Monday, November 17, 2014

Innovation Tech "offers students a unique learning experience"

OCM BOCES' Innovation Tech was profiled this morning in an article by Sarah Moses of the Syracuse Post-Standard/ Read the full story here.

Innovation Tech is the first and only New Tech high school in Central New York, located at the Lee G. Peters Career Training Center in Liverpool. Plans are proceeding for a second facility, in Cortland County, to open in September 2015. Innovation Tech employs a project-based learning approach that engages students with authentic learning and meaningful collaboration.

Students work in teams to creatively solve problems, working hand-in-hand with businesses in the community. All students at Innovation Tech earn college credit, participate in internships, and give back to the community through service learning. It's an approach to learning that reflects the 21st Century and the global environment in which we live. Relevant and student-driven learning begins with teaching that is engaging and a culture that is empowering. At Innovation Tech, students become self-directed learners who no longer depend on teachers and textbooks in a search for a single, right answer. Students use technology on a regular basis and not just as a special event--each student uses their own laptop computer to connect them to the world and facilitate the research and creativity that they need to be successful in their future. Students work in teams on authentic projects to develop critical thinking and communication skills. Teamwork builds social skills and work ethic critical in today's business environment.

Innovation Tech operates with the understanding that the ways in which we work and communicate have changed and prepares students to live and work in our ever-changing world. Stay in touch with Innovation Tech at the Innovation Tech Facebook page. Read more about Innovation Tech on the OCM BOCES website here.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Being Smart about the Smart Schools Bond Act

J. Francis Manning, OCM BOCES District Superintendent
On Tuesday, November 4, the New York Bonds for School Technology Act, Proposal 3, also known as the Smart Schools Bond Act of 2014, was approved by New York state voters.

The measure, proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State Address last January, was not without its detractors. While supporters argued that the bonds would help boost our students’ technological literacy, improve facilities and provide much-needed funding for high-tech infrastructure, others countered that any newly purchased technology would become obsolete well before the repayment of the debts, and that the sale of bonds up to $2 billion would serve to push the state even deeper into debt.

Whether you agree or not, every school district in the state soon will be able to accept one-time Smart Schools bond funding for technology. School district board members and superintendents will undoubtedly find it tempting to purchase laptops, tablets, interactive white boards and other technology for their students. We naturally want these things for every student in every classroom. Before we buy anything, however, it is time for some long-term planning.

First, we should apply some fundamental principles to our planning, beginning with the end in mind. This means that we don’t start by drawing up lists of the technology we want to purchase. That’s the last step. Instead, we should ask ourselves, “What are the goals we have for our students and for their futures? What do we want students to be able to do?” The answers to these questions will point us in the right direction.

Once we’ve identified the skills our students need in order to be college, career and citizenship ready, the next step will be to describe what it looks like when those students are being successful. We’ll want to see students effectively using technology to help them conduct relevant, authentic research as they solve problems and work on projects. In fact, the New York Smart Schools Commission makes this recommendation in their final report.

The last thing to do is to think about the purchases we can make with our allocation of Smart Schools bond money. We’ll want to think long-term rather than short-term as we plan our purchases. It doesn’t make sense to purchase technology that will be obsolete long before we stop paying for the bond. Think of it like buying a house. With a mortgage, you buy a house or improve the structure. You wouldn’t use the money to buy a TV or pay the cable bill. This is no different.

By beginning with the end in mind when planning for this money, we will be investing in the future of our districts and, most importantly, the future of our students.

J. Francis Manning, District Superintendent
Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES

Monday, October 27, 2014

OCM BOCES McEvoy students attend Construction Career Day

2014 construction career day
Seventeen OCM BOCES Construction Technology students from the McEvoy Education Center in Cortland, New York, were among the nearly 600 others from 19 school districts in the 2014 Southern Tier of New York that recently took part in a day-long Construction Career Day.

The Southern Tier Construction Career Day held Wednesday, October 8, at the Broome County Highway Department facility in Chenango Bridge, featured exhibits by a variety of organizations and schools associated with the construction industry as well as trade displays and heavy equipment demonstrations. For many students, the hands-on experience included the opportunity for supervised operation of heavy equipment such as bulldozers, backhoes and dump trucks.

Construction Career Day is designed to introduce high school students to the career opportunities and unlimited potential for advancement within the construction industry. The event is organized by a consortium of groups, including the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), the Broome County Highway Department, Broome-Tioga Workforce New York, Broome-Tioga BOCES and several local companies and trade unions involved in the construction industry.

