Strategic Planning & Partnerships Commission Proceedings by Authority
State of New York,
City of Jamestown ss.:
Police Training Room
The regular meeting of the Strategic Planning & Partnerships Commission of the City of Jamestown, New York was held on Wednesday November 28, 2018 at 8:30 A.M in the Mayor’s Conference Room, City Hall.
Members Present: Co-Chairman Greg Rabb, Co-Chairwoman Kathleen Eads, Marie Carrubba, Justin Hanft, Michael Haines
Others Present: Becky Robbins
Mr. Rabb: We obviously do not have a quorum, but with the weather, I’m surprised we have participants. We’re going to turn it right over to you Bret.
JPS SUCCESS ACADEMY PRESENTATION
Dr. Apthorpe: So, I was asked to come here today to speak about Rogers Elementary, now called the Success Academy. In order to do that, I need to share with you where Rogers, the Success Academy, fits as part of a larger plan to turning our school system around and hopefully improving our community. What I wanted to share with you is a very condensed version of – after probably eight months of being here, I did a report back to the community at the Jackson Center about the things that I’ve learned from talking to businesses and schools and teachers and families and shared with them the state of where Jamestown is, what are challenges are and most importantly, what are the exciting opportunities unique to Jamestown. And I invited the community to join the school district on a major three-part initiative involving community partners. It’s just been awesome. In order for me to talk about Rogers, you need to understand where Rogers, the Success Academy, fits as part of the bigger picture. I can tell you this upfront though, because I know community rumors, Rogers is not for discipline problems. We have places for that. Rogers is not for kids with psychiatric problems, we have places for that. It’s not for vocational training, we have places for that. What Jamestown has, though, is 1700 children not coming to school. And so, Rogers is part of a bigger plan to turn this around. I put together some power point slides to share with you. So, first talking about what our school looks like today. And you see the 15-year trends and the orange color is the one that I really want to draw your attention to; Pre-K. So, in 2017 we had 409 Pre-K kids. Today, 2018, we have 445 and we have over 200 on a waiting list. The reason for me sharing that with you is it’s true that our K-12 enrollment is declining, but our schools are not K-12 anymore. They’re Pre-K-12. So, our bodies of Pre-K – 12 serves the same number of bodies. In fact, we don’t have room for 200 Pre-K kids.
This screen, summer schools in 2017. I shared with the community and our staff, four school districts that are considered similar to Jamestown and I asked everyone to look at the demographics of each of these communities. And I highlighted in yellow, the statistics that stand out. So, a typical educator would look at these statistics and I asked them; I asked all teachers to do this. Rank which school performs the highest and which school performs the lowest in terms of student achievement in reading and math. Quite clearly, Middletown School District has the toughest demographic. And yet, in the graph below when we compare performance, we see that Middletown Schools outperforms, even though it has tougher demographics, outperforms the other schools. And the reason I share that with people is, I’m from Mayville and I taught at Southwestern and coached at Southwestern for a lot of years. And the only reason I left is because my wife is from Pittsford, New York and so I moved to Monroe County for 20 years and raised a family and returned back to the area. My paradigm has changed dramatically because of my professional journeys and I know some of you can probably relate to that. And so, I share this with our community because I think that many of us are prisoner of our paradigms. Things are the way they are because of the kids we have, because of poverty, because of changing demographics, when in fact, much of that is really a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Ms. Carrubba: That’s very interesting because my last son graduated in 2013 from Jamestown and even the sizes of the graduating class, that you speak to, losing a lot of kids, but I was just astounded when I heard. His class was in the 340-range graduating and people who I know who are in my age, who are in their sixties, there were 600 kids in the graduating class. I wish Daniel was here because in terms of trends at community colleges as well because we’re a declining population here. Enrollments are down everywhere at a lot of community colleges, not just Jamestown and I think you’re seeing it with some colleges in Ohio, probably the last five, seven years, had to close because the enrollment was so low. There are some colleges in the south that I mean, alumni are donating a lot of money just to keep the colleges open, but how long that will continue. It’s interesting to see this.
Dr. Apthorpe: Yes, it’s a changing landscape and unfortunately, the funding for Pre-K is on an annual basis, so it’s hard. You can’t predict so it’s hard to create programming. We have, because this money comes from the state, we have over $20 million in grants for that, but that’s not driven by local taxes, it’s driven by state grants. So, it’s hard to make a long-term commitment. Like I said, we have 200 kids on the waiting list, so it’s hard to make long-term commitments without having that sort of predictability. Knowing that, in Jamestown for example, I did this with the board the other day to help them understand. If we were to raise the property tax levy 1%, it would only generate $140,000.00. And yet, I compared that to two suburban schools in Rochester and Buffalo. They raise it 1%, it’s $1.5 million that they generate. And the flip side of that is true for aid. If we lose 1% in aid, we lose over $1 million and those school districts only lose $100,000.00. and that’s part of that inequity, that whole state funding inequity, piece. If we were to have, let’s say we had a $1 million reduction in aid, we couldn’t go to the community for an 8% tax increase to offset that, there’s no way they would go for that. Especially when you get a super majority. But a suburban school, they only need 1% to do that.
Ms. Carrubba: Can I just ask you, on that 200 on the waiting list, is there any way that this can pair with – Chautauqua Opportunities, I believe, is under enrolled in Head Start and early Head Start. Not for anything, but if these individuals really need these services, is there any way to let those individuals know that they could – they may not be comparable programs, but they’re still getting something for kids that are probably definitely in need of services, why they couldn’t or wouldn’t. If you’re never going to get to that 200th person on that list, even if you take the last 20 that – or however you could work it – it just seems a shame if that program is under-enrolled, to not have all these kids on a waiting list that could be getting service.
Dr. Apthorpe: I agree. Tina Sandstrom is our Director of Schools; that’s in her area. She’s very knowledgeable.
Ms. Carrubba: I know Tina. I might give her a call. It just seems because Early Head Start and Head Start have been around for quite some time and with individuals that are truly in need of preventive services, they’ve shown that getting them at the front end makes much more sense than waiting till the back end when they’re really struggling. If you can get them so that at least when they’re entering kindergarten, they’re close to the same level as the piers who have been through the Pre-K program and get all the other services.
