Monday, April 27, 2009

A Pretty Busy Week

Well, last week was pretty busy. First there was a fire in one of the bathrooms at the high school. We are fortunate that there is a good safety plan with good people to follow it, or the situation could have been more dangerous than it was. We do have some opportunities to improve our attendance record-keeping and communication and those improvements are being made as a result of a debriefing meeting that was held last week. Let us all hope that this type of situation does not happen again. The student responsible for setting the fire was apprehended and when you include all of the items from clean-up, materials, labor, etc… the total damage will weigh in just over $20,000. In my opinion, $1.00 in damage is too much. We will not be sensationalizing this situation as it has been addressed and we are moving on.

The Board has allowed us to try to obtain some grant money to comprehensively outfit all buildings with security cameras. This has been in the works since September and became a focus area during the Strategic Planning process in January. You have my personal word that these cameras will not be used to create a police state; they will be used to help deter and provide us with successful investigations when students choose to make poor choices. We will continue to breed and foster an environment of respect and responsibility, but we are also going to take advantage of what is available to make our schools as safe as possible.

You might have also heard that we have decided to slightly change the times of the school day. This is being done to help deliver students to our schools in a more efficient and timely manner. This is also being done to maximize student time on tasks and to keep room for extracurricular activities, sports, jobs, babysitting, etc… I think once these new times below are in practice, that the 5 or 10 minutes difference from what we are currently doing will feel like no changes were made at all. In many cases the bus run times will not change. Stay tuned for letters from your child’s principal concerning the new times and new bus runs if applicable.

School Start and End Times

High School-(now) 7:30AM-2:26PM; (next year) 7:20AM-2:16PM
WGMS-(now) 8:00AM-3:00PM; (next year) 7:50AM-2:50PM
CMS-(now) 8:00AM-3:00PM; (next year) 7:50AM-2:50PM
East Hill-(now) 9:00AM-3:20PM; (next year) 9:00AM-3:20PM
Onondaga Road-(now) 9:00AM-3:20PM; (next year) 9:00AM-3:20PM
Split Rock-(now) 8:45AM-3:00PM; (next year) 9:00AM-3:20PM
Stonehedge-(now) 9:00AM-3:20PM; (next year) 9:00AM-3:20PM

Finally, we were able to lower the tax rate predictions from 2.15% to 1.4%. The updated presentation is on this web site, and the change was made due to some additional BOCES aid that we now know that we will be able to receive. No other changes were made to the budget as we head toward the May 19th vote date.

We are continuing to move in a very positive direction, and I am looking forward to our continued success.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Don't Get Too Excited

We have been tracking the latest budget news coming out of both Washington and Albany and the bottom line is that we will be making few, if any any, changes to our existing budget package. We are not confident that the monies that we are being promised (approximately $1.5M) will actually be delivered, and if they are delivered, for how long.

We believe that the global economic crisis will last two to three years minimum so the correct approach is to see what additional money actually arrives and then "feather" that money out to avoid having to make deeper cuts than we had to this year. I also believe that we will be able to restore in some fashion at least field trips, and some equipment, materials, and supplies. For the record, we have reduced our workforce by 11.4 positions but were able to retain our teaching staff due to other retirements, resignations, and terminations.

It has been fun watching classes launch rockets, perform plays and concerts, and prepare for Open Houses. I am really looking forward to the Diversity Fair being held this Saturday at the high school as well as being able to check out a few lacrosse and softball/baseball games while it is still light out!

My next post will be made soon and will include information about some directions that we will be heading into this Summer as we prepare for next school year.

Take care.