The program is directly supported by the Federal Highway Administration through the NYSDOT, which provides a grant to help fund the program around New York state. The grant includes costs for busing, insurance and lunch. In addition, Broome-Tioga Workforce New York provides grant funding to offset costs associated with the event. There is no cost to participating schools.

Friday, October 24, 2014

2014 Greater CNY School Library System Annual Conference to be held Oct. 27

The 2014 Greater CNY School Library System Annual Conference will be held Monday, October 27, and will feature keynote speaker and 2014-2015 American Association of School Librarians (AASL) President-elect Leslie Preddy, the “Innovative Educator” Lisa Nielsen and a variety of workshops aimed to give librarians, teachers, administrators and students the tools and insights they need to meet the media and information needs of the next generation.

The event will run from 8:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Holiday Inn, 441 Electronics Parkway, Liverpool, New York.

This year’s conference carries the theme, “The Now Revolution in School Libraries,” and will also host information sessions on many topics including embracing the power of mobile devices, building a reading community, digital citizenship, apps for learning and creating augmented realities. School librarian poster presentations and more than 25 vendor tables and vendor presentations will also take place throughout the day.

Registration fees are $90 for current librarians, teachers and administrators, $50 for students. For more information and to register, visit:

The conference is sponsored by Onondaga-Cortland-Madison (OCM) BOCES, the Center for Instruction, Technology & Innovation (formerly the Oswego County BOCES) and Syracuse City School Libraries, and co-sponsored by Central New York School Librarians (CNYSL) and the Central New York/Oswego County Teacher Center.

About Keynote Speaker Leslie Preddy

Leslie Preddy has been the school librarian at Perry Meridian Middle School in Indianapolis, Indiana since 1992. She is a past recipient of AASL’s Collaborative School Library Media Award and School Library Media Program of the Year. She is a former MSD of Perry Township Teacher of the Year and a 2010 finalist for Indiana State Teacher of the Year. She is a past president of the Association of Indiana School Library Educators (AISLE), a past general chair of the state’s Young Hoosier Book Award (YHBA) program and recipient of AISLE’s prestigious Peggy L. Pfeiffer Service Award. She has published more than 30 articles in professional journals, co-created online resources and has served as an adjunct professor at Indiana University, Indiana State University and IUPUI. Her book, SSR with Intervention: A School Library Action Research Project (Libraries Unlimited 2007), was named one of the Best Professional Books of 2007 by Teacher Librarian; and her book, Social Readers: Promoting Reading in the 21st Century (Libraries Unlimited 2010), was Highly Recommended by Library Media Connection. Her most recent book is School Library Makerspaces: Grades 6-12 (Libraries Unlimited 2013).

About Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES

For more than 60 years, Onondaga-Cortland-Madison Board of Cooperative Educational Services (OCM BOCES) has provided a wide array of services for its 23 component school districts in Onondaga, Cortland and Madison counties, and the Syracuse City School District. Program offerings include career and technical education, special education, alternative education and workforce preparation for adults. Instructional support offers professional development, science kits, library services and related programs for teachers and administrators. Our administrative services division offers opportunities for school districts to save money by working together through financial services, including cooperative purchasing and business office support as well as a regional energy services program, providing large-scale purchasing of natural gas and electricity for more than 160 school districts and municipalities. OCM BOCES District Superintendent J. Francis Manning works closely with the component districts as a liaison to, and agent of, the New York State Commissioner of Education.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

OCM BOCES District Superintendent: 4+1 Pathway adoption is good news

The New York State Education Department and Board of Regents have heard from the community about the need to offer high school students different paths that give them options regarding their own learning and development and that better prepare them for the demands of life and work in today’s world. In recognition of the fact that “one size does not fit all,” we applaud the NYS Board of Regents’ recent action in adopting a “4+1 Pathway” model for students wishing to earn a Regents diploma. The “4” refers to a requirement of passing four Regents exams, while the “1” refers to options that students have for the fifth test.

The 4+1 model allows for different ways to meet the requirement of passing five Regents exams to graduate. The four required Regents examinations are English language arts, mathematics, science, and either US history or global history and geography.