Dr. Apthorpe: Yes, we want those kids in those places. A couple changes in our demographic over 15 years that I know will not be surprising to you. One is the increase in poverty. 15 years ago, 45% of our kids lived in poverty. Today, 75% of the kids live in poverty. There’s a difference between being blue collar poor and poverty. Blue collar poor, you have people going to work, collecting some sort of paycheck. When you’re talking poverty, these are the people who are on social welfare programs, they typically are in cycle poverty, very different.
The page with the 15-year trends; the break in ethnicity. We are seeing a dramatic increase in our Hispanic population. That number today in 2018, is actually closer to 30% Hispanic. Approximately 99% are from Puerto Rico and I remind my staff, because the Puerto Rican community reminds me of this all the time, that they are American citizens. They are not immigrants and they are not illegal aliens and they have the same constitutional right to a public education and all that goes with that. And I remind people of that because I myself am guilty because I, being from Mayville, and I went to Texas to the National Hispanic School Board Conference to try to understand. Because we need to get this community more involved with our schools and I’m really trying to understand how to do that. And when I met with our Puerto Rican leaders, they were like, why did you do that. You’re in Texas for Hispanics, that’s for Mexicans. I’m guilty, right? I’m trying. Fortunately, they laughed it off, but I confess, I’m just trying to do better by that. Poverty is the big thing. Here on the bottom one, we see 71%, 2018 it’s 75%. So, three out of our four kids live in poverty. I remind everybody, I probably shared this with you a few minutes ago, the distinction between blue collar poor and kids in poverty. They are two different environments. Kids in blue collar poor they grow up in the belly of work, going to work every day. Kids in poverty, typically, they are part of that cycle of poverty. I hear kids all the time talking about the card they have to live on when they grow up. And that’s their Benefits card.
Let’s talk some more about our schools and where they are. A very startling, sad statistic is from grades 3-8, half of our kids have the lowest possible proficiency in reading, writing and math. The lowest possible proficiency. That’s half the students. The high school has a 25% dropout rate and we have over 1700 kids who aren’t coming to school. Those are three very alarming statistics. And there is, and I know I’m preaching to the choir, forgive me. But there is a strong correlation between the health of the community and the health of a school system in many, many ways. So, what’s happening here? And here’s what I share from my finding; those three bullets. One is the effect of trauma our average child experiences upon our youth, the effects of poverty on literacy and the fact that we have a community of kids who are just disconnected from our schools. We have a 0% graduation rate for our English Language Learner kids. So, for our Puerto Rico students who identify as English Language Learners, 0% of them graduate. That’s a very alarming statistic.
So, let’s talk about ACES in Poverty. ACES is Adverse Childhood Experiences. In education there’s an expression now that Maslow trumps Bloom, and Maslow, you might remember from high school and college, was the whole notion that people have to naturally feel safe. They need to feel safe physically, mentally, they can’t be hungry, they can’t be thirsty. If you want someone to learn; adult, child, all of those environmental factors and cognitive factors have to be okay. What we’re learning in education particularly, the research over the past decade is, there’s always the poverty, the impact of adverse childhood experiences on children. Let me give you an example of this, and sadly this happens a lot; at Persell Middle School, I was over there, middle of the day, and I was in the office, as I usually do, and there was a 6th grade girl, a multi-racial girl, had a stomachache and stomachaches in elementary and middle school are common. The principal took her down to the nurse and came back and shared that that little girl, that morning – she lives in a drug house, mom’s got some sort of boyfriend that’s a drug dealer and she gets herself up for school, because we’re a walking school district, gets herself up for school, comes out the door, finds her dog with his throat slit on the sidewalk, right outside her door. And it was revenge for a drug deal gone bad and so in that household, that family, that dog, was really important to that child. And that child ran to school. Didn’t go back in the house. Ran into school because school is safe. This little girl, that would be considered an adverse childhood experience, that little girl isn’t a troublemaker. She’s not a defiant, rebel-rousing, rule-breaking, she’s a great kid. That little kid’s going to go to math class and they’re going to try and teach fractions. She’s not thinking about fractions. Her body is trying to deal with the horrific trauma that she experienced as a child in development. At that stage of childhood, she’s trying to figure that out. But what happens in education is you remember; the learning train goes on. Today it’s fractions, tomorrow it’s going to be decimals. And left alone, that little girl’s not going to be thinking about decimals. She’s not causing trouble. She comes to class, she’s on time, a good kid. That is called an Adverse Childhood Experience. So, this green chart that I have here, Living in Poverty with ACES.
Using the National Institute of Health statistics and applying it to our demographics, we estimate that we have 3600 kids who have at least one adverse childhood experience. You see there in the following columns, the multipliers for their likelihood of failure, attendance, behavior, etc. when you look down at the bottom, we estimate that we have over 500 kids who have over three adverse childhood experiences. And when you get to three, you’re at the level of PTSD for war vets. PTSD; the only difference is PTSD in an adult is very different than in a child. The child has so many moving parts on so many things. Other adverse childhood experiences would be things like seeing somebody die, being sworn at, being hit, seeing your mom being hit or abused, seeing your pets being abused. I joke with the police chief that I’m going to end up in the police blotter because I live downtown and I go down to the square and shop and I’m in there and I hear these moms swearing at their kids and I push myself in there kind of abruptly; and I’m going to get it, I know it, but I can’t help it. How do you talk to your kid like that? And that’s in public and you can’t even imagine what happens in the home. So, we need to, as a community, come to terms with this reality of kids that we have. So, that’s one thing going on.
The second thing going on, on the second page, is talking about the impact of summer slide and literacy. The research is really strong on, when all of us were in school and we were learning to read, come June and you left for summer and we all regressed, we all slipped back in our reading and writing and math because we weren’t into it. We came back in September, remember the teacher does refreshers and then off we go. The research is really strong that middle-class, upper-class kids are the ones that catch right up in September. What happens with kids in poverty is, they don’t catch up. They don’t catch up. What happens is, from kindergarten, every year it becomes cumulative. What we do in schools, and Jamestown does this very well; if you walk into our schools, they are a loving, safe, clean, healthy, happy places. They are in such contrast to inner-city schools with similar demographics; completely different. However, we love the kids to middle school, but the kids in poverty, 75% of our kids, are going into fifth grade, reading at a second-grade level. So, now when you get into middle school – you remember the middle school years, everybody hated them, very self-conscious and the academics are starting to get real. So then, these kids get socially promoted through middle school and there’s reasons for that. They’re socially promoted, but their reading doesn’t get much better. Then you get to the high school, 25% of them drop out and 0% of the ELL kids graduate because academics are the real deal.
