Parents and teachers spoke out about problems with implmentation of the Common Core Standards during a public forum last night in Jamestown with state Education Commissioner John King, Junior. Some of the speakers argued the new curriculum is being rushed... while others contend there's too much testing. King addressed many of the criticisms voiced at Jamestown High School... including the feeling the Common Core is being rushed. During an earlier press conference... he expressed concern that New York state wasn't moving fast enough. King says part of that's because most community college Freshmen are having to take remedial classes. About 400 people... including many from the Buffalo-area... were on hand for the first session to be held in Western New York. Board of Regents Chancellor Emeritis Robert Bennett was on hand with King... and, met earlier with parents and teacher groups. Bennett says... while there's been some vocal opposition... they are hearing a lot of quieter support. King also pointed out that the Board of Regents adopted the Common Core in 2010 as a way to better prepare students for college and careers. However... he says the decisions about professional development and curriculum remain local decisions at all 700 districts in the state.
Frewsburg Central School district officials are "thrilled" with yesterday's vote to move forward with a major, 5.6-million dollar renovation project for both the middle and high schools. School Superintendent Danielle O'Connor says they'll begin design work on the four main parts of the renovations... and, specifications will be drawn up. One part involves a complete make-over of their school auditorium... which hasn't been upgraded in more than four decades. O'Connor says another key part involves student safety and security... which O'Connor calls a top priority. That will involve a make-over of the administrative office area. O'Connor says they'll also be upgrading a second-floor wing for technology... and, a new biology room will allow an advanced course from Jamestown Community College to be added. She adds there will also be new bleachers for the football field. O'Connor says the local share of the cost will be 525-thousand dollars. She adds the district is eligible for 91 to 92-percent state aid on the project. O'Connor says the next step is the design phase. Tuesday's vote was 107 to 78.
The city of Jamestown has a 2014 budget in place. Mayor Sam Teresi said Wednesday that he has signed 33.5-millioni dollar spending plan with NO vetoes. Teresi had earlier said that he found no problems with 91-thousand dollars in cuts made by city lawmakers from the final budget. The final piece of the budget came Tuesday when the Board of Public Utilities approved a 475-thousand dollar dividend payment to the city from the Electric Division. Teresi says the City Council left no stone "unturned" in looking for possible cuts. Teresi says the spending plan he delivered to city lawmakers last October was a "very tough, tight budget" without a lot of options available. He commended the leadership of Council President Greg Rabb... and, Council Finance Committee Chairman Tony Dolce for bringing in budget that only raises taxes by 1.9-percent. That translates to a 41-cent per thousand full value tax rate increase. He says the final, 2014 budget will soon be up on the city's website.
Local gas prices in the Jamestown-area have fallen just a fraction of a cent this week to 3-dollars-60 cents a gallon. That from the Triple-A's Fuel Gauge Report... which says prices have also remained fairly stable nation-wide. The Fuel Gauge reports the national average price for a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline is 3-dollars-26 cents. That's 2-cents cheaper than one week ago. During the recent fluctuation in prices... Triple-A says motorists across the country have experienced a variety of changes in the price they pay at their local station. Drivers in 22 states and Washington, D.C. have seen prices rise over the last week; while those in 28 states have seen prices fall. Prices increased during the second half of November mainly due to unexpected refinery problems that limited gasoline production. These problems included planned and unplanned maintenance that took longer than expected to fix.
Voters in the Dunkirk City School District approved Phase Four of the EXCEL project during a referendum on Tuesday. The 3.8-million dollar capital improvements project was okayed by a 272-39 vote. Dunkirk Superintendent Gary Cerne says among the major components of the project's final phase is the reconstruction of a campus roadway. The district will soon begin the design work. The project is expected to be completed by the summer of 2016.
Officials are trying to get more homeowners to register for New York's STAR property tax break before the end-of-year deadline. State tax officials are providing direct assistance to homeowners in seven STAR registration locations from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday. The centers will be in Albany, Binghamton, Brooklyn, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Long Island. The STAR exemption averages $700 statewide. All homeowners have to reapply for the benefit as part of an effort to weed out waste and abuse. State officials say 800,000 people still haven't registered with the Dec. 31 deadline looming. More than 1.9 million homeowners have registered for basic STAR exemptions.