More New York state students graduated last year than the year before, according to a comprehensive study released by the state’s Department of Education this week. Statewide, the graduation rate went up nearly 2 percent from 2014 to 2015. Locally, Binghamton City School District saw a decrease in graduation rate from 60% in 2014 to 54% in 2015. Union-Endicott dropped from 84% to 79%.
Districts like Owego-Apalachin, however, actually saw an increase in graduation, from 81% in 2014 to 82% in 2015 while Tioga Center and Newark Valley each saw a 5 percent increase.
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Lockheed Martin has donated $150,000 to Broome-Tioga BOCES as they look to start a science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, hub. The STEM Hub of the Eastern Southern Tier will be created as part of BOCES’ School to Careers Partnership, which will fund the development of teaching and learning activities for teachers and students in the STEM fields. BOCES also hopes that the hub will generate more interest among students in the region in the science and math fields, while also being able to equip students with the necessary skills that businesses in the field desire. Lockheed Martin hopes that the funding will allow for the hub to succeed, and in doing so, create a pipeline of future employees for companies including the defense contractor. Broome-Tioga BOCES has fifteen component districts, including Owego-Apalachin, Newark Valley, and Tioga Center.
Five local high school students started to prepare this weekend for the 2014 Tioga Downs Scholarship Race. The scholarship race is set to take place on June 1st, and five local students are each working with a veteran Tioga Downs horseman to learn the basics of horsemanship preparation. After three weekends of preparation, students and their partner horsemen will be racing in a double-seated jog cart during the scholarship race. The Harness Horse Breeders of New York State and the Southern Tier Harness Horsemen’s Association will then be giving out $8,700 in scholarship money, with the winner earning a $3,000 scholarship, with prizes for the remaining finishers as well, each earning at least $1,000. The students include Shania Shaver of Candor, Kayla Martin of Newark Valley, Megan Vanvorce of Binghamton, Jason Hill of Maine-Endwell, and Rachael Oltmer of Union-Endicott.
The Binghamton City School District is inviting its residents to join in an online budget chat with Superintendent Marion Martinez. The chat will take place from 6 to 7 on Thursday, and Martinez will be taking questions and providing answers in real time through the chat on the district’s website. Participants can login at binghamtonschools.org/budgetchat.aspx. All questions and answers from the chat will also be posted on the website before the final budget vote takes place on May 20th.
Two bids worth $14.2 million were awarded by the Binghamton school board on Tuesday as they look to start construction on the MacArthur Elementary School. Site work will be performed for $5.8 million by a Binghamton construction company, with Rochester-based LeChase Construction operating out of their Binghamton office to do structural work for $8.4 million. The school was irreparably damaged by flooding back in 2011. The state’s Education Department recently approved the rest of the district’s construction plans, and the approval process took longer than the school had planned for in its original timeline. Currently the school is still slated to be open by September of 2015, but small projects may have to continue in the building through December of next year.
The Binghamton City School District is looking to beef their security by adding two additional police officers at two district buildings. The district hopes to add one officer at East Middle School and another at West Middle School. The Binghamton Police officers would have their salaries paid for by the school, a cost of about $100,000, while the city would pay for their benefits. The officers, known as school resource officers, would spend their day at the schools, leaving an hour after the buses depart. If the plan is approved, the two new officers would go through a week-long training run by the U.S. Justice Department on how to work with students. The district has to discuss the plans with City Council.
As the Binghamton schools look to add security, they are also looking to lower the tax levy. The district proposed its latest budget Tuesday night, which calls for a $108 million spending plan and a tax levy of 2.95 percent, close to 1 percent lower than the numbers presented last month. The proposal would maintain all jobs, but the district would be leaving five positions empty following anticipated retirements. The school board will vote to adopt the budget on April 8th.
Residents in the Binghamton City School district Monday overwhelmingly supported plans for a $12 million capital improvement program that will mean changes at 10 buildings. Voters approved the two-year plan 417-97. The project will make improvements to 10 schools in the district, including new roofs, drainage systems and updating security. The $12 million cost includes $900,000 that’s coming from the district’s reserve fund. The rest will come from the State. The voter turnout was less than expected, according to Assistant Superintendent Karry Mullins. She says usually Binghamton City School District expect 4-percent turnout, but Monday, just 2 percent of the voters showed up. The project passed with a 77 percent approval. Mullins said plans are to begin security upgrades by December 2014 and the maintenance projects in the summer of 2015.
With voting for the Binghamton City School District’s capital project less than a week away, very few members of the public made an appearance at the district’s final meeting to discuss the project. Three people were in the audience Monday night for the presentation of the project, which would cost $12 million and call for improvements across the district’s ten schools. Upgrades would include new roofs, drainage systems, and updating the security systems. $11.1 million of the funding would come from the state, with the remaining $900,000 coming from Binghamton’s reserve fund, meaning there will be no effect on taxes. A public referendum vote is scheduled to be held on Monday.