The third thing, which I don’t have on here, is the disconnection from school. That whole 1700 kids not coming to school and it’s largely because when 75% of your kids are in poverty, by the time they get into high school and even in middle school, they’re self-directed. They’re going to hang with their tribe. Because there’s really, with exceptions, there are exceptions, but in most cases, there’s no parent in control of what that child is doing. So, the kid tends to hang with their tribe and if their tribe is dropouts, that’s where they go. How you counter that is, how is your school connecting with the kid? So that the kid wants to come to school, feels a part of the school.
And even if you walk around Jamestown and you think, what did I say 30% of our kids are Puerto Rican? I have no idea what the community demographic is, is it 25% of our community, 20% of our community are Spanish speaking? I ask my principals, where are the Spanish speaking signs. So, when I first started, we need to put up welcome to our school in Spanish. And when I met with the Puerto Rican leaders, what was really interesting about that was, I had on that group that came was about three or four young professionals who had graduated from Jamestown and they were in their late 20s and they were talking about how foreign they felt, just like a visitor, to a school. Again, it goes back to this, and we hear it all the time, they’re in America, they need to learn the language. And they’ll say, well we’re American citizens. Regardless, the reality is that kids aren’t being or feeling connected. So, how do we take this on? Several ways. One is, on the bottom of page 5; unlike most cities that aren’t doing well in New York, and some of you are in this room who are responsible for this, Jamestown has an incredible amount of resources and opportunities locally. The benevolence in this community, the learning opportunities in this community. I went around to all these places when I first started. I’ve been thinking about writing an op-ed for the Jamestown Post Journal entitled, the Jamestown I thought I knew versus the Jamestown I know today. I’ve always been a lifetime subscriber to the Post Journal and my poor kids have had to endure streaming WJTN since they were children.
I went to visit Cummins. They make 550 engines a day. They have 100 vacancies, on average, they can’t fill. Starting pay between $31,000.00 and $37,000.00, full benefits. They’ll give a kid $7,000.00 a year – give – for tuition. They didn’t have that in Mayville when I was growing up. We would’ve been all over that. Yet, they can’t keep workers and they can’t get people to apply. I’ve got 1700 kids not coming to school. I’ve got 25% of kids dropping out. I went down, when I first met Betsy Wright down at UPMC, she said the same thing to me. 100 jobs on average they can’t fill in the health care industry. Good jobs. These aren’t minimum wage, McDonald’s jobs. These are career wages. And again, I’m thinking why do we have 25% – these are great opportunities. I went to Blackstone and they were all saying the same thing. They have all these jobs that they can’t fill. And then it really dawned on me that, because Cummins has been a great partner to our school district since I started, but if Cummins gets to a certain point that they can’t provide workers, what are they going to do? They’re going to go where there’s workers. Because they have to survive. And yet, that shouldn’t be a problem here because we’ve got lots of bodies.
So, then I went to the Manufacturing Institute, the new Manufacturing Institute, and was blown away. Down by JCC, I went through that facility. Unbelievable opportunities for kids and they can’t get kids. Last year, when I first started in the fall, they have the opportunity – businesses would pay kids, JCC tuition, pay for the manufacturing institute, pay them to do it and they couldn’t get any applicants from the Jamestown Schools. Again, the Mayville guy in me, of course I had parents, right? Blue collar parents? They would have been like, you’re definitely doing that. Imagine that, I had to get involved, to get with the principals to shake the tree to try and find a body in the school district with almost 5000 students to get paid to go to college for free and then guarantee a job afterwards. It’s crazy. It’s this dichotomy of – but I think therein lies our opportunities.
Our big plans include, going to page 7; just last year, New York State Board of Regents changed its requirements for a diploma. It used to be you had to pass five Regents exams to get a New York State Regents Diploma. English, Science, Social Studies and Math. But then they came up with this 4 + 1. This is really important for the Jamestown community to understand what 4 + 1 is. The one in the four is an option. And the option being, you can take three courses in a CTE career, technical ed area, or take the Global Regents or the US History Regents. So, the Global History Regents Exam is by far the most difficult one in the state for students to pass. I taught Global for twelve years so I’m a little partial to it, but admittedly, I looked at the Regents exams they gave last year and, on the essays, there was a group of eight names for the kids to pick from and I didn’t know three of them. And not to sound, arrogant, but I have a doctorate from the University of Rochester and read the paper every day, read a lot. I’m a nonfiction reader, so how can the nonfiction reader not know, for tenth graders, three names on the list. That’s because the test has become very politically aligned with different areas of the state. But, if a kid can’t pass that, we’re saying that that kid can’t get a diploma and that kid, therefore, is not college and career ready. And is that really the reality of our world today? Is that really the reality of our world? So, the state is saying now kids can take – what is a CTE course? Career Technical Ed sequence. It’s literally any career area. It’s literally hundreds of different – it could be anything from early childhood development, sports physiology, accounting, computer programming. And these are a set of three courses that are from the field; they’re not theoretical. The notion is if the kid takes the three courses, that they’re able to move on in that career area.
