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Jan 20, 2019
Charlton Heights Elementary SchoolPashley Elementary SchoolStevens Elementary SchoolO'Rourke Middle SchoolBH-BL High School

School Handbook

separating rule

Framework for Planning

Mission Statement: The Burnt Hills–Ballston Lake Central School District creates an educational environment that ensures opportunities for learning, personal growth, and social responsibility.

Core Beliefs

  • The BH-BL community values its children and the quality of their education.
  • Comprehensive public education is available to all. The district provides a variety of experiences to allow children to learn.
  • High academic achievement is a priority.
  • Students, staff, parents, and community members are partners, and all have a personal responsibility in the educational process.
  • Students and staff need to be challenged to achieve excellence.
  • Continuous improvement is essential.
  • Change is the result of thoughtful study involving students, staff, and community.
  • Learning is a lifelong process.
  • Quality education is worth the investment and requires sound fiscal management.

Key Expectations

For Students

All students will:

  • Respect and be respected.
  • Be prepared to learn to the best of their abilities.
  • Use opportunities available to set personal goals and make informed choices to accomplish those goals.

For Parents/Guardians

All parents/guardians will:

  • Provide nurturance of children’s health and basic needs.
  • Provide a home environment conducive to learning.
  • Support the belief that academics are essential.
  • Be informed and actively involved in the educational process.
  • Teach and model respect for all persons and property.
  • Teach and model discipline and their own values.
  • Provide open, honest, and timely communication with school staff and other partners in the educational process.

For Staff

All district employees will:

  • Create an environment in which children are safe, treated fairly, and are prepared for the future with quality instruction.
  • Strive for excellence by working hard, continuing to learn and grow, and being adaptable, qualified, and well prepared.
  • Respect and be respected by students, parents and community.
  • Work cooperatively and communicate openly with all partners in the educational process.
  • Demonstrate their accountability by: using school and community resources responsibly; setting, achieving, and assessing measurable goals; and participating in on-going, proactive supervision.

For the Community

The community will:

  • Value education.
  • Be committed, supportive, and responsive to the schools.
  • Share their expertise and resources.
  • Provide bridges between school and life.
  • Set high standards.
  • Communicate and listen.

Adopted by the BH-BL Board of Education, February 1997

People and Places to Know

Main Office - The Main Office Staff is an excellent resource to use to seek help and information. If you have been absent, tardy or plan to leave school early, bring a written excuse from your parent or guardian to the attendance secretary in the main office before reporting to your homeroom.

Counseling Center - Guidance, psychological, and social work services are available through the Counseling Center. Services include assistance with educational planning, study help, career information, and social or academic issues.

Health Office - If you become ill or injured, inform your teacher, get a pass, and report directly to the Health Office. The nurse may administer specific medication only when the parent and the private physician have sent a written request (this includes all over-the counter drugs such as Tylenol, Advil, cough drops, etc.) Parents of students with severe allergies or other chronic medical conditions need to notify the nurse immediately so a medical safety plan can be implemented. For all immunization and physical exam information, please contact our school nurse at ext. 84035.

Cafeteria - The cafeteria provides a varied lunch menu each day. You may select the main lunch or choose from daily alternates and an ala carte menu to supplement a lunch brought from home. One lunch may be charged. Bring prepayments directly to the cafeteria manager. Prepayment will be accepted at any time. Make checks payable to the O’Rourke Middle School Cafeteria. All students will receive a student identification number consisting of 2 to 6 digits. As students approach the cashier, they will enter their ID number on the keypad. The student account on the computer screen is only visible to the cashier and will discreetly display the student status as being a recipient of free, reduced or full priced meals. Students should keep their identification number secure at all times.

Daily Procedures


1. All students arriving by bus will immediately enter the building through the door by the girls’ gym or room 114.

2. Students should proceed directly to the cafeteria (7th & 8th grade) or the library (6th grade) and remain there until dismissed by the attending staff.

3. Students arriving by car will enter through the doors by the music room and proceed directly to the cafeteria (7th & 8th) or library (6th). The left lane is a thoroughfare for access to the parking lot. The right hand lane is a drop off lane. No students should be dropped off before 7:15 a.m.

