A meeting this week at Waterville Junior-Senior High School will kick off the change to a new school mascot.
Anyone can attend the meeting Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 4 p.m. in the school library. The discussion will solicit ideas for a mascot to replace Indians following a New York state Education Department directive for all schools to eliminate mascots that use Native American mascots.
Junior-Senior High Principal Jennifer Dainotto said students are talking about the possibilities for a new mascot and seem excited to make the change. “They understand the reasons for it,’’ she said.
Spring said the district will look to the Barton Fund for money to replace the scoreboard and for new uniforms. Some emblems in the building have been taken down or covered.
Board member Dave Poyer said the changes should go slower. “We know it’s coming but we’re still the Indians until it changes. We need to respect everyone and we have until 2025.’’
Spring said she will no longer use her school letterhead that includes an Indian head. She displayed some options for a purple and/or purple and gold (or yellow) capital W as the school symbol.
Teacher Debby Nicotera spoke and said many other schools are already moving to remove symbols of Native Americans they have been using. “It’s sending the message this needs to start now.’’
In other matters from the two-and-a-half hour public session of the meeting, Katie Hansen, director of Special Programs and Services, gave an update on the Special Education program. Hansen said as of last week 128 WCS students with disabilities are in the program, although that number changes frequently based on testing to qualify and students who transfer into the district.
The top reason students are in the program is because of learning disabilities, Hansen said. The program also administers to pre-school children to provide them with services before they begin pre-K and kindergarten.
Services include speech, physical therapy and emotional disabilities.
With 128 students just under 17 percent of the school population receives services. WCS Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Spring said that is slightly higher than the state average of 16 percent.
It breaks down to 50 students at Memorial Park School, 36 students at the Junior-Senior High, 29 students through BOCES, nine pre-school students and two homeschooled students.
Hansen said the district receives about 80 percent reimbursement for special programs costs from the state. Spring said even though program costs fluctuate greatly within a year, the state does not allow districts to establish reserve funds to set aside money.
Hansen, who began her position with the district this school year, said WCS always looks to see if services can be provided within the district before sending a child to another site. “We hear a lot people saying I want my child to be part of the district,’’ she said.
The longterm effects of the pandemic to require more services are being weighed, she said. “Second and third graders missed a critical time for literacy growth,’’ Hansen…