So, this is the opportunity where we can start to look at engaging our students, so if we align our programming. Remember when you were in school, there were electives like poetry and paleontology and photography and there was a lot of different things? In this paradigm, we could have, let’s say we had one about advanced manufacturing. So, you have to take three courses in advanced manufacturing and one of those courses, one of those three courses, is learning how to program a 3-D printer and to manufacture a part and then go to metal lathe and make the same part. That’s one of the three courses. You can have kids who are advanced placement kids, kids who are going into engineering, only take that one course as an elective. But a student not interested in going into engineering, but more interested in working at Blackstone or Cummins and getting a job right out of school would also take that, but it would be one of three. What we’ve charged the high school and the secondary schools to look at is what is the local job market require here. We know it’s advanced manufacturing, we know it’s healthcare, we know it’s hospitality and tourism and agriculture. In Chautauqua County, that’s where the big jobs are. So, laying those four job areas over these hundreds of career courses that you can take, they’re selecting programming that aligns with local labor needs. That’s one part of our plan. And a part of that is the Success Academy, grades 5-12, and I have pictures of Rogers there on page 7. Rogers, interestingly enough, is the newest building in the Jamestown Schools. And it’s in great shape and it’s going to be a multi-purpose facility. I met with the community – I sent a postcard out to the community in Allen Park and we had a nice meeting over there a couple of weeks ago, in the building at Rogers, talking about what that is and how we want Rogers to be a community school. We want to be a jewel of Allen Park. we want them to be involved in the landscaping and the playground and we really want it to be a real positive part of that community. This building is going to be very multi-purpose. So, the CTE program. Remember all those 200 and some kids who are the waiting list? Well, there are child career technical ed programs that deal with child development and health care. So, we could have some of our Pre-K kids be housed over there because they’re already set up for little kids, because it was a former elementary school, so it’s kind of cool because Rogers has a little bit of the 70s architecture to it, very open. School’s really open kind of thing which really lends itself to it. We could have pre-k kids in one room and adjacent, have a CTE program for early childhood healthcare. So, they’re practitioners as well as learners. Also, STEAM, that’s science, technology, engineering, advanced manufacturing. It has big spaces that allows us to do that.
So, the 1700 kids who aren’t coming to school. If we have these CTE programs over there, kids from the high school will be shuttled there because they’ve got block periods, they’re long periods, they’re 90 minutes. But there will be some who will be over there longer. So, let’s go back to that little girl, the little girl I told you about and these 500 and some kids with ACES. Schools are not equipped to deal with the psychiatric needs of kids. They’re not. It’s one thing to meet with your counselor once a week versus the trauma that we’re talking about with kids. But, the great thing about the science with children with ACES is, we know how to, clinically, the right people know how to treat these kids and help them become resilient, become successful and flip it. But schools don’t have the money for that. What we did was, we went out and shared this notion with, you name it; in the mental health community, the pediatric community, the social service community and said over at the success academy, we would love to have you have space here so that when we engage children, like this little girl, and we do a profile of this little girl, what are the services that this child, specifically, needs to deal with this traumatic issue. Help her and provide her the academic so that once she’s through what she needs to get through and has the tools of resiliency, she can return to the classroom. And not be behind. And not fail. We have, literally, over 30 different providers, which is awesome.
At the secondary level, at the high school level, it will be a year-round academy. Kids will be going year-round because the whole notion being if we re-engage these kids, that we can have them set up with job training, job coaching. Once you get a kid back into school, you want to keep them, especially kids in poverty. You don’t want to send them home for the summer. So, if you re-engage the kid and you say we’ll get you the job, we’ll get you the education, we’ll get you the diploma. And again, these aren’t kids that are trouble makers. We’ve got places for that. That’s what the Success Academy is going to be geared for.
The last big thing, and thank you for enduring, the last big thing, and it’s a big thing; back to this literacy piece, kids not being able to read. This year we’ve secured a grant for the next few years where we’re going to, for grades K-4, we’re going to send a bus to pick up every elementary kid, grades K-4, over the summer who is below level and we’re going to bring them to their elementary schools, we’re going to feed them breakfast through a grant from the federal government feeds them, they’re going to get two hours of literacy instruction from their teacher, picking up right where they left off and then we’re going to turn them over, in the buildings, to either the YMCA or the Boys and Girls Club and we’ll feed them lunch and we’ll bus them home. I went to these programs because kids in poverty, we have great summer programming, the Boys and Girls Club, the Y, they’ve got it down. So, we went to them and said, would you partner with us. There’s no money here, we’ll give you a facility and run your program here in our school. And we’ll get the kids here and we’ll bus them home. We have literally almost 40 partners for that. Who have signed up for that. In Jamestown, for the next few years, kids – and we’re expecting this to be around 600-700 kids that hopefully we’ll be able to intervene on that summer literacy slide so that kids are going to be reading. So, get kids reading, take on the ACES, take on the disconnection from schools by aligning with the local labor market. So, that’s my Reader’s Digest version of what is the Success Academy. It’s very important, I think, to hear it in the full context of the big swing that we’re trying to take. How about some questions?
Mr. Rabb: So, the summer program is going to start this coming summer?
Dr. Apthorpe: Yes.
Mr. Rabb: Well, we’ll probably have to have you come back after your experience with the first summer. I think this is pretty exciting.
Ms. Carrubba: Does this tie in at all, because we do have the summer playground program and I know places like Love School and I think St. Luke’s Church were doing things similar with getting children, giving them books, doing reading. I’m assuming that some of that is still part in parcel.
Dr. Apthorpe: Very much so; they’re very much partners.
Ms. Carrubba: What you’re telling me is not, at least the manufacturing because I’m on a couple of other boards with the WIB and also I toured Rand Manufacturing and that gentleman on the tour said basically they had openings for machinists and the reason why they couldn’t get them is they had enough work, they wanted a second shift and people don’t want to work second shift, they don’t want to work weekends, they don’t want overtime and I know places like Cummins and Bush even are running so many overtime hours people are getting really exasperated and it’s partly because they can’t get enough people to run a full shift with additional people.
Dr. Apthorpe: And yet, we’ve got bodies doing nothing.