4. Bikers and walkers will enter through the doors by the Main Office and proceed to the cafeteria (7th & 8th) or library (6th). Students should not be in the school or on the school grounds until 7:15 a.m.

Morning Homeroom

1. Students will arrive to their homeroom by 7:45 a.m.

2. Students entering after the 7:45 a.m. bell should proceed to the attendance secretary.

3. Students will remain silent throughout the announcements.

4. Chronic illegal tardiness will be referred to administration and may result in consequences.

Daily Schedule and Lunch Schedule

Afternoon Homeroom & Bus Dismissal

1. All students should be in homeroom by 2:20 p.m. where they will sit at their desks until dismissal. Students must put chairs on desks as they leave, and see that their desk area is clean.

2. Students that take their instrument home, should get their instrument after 9th period and before reporting to homeroom.

3. Students must have a pass to be in the hall between 2:20 p.m. and 2:35 p.m.

4. At the beginning of the school year, teachers form a list of students who take the first or second bus dismissal and those who walk to / from school. At 2:20 p.m., only first dismissal pupils should leave homeroom.

5. The main office will announce 2nd and 3rd dismissals.

6. At third dismissal, walkers, bicycle riders, students being picked up by automobile, and those staying for activities, sports, library, and detention may leave. Students should wait until all second dismissal buses have left before crossing Lakehill Road. Students need to have written permission from a parent/guardian on file in the Main Office if they are not riding the bus.

7. Leaving on a different dismissal than the assigned one for any reason requires a parent note and/or a bus pass from the Main Office.

Acitvity Period

Students may stay for activity period if they wish to participate in intramurals or clubs, to meet with a teacher or to work in the library.

1. Activity period starts at 3rd Dismissal (approximately 2:35 p.m.) on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons only.

2. Students arriving late for their activity must have a pass.

3. Students must remain under pre-arranged teacher supervision until 3:20 p.m.

4. Students who remain for activity period should obtain a bus pass from the teacher in charge of the activity or they will not be allowed to board the bus home.

5. Students should check with their homeroom teacher to learn the symbol of their activity bus. Activity bus symbols and regular bus symbols are not necessarily the same. Activity bus runs are posted outside of the main office.

6. Bus transportation home is provided starting at 3:20 p.m. and lasting until approximately 4:00 p.m.

Sports/Activity Study Hall

All student athletes who are not under the supervision of an academic teacher until 3:20 p.m. must attend sports study hall during activity period. All students are expected to work quietly in sports study hall. Only those students participating in a school sponsored afternoon sporting practice/event are allowed to be present in sports study hall.

Procedures for Getting Out of School Early

If it becomes necessary for a student to leave school early to go to an appointment, the student must:

  • Bring a signed note from a parent/guardian to the attendance office before morning homeroom period. (A note is also necessary if walking to a local doctor’s office and the note needs to indicate that the student is walking.) Teachers will be notified electronically of students who will be absent from their classes.
  • Leave class at the excused time and wait in the Main Office. A parent/guardian must come into the Main Office to meet and sign out the student.
  • Students will only be dismissed as “sick” through the Nurse’s office and at the request of the Nurse.

Students are only released to approved persons as designated on our prescribed emergency information sheet and/or any legal document(s) provided by the student’s parent/guardian.

Making up Homework/Work Request

If a student has been absent from school with an excused absence, the student will be expected to make up the work missed. For absences of one or two days, students should obtain homework by calling a student from the same class at home, or accessing other available homework resources: websites, etc.

In cases of extended absences, requests for a list of missed assignments should be made by calling 399-9141 (ext. 84000). Requests will be sent out to the teachers after the 3rd, 5th 7th, etc. consecutive days absences. A 24-hour notice is needed in order to collect books and assignments. Homework can be picked up in the Main Office 24 hours after you request it.

