Picture of Superintendent of Schools

Dear Onteora Families, 

We are excited to welcome your children back to school and see how they have grown over the summer. The faculty and staff have been busy preparing their classrooms to ensure that we are ready to meet the needs of all students as they walk in the door on day one. I wanted to take a few minutes to share some information with you as we start the school year. As you read in a separate mailing, we have installed a new visitor management system in our buildings. We continue to view school safety as an important issue and we know that our families are supportive of enhancements to security. As always, we appreciate your support and patience as we become accustomed to the new procedures. 

Although we are currently in a heat wave, fall and winter will be here soon. This unfortunately means the return of bad weather and delayed openings and snow days. When you receive notification of either a delayed opening or a school closure, please know that we do not ever make these decisions lightly. Our Director of Transportation is always watching the weather, gathering forecasts from multiple sources, driving the roads within our District that are often the most treacherous and communicating with the various highway departments that plow our roads. Our district is over two hundred and eighty square miles, so the road conditions are varied from one end of the district to the other and student safety is our first concern. Even if conditions in your neighborhood may not be bad, if we delay or close school, please know that it is because conditions are dangerous or are predicted to be dangerous somewhere in the district. 

The NYS Education Department has changed the guidelines for attendance for schools beginning in this school year and Districts will no longer receive credit for being in session if there is a delay that is longer than two hours. This means that we will no longer be able to utilize three hour delays. If we cannot safely bring students to school on a two-hour delay, we will need to close school. While we have not used many three-hour delays in recent years, it was an option that allowed us to bring students to school for an abbreviated instructional day. We were concerned that this change may lead to additional snow days, so we have made a modification to the school calendar to increase our snow day allotment to eight days. We will now be in session on the Monday following Easter, so please plan to have your students back in school on Monday, April 22nd. 

As you are probably aware, there has been a national focus on student dress codes and a movement to make them gender neutral and eliminate students' loss of instructional time for dress code violations. Our Board of Education made modifications to our Student Dress Code Policy last year that are in line with this national initiative. Our Board policy now states that any school-directed changes to a student's attire or grooming should be the least restrictive and disruptive to the student's school day, which aligns with the philosophy of the administration. The section of the Code of Conduct that speaks to dress code was also modified to remove references to specific types of clothing that are unacceptable, as the Board felt these references were gender specific and were not applicable to all students. The Board has also modified the entire policy manual to be gender neutral throughout all of the policies. 

We are very excited to have converted to a new website that is now accessible and can be viewed in many different languages so that the information is available to as many of our families as possible. If you have suggestions for information you would like to see or that you can't find, please email our webmaster at webmaster@onteora.k12.ny.us . 

And lastly, please make sure you review your contact information including your email address in the parent portal to ensure that your student record is accurate. We rely on this to communicate with our families. 

Sincerely,
 

Victoria McLaren
Superintendent of Schools


An Onteora education fosters intellectual curiosity, mutual respect, self-respect, creative problem solving, individual expression, ethical decision making and active engagement in the world. Our community values and supports its children, through a holistic collaboration among students, families, the educational community, and Onteora residents at large. Students will graduate as engaged citizens and life-long learners with the confidence, self-awareness and skills to reach their maximum potential, and to live rich and successful lives.