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HFM BOCES developing goals for 2020-21 school year

JOHNSTOWN — HFM BOCES will likely work to form new connections with community members and groups over the coming school year while focusing on health and safety initiatives related to the coronavirus.

The HFM BOCES Board of Education on Wednesday began developing goals for the 2020-21 school year through discussion with District Superintendent David Ziskin as part of an annual process.

Goals typically center around the district’s vision to be “a valued partner, advocate, and leader in our region” and mission to “provide efficient, innovative programs and services responding to the needs of our component school communities.”

Ziskin outlined prospective goals for the board’s consideration focused on health and safety and social and emotional learning as HFM BOCES and component school districts face the continued challenges of providing education to students amidst the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

“You kind of see a recurring theme of health and safety with the crisis that we’re currently facing. Certainly, that has to be at the forefront of our efforts,” said Ziskin.

HFM BOCES throughout the spring and summer has provided assistance to component school district during the roll out of remote instruction when schools were forced to close due to the coronavirus and in the development of reopening plans for the upcoming school year by facilitating discussions among leaders of component districts to share ideas and distributing information to school districts from the state Education Department.

The board voiced support for the goals outlined by Ziskin while suggesting the district should do more to reach and engage with the community.

Noting that some locals are still unfamiliar with the programs and services provided by HFM BOCES, Board Vice President Jean LaPorta suggested the district set a goal of better informing the public of the district’s ongoing initiatives and provide updates on their progress throughout the year.

Board President Harry Brooks recommended establishing partnerships with agencies throughout the region that have objectives similar to HFM BOCES’, that the organization does not typically connect with.

Brooks pointed to the Salvation Army as an organization that has a goal of connecting clients with services or gainful employment and although HFM BOCES may provide educational or support services to those same clients, the two organizations do not connect directly.

“I’m thinking that might be something we want to explore,” said Brooks, suggesting the district inventory service agencies throughout the region that may have clients attending BOCES programs or whose clients may benefit from BOCES services to establish direct connections and improved partnerships.

While the emergence of the coronavirus has become a huge focus for schools as it impacts the delivery of education, Brooks suggested the district consider another timely leadership goal to facilitate discussions among component districts surrounding communication with students related to the ongoing cultural conversation across the country focused on racism and social bias.

“That is probably a topic we should be able to really formally address in our setting and help through leadership to communicate those ideas,” said Brooks.

Ziskin agreed that the recommended goal fell in-line with the district’s objective of providing social and emotional learning opportunities for students, planning to prepare a draft of the district’s goals for the 2020-21 school year for consideration by the Board of Education at the next regular meeting in August.

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