Work Requests for Students on Vacation

Teachers are not required to provide homework in advance of a family vacation that is scheduled during school. Absences from school deprive a student of the classroom interactions, practice, and opportunities for additional assistance necessary for academic growth. Much of the learning in today’s classrooms involves group discussions, independent writing with peer and teacher conferencing as part of the process, group problem solving, cooperative learning, experiments and demonstrations. It is the parent/guardian’s responsibility to have their children present for instruction except in cases as listed above (see excused absences). Unexcused absences are defined as illegal according to State Education Law. In the event of an unexcused absence, the student’s teachers will collect assignments and tests given during the absence and determine an appropriate amount of time for completion upon a student’s return to school. Students need to be in attendance to complete the required state and final exams on the dates prescribed.

Drill Procedures

Fire Drills

As mandated by New York State law, schools are required to facilitate regular evacuation drills. The purpose of these drills is to practice safe and orderly emergency procedures.

1. At the fire drill signal, everyone should cease working and leave the room with the teacher in an orderly manner.

2. Students who sit by the windows are responsible for closing the windows.

3. The classroom door should be closed by the adult in charge of the class when exiting the room to be sure all students have left the room.

4. No talking or running is allowed during the entire emergency evacuation or reentry.

5. In every classroom there is a sign posted explaining the route of evacuation. Students should remain with their teacher at all times unless otherwise indicated. Should a student become separated from their teacher, the student should notify the closest adult and remain with that person.

Other Drills

The school conducts an emergency “go-home” drill each year to prepare for any situation in which students might need to be evacuated and sent home early, such as loss of heat in the building or a chemical spill in the area of the school. Students will be informed of the date of this drill, and their teacher will explain the procedure at that time.

Three security drills will be performed (Lock-Down, Lock-Out and Shelter In Place). The purpose of the drills is to simulate the procedures warranted during a variety of emergency situations that may occur in a school building. In addition, three bus drills will also be conducted during the school year to inform the students of the safety devices in the bus and their use in case of an emergency. Students will practice exiting the bus through the emergency door.

Phone Use

1. At the discretion of the teacher, students may use either the classroom phone or be issued a pass to use the main office phone. Appropriate use of the phone includes:

  • Parent/guardian requested a return call.
  • Notifying parent/guardian of staying after school for help or detention.
  • Notifying parent/guardian of a cancellation.

2. Calls for forgotten items or to make personal visitation arrangements are discouraged.

3. At no time are students to use their cell phones during school hours or activities.


A sign-in procedure is necessary for school safety and security. All visitors must sign in as soon as they enter the building. All visitors will be required to sign the visitor’s sheet and will be issued a visitor’s pass, which must be worn at all times while in the school or on the grounds. Parents who need to drop off lunch money, clothes, musical instruments, etc. to school, must bring them directly to the main office. Please have all items marked with your child’s name and grade. The office staff will make all reasonable attempts to let your child know that an item should be picked up from the main office. Parents must not interrupt classrooms at any time.

Student Visitors

In order to maintain an academic atmosphere for all students, student visitors are discouraged.

Lost & Found

If you have lost any article in the school building, check the lost and found bin (located outside of the cafeteria), then check the Main Office. If you should find an article, such as jewelry, electronics, etc., please bring it to the Main Office, so that the owner may claim it. Unclaimed items may be donated to charity periodically throughout the year.

Communication with Parents

O’Rourke Middle School parents are urged to pay attention to all communications that come from our school and our school district. Here are some key information sources for parents:

  • Calendar: A printed district calendar is mailed to each BH-BL household in late August. Along with the school calendar, you will find information about building contacts, the Board of Education, daily schedules, bus routes and much, much more.
  • Website: Please check the district website at often, especially the O’Rourke Middle School homepage. The website is a great information source for everything from bus routes to the Middle School Daily Announcements. Also, please note that the website can be your BEST information source in an emergency or unexpected situation because we can post updated announcements there as often as necessary. Many of our teachers have classroom websites which can be accessed through the staff listing page on the Middle School website.
  • ESchool Parent Portal: The ESchool Parent Portal gives parents and students access to real-time information including attendance, grades and assignment descriptions. Students can use this tool to stay on top of assignments and parents are able to participate more fully in their student’s progress. Different courses will have different items to post; some classes have daily assignments while other classes are more project-based and will post grades less frequently. Also, not all grading is done the same; different types of assignments can be weighted differently and count “more” or “less” toward a final average.