For the fifth exam requirement, students will have the following Pathway options: Humanities: (one additional social studies Regents examination or approved alternative); Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM): one additional Regents examination in a different course in mathematics, science or an approved alternative); Languages Other Than English (LOTE): a pathway assessment that could include a biliteracy; Career and Technical Education (CTE): an approved CTE pathway assessment following successful completion of a CTE program-approved pursuant, and; Arts: an approved arts assessment.

Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES has been working diligently with Central New York school districts in providing the leadership to facilitate and implement this much-needed change to our educational model. For all of our students in Central New York, we have a Regional Vision of Readiness that is founded on an uncompromising and relentless commitment to preparing them for college, career and citizenship – in other words, preparing our young adults for their future. At the heart of this vision are three commitments: providing instruction that engages, a culture that empowers and technology that enables. Central New York school districts are working together to increase the extent to which these three commitments characterize our schools. We are creating new regional schools, such as Innovation Tech High School in Liverpool, in which integrated project-based learning (PBL) courses, collaboration and technology are key in teaching and learning. PBL will be a significant component of all BOCES programs, as will increased internships, local business-embedded programs and the use of technology in ways that more closely mirror the world our students will enter after graduation. It is important to note that instruction will continue to be based on NYS Learning Standards and that students will continue to take all state-required exams (which are now changing as well).

This is good news for the students of New York. The provision of these choices is recognition of the fact that our current system of education in New York needs changing. This is a good first step. In the future, Central New York schools and districts will continue to advance a version of college and career readiness that is focused on the future rather than the past.

J. Francis Manning, district superintendent
Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

WSYR features OCM BOCES in report about 4+1 Pathways approval by the Board of Regents

Onondaga-Cortland-Madison (OCM) BOCES Career and Technical Education Director Phil Grome and Lab Tech Instructor Janet Clark spoke to WSYR in an October 21, 2014 news story about the Board of Regents recent approval of the 4+1 Pathways.

The Pathways model allows for different ways to meet the requirement of passing five Regents exams to graduate. The four required Regents examinations are English language arts, mathematics, science, and either US history or global history and geography. For the fifth exam requirement, students will have the following options: Humanities; Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM); Languages Other Than English (LOTE); Career and Technical Education (CTE), and; the Arts.

In the story, Grome explains that "the state is really calling for students to be career, college and citizenship ready. And it's a perfect fit for what we do here at OCM BOCES." Clark, speaking about career readiness and students in the OCM BOCES laboratory tech program, is quoted, "They learn all the techniques to have a very successful career in any type of laboratory field."

While the Pathways model was approved on Monday, October 20, the Board will still have to present the changes for permanent adoption at their January 2015 meeting.

To read the story, visit:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Children's Village to close in June 2015

Onondaga-Cortland-Madison (OCM) BOCES recently informed impacted staff and families that its inclusive preschool program, Children’s Village, at East Syracuse-Minoa’s Park Hill School will close in June 2015 for financial reasons. The half-day program currently serves approximately 60 students with disabilities from various school districts in Central New York with a staff of 15 OCM BOCES employees.

The care day rate, set by the New York State Education Department, has not increased for OCM BOCES since the 2010-11 school year. Earlier this year, OCM BOCES administration met with the Onondaga County Executive’s Office to discuss the program’s financial situation and the need to close if additional funding was not made available.

“This difficult decision was made only after great deliberation,” said OCM BOCES District Superintendent Jody Manning. “Unfortunately, all of our program budgets needs to be self-sustaining and because of the stagnant rate of funding, this program could not do so. We are working to place all of our staff in new assignments and are readily available to help families find alternative appropriate programs for their children.”

The OCM BOCES Children’s Village Preschool Program at Park Hill Elementary School is one of only three BOCES preschool programs in New York state. All other BOCES preschool programs have previously closed for financial reasons.

Following is a list of preschool programs for students with special needs:

SPICE – Elmcrest Children’s Center (315/446-3220) 960 Salt Springs Road, Syracuse, NY 13224  

Enable – Exploring Your World (315/475-1382) 1603 Court Street, Syracuse, NY  13208

Jowonio School (315/445-4010) 3049 East Genesee Street, Syracuse, NY 13224

Liberty Post (315/425-1004) 1045 James Street, Syracuse, NY 13203

Little Lukes (315/701-1107) 5820 Heritage Landing Drive, East Syracuse, NY 13057

Main Street Early Education Center (315/218-2200) 205 S. Main Street, North Syracuse, NY 13212

Onondaga Central Preschool (315/552-5070) 208 Rockwell Road, Nedrow, NY 13120