Ms. Carrubba: Believe me, I understand. It’s the same thing with welding and some of the other advanced manufacturing, the other issue is the drug testing. There are people that – I think people are really looking away from the weed or the pot or whatever you want to call it because so many people test positive. The other drugs not so much, they’re not looking the other way, but a lot of manufacturers, they drug screen, they will tell you, we will lose the workers we have. A number of them. Because people are using those particular drugs. And I don’t know, when I look at, there’s been a huge shift in expectation of the younger generation in terms of how you show up for work, calling in or calling off work, being responsible. All of those, with every termed soft skills seem to be lacking in the younger generation. They want to start at the top, they want all the vacation, they want all the benefits and perks, but they don’t see a progression of you earn that as you maintain your employment. You don’t start out at the top end of the scale, you work your way up. But there’s an expectation and if you’re not making me happy at this job, I’ll go somewhere else that will make me happier because they’ll give me better benefits and they’ll give me all the time off and they’ll let me work from home. It’s a totally different atmosphere in terms of the expectation of the younger employee and the employer that’s used to people that show up and do their job and don’t spend all their day on the phone. People will tell me that the younger person will do the job and then they’ll disappear because they’re off somewhere on their phone hiding out. I truly don’t understand that and I don’t know – the discipline of this I think is great because it does teach them you show up and this is your job, to get through this and get an education. I think it’s wonderful, but some of this – and I’m not even talking about children in poverty. This is coming from middle class and up, the same type of work ethic and it’s unfortunate. I don’t know if you’re experiencing it. I hear educators talking about grade inflation.
Mr. Rabb: I’ve been in my classroom for forty years. I can go on and on, but I won’t.
Ms. Carrubba: I’m saying with grade inflation and kids getting very upset.
Mr. Rabb: No, they don’t have grade inflation with me. But, I’m in a secure position as a full professor and what I worry about at the college are my younger colleagues who seem to feel a need to placate their students whereas I can be the grumpy old senior professor who can retire at any time. If they have a test and one student gets an A, that’s it. You earn it. But, I’m in a bit of a comfortable situation where I don’t have to do that, but I think that is a problem, certainly.
Ms. Carrubba: But I think it’s an expectation of – you’re going to make me feel comfortable and boost my self-esteem and I don’t have to work for it.
Mr. Rabb: I think there’s that expectation until they run into me. And then I say I’m sorry you’ve got to do the work.
Ms. Eads: I have a question. I do not have children, so I apologize if this is inappropriate, but where are the parents in all of this? Obviously, they’re basically the root of the problem. Probably many, at least three generations deep of the problem. So, are these 1700 kids, is a lot of this about just circumventing whatever type of adult situation they’re in and just relying upon these kids actually responding?
Dr. Apthorpe: It’s a great question. The answer is yes. Elementary schools; we run upwards 30, 40 even 50% of our kids chronically absent. Think about that. Little kids love school. For the most part. 99% of first graders love school, but we’re a walking school district. So, there has to be somebody at home who is going to dress the kid, get the kid what they need and make sure they get to school. They get to the middle school and go back to what I was saying earlier, now they’re young adults almost, so now they hang with their tribe, where they’re connected. And if their tribe is either troublemakers or not coming to school, that’s where they’re naturally going to go. I said, and I’m probably conservative on this and I’m sorry it has to have a political label, but I’m a real practical person. In my mind, I think that social welfare benefits should be somewhat connected to making sure that your kid goes to school. Because if your kid’s not coming to school because you’re not getting them there, the cycle of poverty is going to most likely continue. Jamestown’s a great example. The physical plan of the schools is beautiful. The support services in this community are unbelievable and how do we get these kids to school?
And there are new federal laws in place, it’s called ESSSA, Every Student Shall Succeed Act and part of its criteria is student absenteeism, so our school is going to get rated as horrible because of student absenteeism. Let’s go back to our elementary kids. How do we get these second graders, third graders to school? Now what do we do? Do we – we already have attendance people who take them to court, but that’s a big process. Here again, schools are forced to become more than just educational institutions, they’re forced to become social institutions, so we have to get people to go around to these homes and help these parents. We talk about more people, you’re talking about a bigger budget, so that is a huge – it’s a great question.
Ms. Eads: Well, can’t the school district work in tandem with social services or whatever the county services are or one of our gazillion social service organizations in this town. That there can be a partnership.
Dr. Apthorpe: We do. The problem is the magnitude of it. 1700 kids chronically absent. So, we probably have, guessing, a couple hundred in the legal system right now over this issue; partnering with all these social services. It’s just overwhelming. And if, whether it’s the city, the county or the state or the school to address it with more people, we’re then, of course, talking about more taxes. Unless we get some sort of aid directly from the state. It’s a real problem. I’ve got principals and I’m really, really proud of my elementary principals. They have literally been going to homes with people – and they don’t have to do that – just saying, you’ve got to get your kid to school. And I wonder, so here’s an instructional leader, a principal, who has to go to the same house three or four times. You think about resources and the allocation of resources, that principal really shouldn’t have to go to these houses because they’ve got a building full of kids, but they’re trying to get the word out. So, it’s a real problem.
Ms. Eads: So, why don’t they get sent to school?
Dr. Apthorpe: The distinction of a child in poverty where there’s a cycle of poverty, there’s not a value on school. There’s not a value on going to school, typically. There’s not a value on work, typically. Typically, the hours of the people at home, their health habits don’t lend themselves to 7:00 shower, shave, get dressed and ready to go, contrary to the blue-collar home where mom and dad are up for work and so are the kids. Even though they’re not making much money, they’re living paycheck to paycheck, but there’s still that value. So, we have 75% of the kids that are in these homes of poverty. Nothing’s going to change unless we become real intentional about interceding, interjecting. So, the summer literacy program I told you about; that’s really free childcare. If you think about it. If you’re at home – my kid’s going to get picked up by a bus and get fed two meals and brought home at 4:30 every day. That’s free childcare. But what’s happening there though, we’re hoping, is the raise in literacy, so that the kid won’t be a dropout and have the skill sets. That’s an example of what we believe to be, or trying to intervene is a good word.
Ms. Carrubba: Isn’t part of the problem though that you’re dealing with families that don’t always stay in the same part of the school? They’re moving, they get evicted, so you’re dealing with the issue of they’re not always in the same school for the whole school year. You’re also dealing with the families that are, again, may be food starved. You’re dealing with issues of cleanliness where they’re constantly dealing with issues of lice and bedbugs and all of that.
Dr. Apthorpe: The Success Academy, by having all of those services there, each child is evaluated independently. What does this child need? Does the home need something? Because then services go to the home.