If something doesn’t look right, start with asking your child. They can usually explain. Students and parents have their own usernames and passwords. For an initial access name and password, please contact your child’s guidance counselor or the middle school main office

  • School Closings: When circumstances require that classes be canceled or delayed due to bad weather or an emergency, announcements are posted on our website at and on local TV stations. Announcements will normally first be given between 6:00 and 6:45 a.m. Unless otherwise noted, all scheduled use of the schools is canceled on a day when schools are closed for emergency or weather-related reasons. Parents may find that our website provides more information than the TV stations since there is no space limitation on the website. Also, although we rarely need to do this, all parents should instruct their children where to go if schools are dismissed unexpectedly during the day.
  • BH-BL School News Notifier (SNN): Please consider signing up for our “School News Notifier” email service through the website. SNN emails are currently the only means that the district is using to notify parents when the police inform us that a level 2 or level 3 sex offender has moved into our district. You can also sign up to receive automatic SNN emails to whatever email address(es) you provide when school is closed unexpectedly. Go to and click on the large SNN logo on the right to sign up or get more information. (Note: parents without email are welcome to view sex offender notices received to date in a notebook in the principal’s office.)


Academics & Grade Reporting

Report Cards

At the end of each quarter, report cards are issued. Students are expected to take the report cards home. End of the year report cards are mailed directly to your home.

The O’Rourke Middle School uses a two-tiered grading system along with additional comments.

Tier One – Academic Performance Standard: A 0-100 grade will be determined based on content knowledge stemming from graded materials (i.e. quizzes, tests, projects, authentic assessments, portfolios, laboratory projects, student notebooks and journals, classroom performance, oral presentations, and grade homework.)

Tier Two – Personal Development Standard: A 1-5 grade (5-Exceptional, 4-Very Good, 3-Good, 2-Needs Improvement, and 1-Minimal) will be determined based on the following personal development criteria: engages in class activities, demonstrates good work habits and neatness, demonstrates best effort, attends class on time and is prepared, completes assignments / homework in a timely manner, exhibits positive class behavior and attitude, strives to continually improve, cooperates with peers and adults, and demonstrates motivation as a self-directed learner.

If an incomplete (INC) appears on a report card, it signifies that the student is missing either a major project, a number of homework assignments, quizzes or tests (due to absence or other circumstances). This missing work prevents the teachers from reporting a fair and accurate grade on the report card. To replace the INC with a numeric grade, the student needs to speak with his/her teacher about the missing work and make it up. The make-up work must be submitted within 10 school days from the day report cards are issued to the students. When all missing work is submitted, the INC will be replaced by a numerical grade on the next report card. If the work is not submitted within the allotted time, the student’s grade will be calculated with the missing work – the result being a lower grade. {Note – This provision is intended to provide a fair grade for students facing extenuating circumstances such as illness, death in the family, etc.}

If an “F” grade appears on a report card, it indicates that a student has earned a grade below a 65 for the quarter. The purpose of the “F” grade is to allow a student the opportunity to improve a failing grade by consistently demonstrating an improved attitude, effort and achievement in that course for the remaining quarters. The teacher, in reviewing the student’s progress, may replace the “F” with a numerical grade ranging from 0-64, with the grade replacement not being lower than the earned grade.

Honor Roll & GPA

Student’s Average Award


94.50 or higher

Principal's Honor Roll

89.50 to 94.99

High Honor Roll

84.50 to 89.49

Honor Roll

In order to achieve Honor Roll status, no report card mark may be an “F” grade, “Unsatisfactory” or “Incomplete”. Honor Roll eligibility is determined by the GPA (grade point average) which is computed as follows:

Full year courses and half-year courses count as 1, every other day courses count as 0.5, and Band/Orchestra count as 0.6.

