSquare on October 6, 2023

Dear South Orangetown Students, Families and Staff,

Welcome to the first issue of SOCSD Connect! This monthly communication will provide you with insight into our journey to become a top-performing public school district

As you may or may not be aware, there has been debate over the merits of the Teachers College (TC) Reading and Writing program, which SOCSD has used for about a decade. Each year, TC consultants would work with our teachers to implement this program. This summer, the District made the decision to break this long standing relationship and undertake a comprehensive assessment of how we teach reading.

Here’s what we’ll be doing:

  • Build greater capacity within the district and rely on our own faculty literacy experts to lead curriculum review and professional development;
  • Communicating with our community how our reading program is aligned with New York State Standards;
  • Identifying and sharing best practices for how we teach literacy to all students, including interventions for students who struggle;
  • Identifying and hiring a specialist in approaches to teaching reading to all students which are grounded in scientifically-based research; and,
  • Reviewing research-based programs for possible adoption for the 2024-2025 school year.

We look forward to taking on this important work and will share progress throughout the year.

Our District’s strategic, financial, capital and safety plans are also under review this year, as part of our continuous cycle of improvement. During the first phase of my entry plan, I met with various stakeholders in our community to hear their perspectives regarding the successes of our District and the challenges that lie ahead. This winter, all students, staff, parents/guardians and community members will have the opportunity to provide detailed feedback through our comprehensive School Community Survey. We look forward to a robust response that will help to inform our District’s strategic planning and goal-setting efforts.

Our Facilities Planning Committee continues to meet regularly to ensure timely progress of our $49.9M Capital Improvements Project, which will break ground next summer. Plans for Phase II (Tappan Zee High School) were submitted to the New York State Education Department last month and the bidding process for approved Phase I construction at William O. Schaefer Elementary School will occur this fall. The committee is also developing a schedule for minor capital work for the summers of 2024, 2025 and beyond. All WOS students celebrated the opening of their new playground yesterday and the TZHS main gym will be ready for students on Tuesday. Join us on October 11 to see our athletes play on the new floor: the TZ Girls Varsity Volleyball game starts at 4:30PM, followed by JV at 6:00PM.

Great teaching and learning is underway in our classrooms. Our school leaders will present program overviews, goals and highlights at the October 19 (SOMS and TZHS) and November 2 (WOS and CLE) Board of Education meetings. There are also many opportunities for families to learn about District resources, including our October 23 Parent University event and hands-on curriculum nights, such as K-5 Family Science Night on October 17 and a K-12 Reading Curriculum Night on November 20. Events are posted on our District Google Calendar.

Finally, participation in extracurriculars helps students explore their interests and feel connected to their school community. SOCSD prides itself on offering an array of exciting and engaging opportunities before, during, and after school to meet the unique needs of every student. An eclectic mix of challenging programs, courses and events that give students choice fosters the skills and character traits to be compassionate, innovative and creative members of our school community. Please encourage your children to get involved. If they need help finding a good fit or getting started, reach out to your child’s school counselor.

Look forward to seeing you at our upcoming events!

Brian Culot, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools