John W. Dix

Dix, John OBJohn W. Dix, 83, of Volney, passed away peacefully Friday, March 27, at his home surrounded by his family. John had been a lifelong resident of the Fulton-Oswego areas. John had been a fuel truck driver for many years. He was an outdoorsman and enjoyed camping. He and his late wife were members of the Fulton Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses and, together, enjoyed participating in their many events. John was predeceased by his wife, the former Lena Mae Reynolds, and children Brenda, Joel and Lincoln. John will be greatly missed and forever loved by his children, Donna Abbott, John Dix, Georganna Woodworth, Christopher Vaughn; siblings, Edith Ives and Marjorie Calkins; 24 grandchildren; several great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren; nieces and nephews.  Calling hours were Thursday at Foster Funeral Home, 910 Fay St., Fulton. A memorial service will be Saturday, 11 a.m. at The Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses Fulton Congregation, county Route 85, Fulton. Burial in the spring will be at Peck Cemetery in Scriba.

District looking for input on website changes

By Colin Hogan
The Fulton City School District is looking to make changes to its current website, and hopes parents and others in the community will offer some feedback.
In a school board meeting last week, district officials said they are in the process of revamping the design of the website, Superintendent Bill Lynch said, after recently talking with people from Onondaga-Cortland-Madison (OCM) BOCES on plans for the redesign, district officials decided to post a survey on the website to collect input from the public.
“We’re in the process of continuing to work with (OCM BOCES), but what we’ve come up with right now is a survey that has been posted on our district website. And what we’ve done is we’ve communicated this out to parents, staff, principals and students in the district so they get the opportunity to offer input,” Lynch said.
The 13-question survey asks visitors things like how often they visit the  district’s website, what types of information they visit the site for, what they like or dislike about the  site,  which social media tools they tend to use and how they’d prefer to receive  school-to-home communications.
“To make the  website  as effective and beneficial as possible we really are looking for input from the community — parents, students, teachers, board members — we really want to make this a great communication tool for our schools,” said Stephanie Maturo, director of technology for the district.
Lynch said by receiving as much input as possible, the district can tailor the website to the needs of those who use it most.
The survey will remain available on the site until April 10. After all of the information collected has been processed, the district will meet again with OCM representatives to come up with a final design plan, which Lynch said will then be presented to the board of education for approval.

Lorraine “Lori” Woodworth

WoodworthLorraine “Lori” Woodworth, 64, of Fulton passed away at her home surrounded by her family after a long illness. She was born in Syracuse, N.Y. to the late Lloyd and Mildred (Recore) Rathbun Sr. She has been a resident of Fulton for 23 years. Lori previously worked for the Syracuse Home Association for 19 years. Currently and for 23 years, she has co-owned and operated Fulton Auto Salvage with her husband. Lori loved spending time with her family. She was also an avid BINGO player and she enjoyed going to the casino. She was predeceased by two siblings, Lloyd Rathbun Jr. and Ruth Bell. Lori is survived by her husband of 45 years, Steven Woodworth of Fulton; three children, Diana (Darren) Kelso of Baldwinsville, N.Y., Kathy (Scott) Grevelding of Clay, N.Y., and Steven (Jaime) Woodworth II of Baldwinsville, N.Y.; two siblings, Lee Ashby of Baldwinsville, N.Y., and Frank Rathbun of Plainville, N.Y.; seven grandchildren, Stephanie, Jordan, Cassidy, Scottie, Michael, Kaelyn, Zayne; one great-grandchild, Brynlee; and several nieces and nephews. Calling hours were Tuesday at the Sugar Funeral Home, Inc., 224 W. 2nd St. S. Fulton. Burial will be held privately.

C. James Weinhold

WeinholdC. James Weinhold, 84, of Fulton died Thursday at St. Joseph Hospital, Syracuse. Mr. Weinhold was born in Philadelphia, N.Y., the son of the late Charles and Carrie (Parker) Weinhold. Mr. Weinhold served in the United States Navy for seven years during the Korean War, and 15 years in the Air force with the Boys from Syracuse. He retired from Western Electric, Syracuse, after 30 years as an inspector, and later worked in the maintenance department with the Fulton City School District. He was Past Commander of the VFW Post 569, Fulton; and Past Commander of the American Legion, Fulton; he was a member of the Veterans Council, and the Knight of Columbus. He was a Eucharistic minister at Holy Trinity Church, Fulton, and a BINGO inspector. Mr. Weinhold is survived by his wife Theresa (Kidd) Weinhold of Fulton, sons Gary (Jane) Weinhold of Fla.; Steve (Lynn) Weinhold of Fla.; his daughter Cheryl (Bruce) Smith of Sackets Harbor; stepsons Don (Debbie) Kidd of Fla.; Gregg (Karen) Kidd of Manlius; his sister Ida Mae Weinhold of Fla., and several grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. In addition to his parents he was predeceased by his first wife Pauline Weinhold and several siblings. Funeral services were Tuesday in Holy Trinity Church, Fulton, where a Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated. Burial will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery. Calling hours were Monday at the Sugar Funeral Home 224 W. 2nd St. S. Fulton.

Robert D. Snow

Robert D. Snow, 84, of Fulton passed away at Oswego Hospital. Bob was born in Fulton to the late Frank and Marian Dickinson Snow and resided in the Fulton area for his entire life. He served in the Marine Corps from 1948 to 1952 before returning to Fulton to work for Alltel New York, Inc. and, upon retiring, Bob owned and operated Black Creek Trading Post. Robert enjoyed hand-crafting guns and hunting gear, oil painting, hunting, fishing and camping. In addition to his parents, Robert was predeceased by his siblings, Frank Jr., Elizabeth, Norma and twins, Ronald and Donald. Bob will be greatly missed and forever loved by his wife of 42 years, Marlene; daughters, Darlene and April (Bruce) and step-son Jim (Pat); several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Calling hours and a service were held Tuesday, March 31 at Foster Funeral Home, 910 Fay St., Fulton. Burial with military honors will be in the spring at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery.

Rosaria Tellini

TelinniRosaria E. Tellini, 86, of Brewerton died Wednesday March 25, 2015, at St. Joseph Hospital, Syracuse. Mrs. Tellini was born in Brooklyn, the daughter of the late Vincent and Angela (Miorana) Alfi. Mrs Tellini was a former employee of New York state. Mrs. Tellini was predeceased by her husband Hugo V. Tellini in 2011, and their daughter Theresa. She is survived by her loving children Joseph (Terrie) Tellini of Texas; Vincent (Sandra) Tellini of Fla.; Angela (Michael) Lucas of Brewerton; and Deborah (George) Murray of Pennellville. In addition she is survived by her brother Salvatore (Abby) Alfi, of Texas; sister Josephine (John) Tavormina, of Ga.; 21 grandchildren, and her many beautiful great-grandchildren. Funeral services were held Monday at the Sugar Funeral Home, Fulton, and in Holy Trinity Church, Fulton. Calling hours were Sunday at the funeral home 224 W. 2nd. St. S., Fulton. Burial will be in Our Lady of Peace, Baldwinsville, N.Y.­­

FCSD hoping for good turnout at upcoming Parent University

The Fulton City School District, as part of the Community Schools Grant, STLE3 Grant and the Title 1 Grant, will hold its first Parent University on Saturday, April 11.
“We’re inviting community organizations and teacher leaders to offer some insight into several areas, including academic, social and emotional,” said FCSD STLE3 Instructional Program Coordinator Mary Ann DeMar. “All these areas affect a child’s education, and by having parents, teachers and community leaders come together as partners, we are able to spend time communicating and learning together to better address the needs of our children.”
District officials hope that parents will take advantage of the opportunity to go to “school” while their child participates in learning activities simultaneously. Throughout the event, teachers will discuss learning strategies, Common Core Standards, best practices and ways to improve communication between child and parent. Community members will also have the opportunity to interact with board of education members. Additionally, representatives from Oswego County Opportunities, the Department of Social Services, Farnham Family Services and other local agencies will be on hand to discuss their specialty areas.
“Parents can choose which sessions they want to attend,” DeMar said. “There will be separate areas and different blocks of time that will allow parents to learn and collaborate around a variety of topics.”
Although the event is called Parent University, there are several activities planned for students, who are welcome to attend. Arts and crafts, age-specific learning activities, and other events will be held during the day for children.
The Parent University will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 11 at the Fulton Junior High School. The event is open to all parents, students and community members within the Fulton City School District.

County’s educators call for more local control of school districts

Roughly 350 people fill the cafeteria at Fulton Junior High School to take part in a countywide forum on education Monday evening.  Colin Hogan photo
Roughly 350 people fill the cafeteria at Fulton Junior High School to take part in a countywide forum on education Monday evening.
Colin Hogan photo

By Colin Hogan

Hundreds of teachers, support staff, administrators, parents and school board members from across the county gathered in Fulton Monday evening to send a unified message to their state leaders: leave educating to the educators.

The event, which was coordinated by the county’s teachers unions and held at Fulton Junior High School, was one of many being held in schools across the state recently. Speakers representing all the different stakeholders in public education discussed the many ways they’d like to see New York state release its grip on school curriculums and operations, and give more control back to local educators and school boards.

Among the most highly discussed topics were Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed teacher reforms, the Common Core curriculum, mandate relief and the state’s gap elimination adjustment on school budgets.