Ms. Carrubba: I think that’s what the county has realized. If they have a child who’s going through receiving mental health services, you can’t just deal with the child in isolation. If the issue is the family or the family dynamic or the household, as you’re describing, just dealing with that child doesn’t work. You have to help the whole family, the whole system, and I think that’s what you’re basically talking about. To even affect that child to get them to school every day, we have to impact the family and get them to understand the need. But so many of them are overwhelmed. My office is on Main Street. I see little kids walking themselves to school who shouldn’t be on the street alone. Those little kids will walk, many of them, alone. And I’m thinking, like you, where are the parents, but if they don’t get up and they don’t make it their business to walk that child to school, probably a lot of them aren’t going and I’m close to Love School, within a couple blocks, so you see that. That there isn’t a responsible adult or they may have their own issues as well that the parent is dealing with.
Dr. Apthorpe: As the leader of the school district, trying to leverage what resources we have, which are phenomenal, how do we leverage that? And I think, and this group is a great example, I was telling Dan, the new JCC president, when I first met him, this is a unique time in Chautauqua County because the leaders in this county, from all the foundations, everybody, there’s not a competitiveness here. Everybody, whether it’s the Y, the Boys and Girls Club, Gebbie, United Way, all the leaders of all these groups, they want the same thing. They want a better community. I’m in places where typically it’s political. Everybody’s competing and so nothing gets done. I was telling him, it’s an awesome time to be a leader in this community because if he has visions of connecting with the community, he’s going to find, as I have found, an awesome group of leaders who want passionately, for a better community. I think that’s a cool opportunity. So, we’re going to take a big swing at it.
Ms. Eads: If you’re going to be swinging from that direction, we need to have somebody else swinging from the other side.
Ms. Carrubba: And I also want to say for the record, not everyone in poverty is dealing with issues of cleanliness or things like that. But it’s also a product of, when you’re living in an environment where you’re in a multi-unit building, no matter what you do, if other people are not taking care of those things, so a lot of what they’re dealing with are the day to day things that you’re just going day to day, trying to maintain yourself, let alone dealing with the other issues.
Mr. Rabb: I think a lot of times families are overwhelmed and if I think of my own story growing up in the 50s and 60s. If my mother and father were overwhelmed, I was lucky because I had this huge extended family growing up in a Polish-American environment where I spent more time with my grandparents than my parents, but they were, in many respects, the rock in my life and my parents were having their own troubles. It was a different kind of environment and we all lived near each other. I volunteer quite bit at the St. Luke’s program and we try to help those kids read and a lot of them actually get better and they’re lovely little kids, but sometimes they start, being kids, they tell you stuff and you’re almost like – you don’t want to react because you don’t want the little kid to think you’re judging them or something, but Martha Zenns and I have done this and sometimes we are shocked at what these kids are telling us their lives are like and you don’t want to react, you don’t want to start crying, but you want to just hug the kid and say it’s okay and I think sometimes if they just have another adult – I even find that with my college kids. I might be the grumpy old man, but I used to say I’m like their dad sometimes, now I’m getting to be their grandfather, but sometimes they just need an adult who says we care and it’s okay.
Dr. Apthorpe: I came to understand my own bias with this poverty business. I was in a diversity thing and they were saying, okay, what’s your bias. I said, I’m not biased. I’m an educator. I believe all kids can learn. Well my bias was, and it really helped me reflect on my own paradigm, was because I grew up in a blue-collar home, worked very hard, my bias is that, what they call pull it up by your bootstraps, bias. That belief that, hey, opportunity here, it’s up to you to take it or leave it. Either you work hard for it and it’s your own fault if you choose not to do that. I’d reflect on that and then I began to do my research on poverty and that’s where I really began to understand how the cycle of poverty is a whole different – and these little kids that you’re talking about are being programmed. They’re being programmed.
Mr. Rabb: The world has changed. When I think back to when I was growing up in the 50s, I don’t remember anybody on my three-block walk to Catholic school, I don’t remember anybody not having a job. Unless they were old and retired, everybody was working. Everybody. Kids were delivering newspapers, women were working part-time. Everybody had work. It was just normal. We didn’t know there was another option, but I think if you grow up that way it changes your attitude. These kids are growing up in an environment where they don’t see that and their parents might be having their own troubles with drugs or anything else. Then you see these young people having kids. I think you’re right. I think everybody around you wants to do better because ultimately if we don’t fix this, even in a selfish way, it will destroy the community. This community, I always said, won’t die from the outside, it will die from the inside. All these wasted resources; adults and kids and I agree, every time I go into our schools, for all kinds of different things, I think I’ve been in all of them by now, I’m always impressed by how clean and nice and beautiful they are. The facilities are first-rate. And you’ve got staff and faculty who care. I think we’ve got everything we need to be successful. It’s always frustrating to me when we’re not successful. We’ve got, I still think, the best community college in New York State. It’s amazing what we have here, but we should be doing better. Maybe it’s putting all this stuff together, which is one of the reasons why we were interested in having you come and talk to us. I wish we had a better turnout, but we couldn’t control that. What I would ask is, one, this is great that you were willing to come down here and talk to us about it, but the Jamestown Strategic Planning and Partnership Commission was put together a long time ago with members of the private and public sector to come together to talk about how we could do things better, as you said, in a non-competitive way. We’re just here because we all care. I guess what I would ask, from your perspective and what you’re trying to do here, what could people who attend these meetings, whether they’re here or not, could do to help.
Dr. Apthorpe: I would say that change is hard for people and I think just to continue to be champions of kids. Because as we get into these programs, we’re going to be asking people to do different things and there are people who do things, or have done things for a long time and with that, how they say when there’s change, there’s 1/3, 1/3,1/3, to just invite people to continue to be champions of our school and hopefully, by these opportunities to communicate what’s happening, you’ll see the bigger picture so that you can hopefully be supportive. We’re going to be partnering a lot with our local businesses with these CTE programs because we really want that solid, direct – kid gets a diploma in hospitality or whatnot that they can be a part of the Comedy Center or Chautauqua, or UPMC, that’s part of a bigger picture of trying to improve our community and help our kids.