Example for Grade 8:

Math 80
Science 70
Social Studies 90
English 80
Spanish 70
Technology 90
Physical Education 40 (.5 of 80)
Art 80
Band 56.4 (.6 of 94)

Total Points 656.4
Total Courses 8.1 (6 full year, 2 half year plus 2 every other day courses)
Average 81.04

Promotion Policy

Children who satisfactorily meet the requirements for promotion will be moved on to the next level of instruction in the successive school year. The O’Rourke Middle School promotion requirements will have as its primary component the commitment to exhaust all avenues of intervention to insure student success in school. Should students still exhibit tendencies toward failure after interventions have been applied, through formulated instructional prescriptions, then the following determinations may be made:

1. Students who pass all academic courses shall be promoted to the next level of instruction unless it is deemed otherwise beneficial to retain that student for developmental purposes. This designation will be determined only after a consultation is made with the staff, parent/guardian, student, and Pupil Assistance Team (PAT) members.

2. Students who fail one course will be conditionally promoted to the next instructional level, with a strong recommendation that the student attend a summer intervention and/or bridge skills course. The student will be placed on academic watch to monitor their progress at the next level of instruction.

3. Students who fail two or more academic courses will be mandated to attend summer intervention courses in the same disciplines they failed, up to four courses; and/or may be required to take an additional bridge skills course to support their development. Passing the summer intervention course may result in the promotion of the student to the next level of instruction. Any students attending a summer school intervention program and promoted to the next level of instruction will be placed on academic watch to monitor their progress and may receive alternative education through school based intervention programs in the successive school year. Students who fail to attend or refuse to attend summer school or fail summer school intervention courses, run the risk of being retained at the current grade level of instruction.

Please note: Advancement is contingent on compliance with summer school attendance and behavioral requirements and is at the discretion of the building principal. 

4. Alternative educational options may be sought for students who exhibit chronic tendencies toward failure. Determination for these placements will come in consultation with the staff, parent/guardian, student, and Response to Intervention team (RtI) members.

5. The building principal will determine, in joint consultation with members of each constituent group, placement and status based on district opportunities and finances.

Student Identification Process

The identification of student academic and developmental needs shall be comprehensive and exhaustive with the intent to provide each student with a successful educational program. This premise includes students at all levels of the learning spectrum. Every effort will be made to identify student needs at the grass roots level through individual teachers and teaching teams. Strategies will be applied at that level which differentiate instruction for each child and provide for their needs as best can be served within the structure of the greater population. When all classroom strategies and interventions have been exhausted through collaboration with parents/guardians and consultants, then the child’s case will be referred to the Response to Intervention (RtI) team for further determination. The RtI team will then review progress to date, consult with appropriate student managers, and evaluate personal student information to determine further intervention strategies and/or placements. At all times, the parents/guardians will be consulted on all matters.

The school will administer a variety of assessments, both local and standardized, to help determine student needs and placement. These measures will be used in conjunction with other researched and proven measures of evaluation. Each evaluation of a child should be comprehensive and consider all aspects of a child’s development. Evaluation should be ongoing and progressive. All intervention strategies should be documented and monitored.

Dropping Band/Orchestra

Students may not drop a course without the consent of the parent/guardian, Department Head, teacher, and the guidance counselor. Until the request has been approved, and the teacher has been notified by guidance, the student remains a member of the class and must attend classes. Students who drop prior to the end of a ten week marking period will receive a drop/pass or drop/fail on their report card based on their perform


Students are encouraged and rewarded for outstanding scholarship, citizenship, and personal growth. Various awards are given to sixth, seventh and eighth grade students throughout the year.

O'Rourke Rave Board

Students and staff are encouraged to nominate students that demonstrate traits of good character. The students’ names will be displayed on the O’Rourke Rave Board, which is located in the hallway across from the Main Office.

Scholastic Awards

In 8th grade, students are awarded bronze, silver, and gold medals for the average of the first three quarters.

  • Students having averages from 84.5 to 89.4 are eligible for the Bronze Medal.
  • Students having averages from 89.5 to 94.4 are eligible for the Silver Medal.
  • Students having averages from 94.5 or above are eligible for the Gold Medal.

Departmental Awards

The English, Science, Social Studies, Math, Health, World Language, Music, Art, Family and Consumer Science, Technology, Academic Intervention Services, Special Education, and Physical Education Departments will each recognize an outstanding eighth grade student.

Student Clubs, Organization and Activities