Teachers blasted the governor’s proposed reforms, which were outlined in his State of the State speech earlier this year, for being off the mark on influencing actual change, and condemned him for withholding aid from schools that don’t adopt them.

The reforms include changing accountability measures so that half of teachers’ evaluation ratings would be tied to how well their students perform on state exams. Currently only 20 percent of teachers’ ratings are based on that criteria. They also prohibit any teachers who have been rated ‘ineffective’ due to those test scores from getting an overall ‘effective’ rating, and extend the period for being granted tenure to five consecutive ‘effective’ years, up from three years currently.

Jeff Peneston of the Liverpool Central School District — who was named New York State Teacher of the Year in 2011 as well as one of Cuomo’s Master Teachers — said the governor’s plan is out of touch with the realities inside schools, and will only end up hurting students.

“Every one of the governor’s reform agenda suggestions is an experiment, and he’s suggesting that if we do this, this, this and this, and if we hold all these school boards hostage to budget issues, that somehow we’re going to solve the problem,” said Peneston. Like many of his colleagues, Peneston stressed that the decisions that determine how schools are run are being made by Albany lawmakers with no experience in the field.

He felt the proposed evaluation methods will not accurately assess an instructor’s effectiveness — an argument he said is too-easily discounted as teachers being afraid of scrutiny.

“I’m not here for the union. I’m not an angry teacher who’s afraid of losing his job. I’m not afraid of being evaluated — I don’t know anyone who’s afraid of being evaluated,” he said. “I’m afraid of being put on the bathroom scale when I know that bathroom scale’s not calibrated.”

Other speakers criticized the laying out of the Common Core Learning Standards for being a rushed process, too centered on standardized testing, and leaving little opportunity for teachers to take more creative approaches to their instruction.

“One of the biggest criticisms of the layout of the Common Core was how quickly it was rolled out,” said Barbara Hubbard, a former Fulton educator and current school board member. “The rush to implementation has impacted teaching and learning in our schools, and we must have a culture of trust and community in order to support change that is based on what will best serve our students.”

She said while standardized tests have been around for decades, the intensity of exams students now take, and the setting in which they take them, is far more daunting than it used to be.

Fulton City School District Superintendent Bill Lynch discusses the Gap Elimination Adjustment during the education forum Monday.  Colin Hogan photo
Fulton City School District Superintendent Bill Lynch discusses the Gap Elimination Adjustment during the education forum Monday.
Colin Hogan photo

“To be clear, testing is not new. I had to give New York state tests back in the ’70s and ’80s, but now students are taking tests over the course of many hours, over multiple days, and the tests are back-to-back on the weeks they’re given,” Hubbard said.

Hubbard said she’s been told stories of students “crying, having anxiety attacks and losing sleep over tests,” and of kids feeling “the responsibility for what might happen to their teacher because of that score,” something she called “a very unfortunate situation for our students.”

Kevin Caraccioli, a parent in the Oswego City School District, shared some of his children’s negative experiences with the Common Core, which he said “has turned our youngest generation into a bunch of nervous, self-doubting test takers.” He feels Common Core “places so much emphasis on testing and evaluation that it has lost sight of our proudest accomplishment: our children.”

Speakers’ concerns extended beyond the classroom, though, with many calling for the elimination of the state’s Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) — a measure that was enacted in 2010-11 to help the state close its own budget gap by taking back from districts a certain portion of their state aid.

In the Fulton City School District, alone, the GEA has cost the district about $10 million in aid it would have otherwise received over the last five years, according to figures provided by Superintendent Bill Lynch.

“New York state, as we know, faced significant financial deficits (during the 2010-11 year) and in order to balance their books, they took money away from school districts. The more money they gave a school district, the more they took away,” Lynch said.

Lynch said the GEA, coupled with the state’s cap on local tax levy increases, has left school districts — particularly high-need, low-wealth districts like Fulton — with considerable budgetary challenges. He called the tax cap “a backdoor way of limiting local control” — an issue many attendance felt would be the silver bullet is alleviating many districts’ problems.

“All kids need is a little more local control. Local school district control in decision making — within state guidelines, yes. We need to be accountable, but within guidelines, not with unfunded mandates and being held hostage for money if we don’t do what we’re told,” said Gerry Hudson, a former Altmar-Parish-Williamstown superintendent who moderated the event. “We know what needs to be done for our children.”

Attendees were asked to fill out petitions that will be mailed to each of the county’s state representatives. The petitions ask those lawmakers to “advocate strongly for equitable school funding this legislative season.”

David Derouchie, a Fulton teacher who helped coordinate the event, estimated that nearly all of the roughly 350 people in attendance filled out the petitions.

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