Ms. Carrubba: I love this Four Plus One program, but I also have a question and I know the technology is staying current with computers and tech is very expensive. And having had a son who graduated in 2013, who that was his field and he’s working in California now, what are they doing with those – because I think it’s a great way – my son would have left school earlier if he could’ve just gone – he knew in 8th grade what he wanted to do. And the idea of having some of these courses where you can do more hands-on versus sitting in a classroom that he just was not happy – did very well, but it wasn’t what he wanted to do and he flourished in college because he got to do what he wanted in the tech field. I think this will keep kids interested, if you can get them into those things where they don’t want to sit in a classroom and sit at a desk and just be spoken to. They want hands-on and working and what they know they want to do, that they’re passionate about. Because I think this ties in; you’re getting people’s passions and connecting and that’s going to keep them connected to the school.
Dr. Apthorpe: Cummins actually flew us to Indiana – there’s a school in Indiana that they partner with. Now the school in Indiana, because it’s a county system, has 100,000 students so it’s one superintendent for the whole county. We have nineteen schools, so it’s a little different there. The purpose of the trip, while I’ve seen it, for our colleagues to see, what does a modern school look like. Which is exactly what you’ve described. Jamestown Schools, the technical infrastructure is very 20th century. So, last year, the community supported and voted to approve capital reserve and we put an approved $2 million into that. But, by doing that because Jamestown qualifies for 98% aid, we could do $100 million in capital project work. Not saying we’re going to, but could, and not have to touch local taxes because it’s already taken care of. So, now what we’re doing is we’re beginning the process of what does a best practice modern school look like from a technology perspective and define what that is and lay out a fiscal plan for it and then go to the voters and say to the voters, would you approve us withdrawing money, that’s already there, to pay for it and not impact the taxes. So that’s our strategy financially. And that was important to me because when we were talking before about taxes and aid, typically the governor when he’s reelected the first two years, the following year, aid was the worst. So, if we lose 2% in aid, that’s a couple million dollars for us. So, that was important to have that put aside so it wasn’t impacted. That’s the financial plan for that.
Ms. Carrubba: I’m glad to hear that because I think if we’re going to be competitive and actually, even in attracting businesses here, you’ve got to stay in this field and you’ve got to stay current. It’s going to pass us by. You hear people talking all the time, if we could get more fiberoptic in this area, because of the cheap electric, it would behoove a company to move into the area, but you’ve got to have the number of people and the skilled workers to come in if you’ve got the infrastructure and right now I don’t think we’ve got the infrastructure, so to talk about your strategy, and I think some of the companies are putting more fiber rings around, but we don’t have enough for what a company would need to have to come here and try to do what they need to do, but you look at what’s going on climate-wise, people may be looking to move back to the north because of the issues they’re having with extreme weather on the coasts. If you look at the tech area of California and how close these fires are coming and hundreds of thousands of people are homeless and are people going to go back? Are they going to move back into an area where everything is burned to the ground?
Mr. Haines: I have a question about the academy itself. You’ve got the kids coming there; you’re busing them in. are the parents going to be invited to tour this place to try and bring a model of that and let them see what their kids are experiencing?
Dr. Apthorpe: I’m glad you asked that. Everybody at that academy is there voluntarily with parent involvement. So, this isn’t a place – a parent would have to be involved with a child’s participation in the Success Academy. It’s part of the criteria.
Mr. Haines: I didn’t know if you were phoning the other schools, bringing them there, bringing them back.
Dr. Apthorpe: In some cases, we are. But the kids who are going to be there all day for however long, they’re there voluntarily with a parent or parents’ direct involvement. So, in asking back to your question about where people can help, the rumor mill is that this is some sort of alternative school. We have all those places. Those places aren’t going anywhere; Jones Hill, Randolph, BOCES, Tech Academy. These are for the 1700 kids, like that little girl, who’ve got issues. Not trouble makers, they just have social issues and we want to help them get on the right track. But the parent or parents have to be a part of that.
Ms. Carrubba: So, in terms of if there’s a child who may be doing okay, but maybe needs a change of environment, maybe they’re getting bullied or there are issues. Would this be a program that they could then move out of their school for a while? Is it just the kids that have attendance issues? Because I guess I’m not clear, how do they end up there, can a parent say I want my child to go there, do the teachers make recommendations, could a student say I want to go there?
Dr. Apthorpe: Rogers only holds 200 kids, so we’re going to be very prescriptive, so we’re going to be working with counselors and teachers and principals so, this is going to sound sad, but it’s the reality of numbers. Where is your likelihood for success and start with those kids? We’re in a frontier, a new journey, how fast can kids go back into the classroom and bring more kids in. we’re not sure. Because it’s a journey. There are a lot of kids here that we’re talking about. But the hope is, that the Success Academy – because the big work with the Success Academy is, all of these agencies; Christine Schyuler and Patricia and who’s who, they’re working together for the first time, collectively. So, our attorneys came up with a signoff so that if a parent brings in a kid to this, they sign off on something that allows all of the agencies access to their HIPPA and FERPA information. So that’s the first time these agencies have done that. We’re hoping that this will allow them to better understand how to work together and we talk very frank about it, all of us, this is a journey, that we could put a success academy in every elementary school. Because really it’s more effective at the early stage. But the first step is getting these agencies to understand how to work together. But they want to and that’s awesome
Ms. Carrubba: It’s a revolving door. It’s like the Home Health Care Program where they do a blanket release. You can sign off on who you don’t want your information released to, but it’s virtually every organization that’s got anything to do with them and they will share information because, again, it goes back to you can’t treat the one individual, you have to treat the whole family and you have to deal with it. And if you’re dealing with a parent who has issues, it’s going to impact the child. If you’re treating the child, it’s going to impact the other siblings. Nothing is in a vacuum where everything is isolated and I think the more we approach it, systemically…
Dr. Apthorpe: And it’s not about more money. It’s taking the money I already spend and doing it differently.
Ms. Carrubba: I think it’s a great idea. Once somebody is in this academy, and I realize it’s a new frontier, who decides that okay, you’ve reached what we wanted you to, now you go back to your home school district and say they start sliding again, can they come back in or can they stay in this program as long as they choose or is it a collective decision, you’ve reached what we want, you’re done, we’re going to bring another child in because of the limited resources.
Dr. Apthorpe: We partnered with Boston College. There was a cadre of leaders such as myself, Dr. Daniels from Jamestown Pediatrics, Christine Schyuler, Patricia Bakman, Rachel Ludwig and Christine, at UPMC. She’s the new child trauma expert. We looked at research-based success. And Boston College with Boston schools has a program called Community Connects and the notion of it is that a child is evaluated and they’re given a profile. And that profile represents every facet of their life; home, personal. And then they’re aligned to a specific servicing agency and they have specific goals. So, as they reach their goals, whether it’s resiliency goals, learning goals. Once they hit them, then they can go back to their school. It’s a very clinical process, but we’re able to do it; by having Jamestown Pediatrics involved and the mental health psychiatry units down at UPMC involved.
Ms. Carrubba: There are so many moving parts and until you actually implement it, this is, right now in the this is what we hope to accomplish. And I think you will be successful because of all the players you’ve got involved, but it’s going to take time and again, not everybody’s moving on the same timeline. This child who starts today might take two years and another child may be ready to go back in six months. It’s anybody’s guess, child development is so different; it’s not on a timeline as anybody knows who deals with kids.
Dr. Apthorpe: Any questions about schools at all? In general?
Ms. Carrubba: I think we have an awesome school district, I really do and for the people who live outside this area – I came from a very small school and it bothers me when I hear the things that people talk about at the school; that they wouldn’t send their kids to the high school. There are so many rumors about things that are not true, which you cannot dismiss and social media.
Dr. Apthorpe: I tell Mike McElrath he has the most boring high school I’ve ever been in in my life.
Ms. Carrubba: But social media puts a totally different spin on it. I hear it from people and I say you know what, you’ve got to understand, you’ll find trouble wherever you go. I don’t care if it’s in the workplace in your community, in your school, wherever you want to go. It won’t coming looking for you if you don’t go looking for it. Put that aside. It’s a great school. They’ve got great advanced placement if your child is at that level, they have great services. Both my kids went there, I had no complaints, my kids didn’t really complain about the school or that there are issues. I just wish the community at large, because there is a very real stigma attached to the Jamestown School System from the outliers.
Dr. Apthorpe: Well, we’ll change that.
Ms. Carrubba: I would love to. I think as Jamestown, having come from somewhere else and having my kids exposed to the school – I wouldn’t have had them go anywhere else. I don’t care what the other schools are doing, I think they got a great education, they were prepared for college. If anything, college was easier than high school in the expectations and the advanced placement course. I think people sell this community short and sell the school short. It’s a great school and you need to take advantage of the opportunities and a lot of people don’t. that’s a problem too. If the parents and the kids don’t take advantage of everything that’s available to them including scholarships and getting help scholarships and things like you’re talking about. It’s too bad that more of them don’t and if Mrs. Love is still there, she’s dynamite in terms of helping kids get help for school. I can’t say enough good about the school and the guidance counselors at the school.
Mr. Rabb: I don’t know how to change the public relations of the schools because I hear this stuff all the time too. I don’t have kids and I don’t have kids in local schools, but I get my share of JHS graduates at the college as well as Southwestern and Falconer. My impression always is that the JHS kids are as well-prepared as the Southwestern and the Falconer kids and occasionally the rare Maple Grove kid. I don’t know what to do about that attitude. I’ve lived here for 33 years, but having come from the outside, it seems to me one of the great Jamestown sports is to continuously run this town down and I don’t understand that because when I came here in ’86 I thought I was going to stay a couple of years and then leave and it’s now 2018, almost 2019 and I’m still here because I thought this was an unusual community in that we had all those assets that you talk about and we have people who seem to really care and want to do the right thing. And you get your occasional crackpots, but by in large, I think people do, and we’ve got all kinds of great stuff here. I keep hearing about real estate agents running down the school system, making it difficult for people to sell homes because they say you don’t want your kids in the Jamestown School District and I’m thinking, why not? I don’t know how you guys can change that public relations image. You’ve got much more serious work to do, but maybe there’s someway to do PR that points out what we do right and our successes. As I said earlier, whenever I walk into our schools, they’re so clean and nice and kids are doing good stuff and I’m always blown away. I think some of these people who run down the schools don’t even go into the school buildings.
Ms. Carrubba: Look at the number of commended students they had this year for National Merit, plus the charity work that they do.
Mr. Rabb: Maybe there’s some way we could promote it.
Dr. Apthorpe: When people visit our school, I take them for lunch down in the elementary grades. The first time John Whitacre and I met, we rotate where we have lunch because I want them to see what our schools are really like on the inside. When I read the Buffalo News it drives me crazy because they Jamestown Police blotter stuff. It’s the only thing they cover. When I first came here, John came for lunch. It’s February and we had corn. Corn in February, I thought it was going to be awful. He loves the corn and I called the Food Service Director, but that corn really won him over and he said well that’s because it’s local corn. He said, we flash freeze it and serve it year-round and it’s local corn. How many schools do that? He didn’t have to do that. It’s those little things that don’t get out there.
Mr. Rabb: I think we need to find a way to get that out there. That’s another reason why we have this group. We bring people in to talk about stuff because I know we’ve got problems, but I think we forget all the good stuff that we have here.
Dr. Apthorpe: We did take – it may have come out of this group – it’s a great two-minute video on YouTube promoting Jamestown and we took that YouTube link and put it on our electronic application system that goes out to the state so that when a professional looks for a job, they can see it, they can click on that link. I don’t know who made it, but it’s a great video.
Mr. Rabb: I think that was Jamestown Renaissance Corporation.
Ms. Eads: Sheridan and Cranky…
Mr. Thomas: Cranky Plate Productions.
Mr. Rabb: That was through us because I’m on that board.
Ms. Eads: Yes, that was JRC.
Dr. Apthorpe: The Renaissance group, working with them, they’re helping us be able to put some grant information down for new – because we expect to hire 100 professionals over the next seven years and there’s a real teacher shortage. The idea is, we want to recruit, if they can get some sort of grants for down payments if they bought a house in the city. We’re trying to do those sorts of things and put those on that because it’s going to be very competitive to get these people. But, it’s a great video.
Mr. Rabb: Well we went longer than normal because I didn’t have a 10:00 class today. Bret, thank you for coming down we appreciate it.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
Todd M. Thomas, Director of Administrative Services/ City Clerk