Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Year in Review

I completely understand if you do not want to read this whole entry, but I had a moment to write a few paragraphs so I decided to give it a shot. If you want the short version, I think we had a pretty good year. If you want the longer version please read on…

In July I started in this District very proud that I was given the opportunity to return to the neighborhood where I grew up and to be given the reins on the best school District in the area. I spent July and August learning names, structures, policies, and attended my first Superintendent’s retreat.

By the first day of school I felt that we were in very good shape to have a great start to the school year. Through my studies of the District and community I formulated the opinion that I would like to see cafeterias at East Hill and Onondaga Road Schools, as well as full-day Kindergarten at all of our elementary schools. I also felt that we should continue to look at Special Education and transportation to try to find ways to offer more opportunities to students and with transportation in particular, in a more efficient manner.

It did not take long into the school year to learn that the economy was beginning to head in a bad direction. I knew that I could forget about full-day Kindergarten and expanded cafeterias. We did make huge strides in Special Education and transportation however, and I felt good about our progress in each area.

As I began to learn about the District, I realized that the keys to our success really evolve around hiring incredibly well, having solid parent support, and raising the bar for success on each one of us every day. By November I recognized that the sky is going to be the limit. We have the staff, students, and parents to be an absolute powerhouse. This will allow us to expose children to a multitude of opportunities both during school as well as when they head off to college, the military, or the workforce.

The bad economic news dropped right before Christmas. We addressed the problem head on with the help and cooperation of our staff and community members and really had a master plan for the budget before Christmas Day. After the holidays we began planning for our budget presentations for the next year. I felt that our budget plan was fair and still allowed us to offer opportunities to students. It is difficult to keep everyone happy when reducing staff especially when we are the largest employer, but people seemed to rally around the cause and contribute in any way that they could.

While all of this was happening we were nominated as a Blue Ribbon School, we won a Marching Band State Championship and many of our teams were league, section and on their way to competing for State championships.

By the Spring we had passed a budget, recognized our successes, identified our growth areas, and began to plan for next year.

Then came graduation. I am really proud of the students. Their behavior through the end of school and into graduation was superior. This is really a testimony, because the senior class this year had to face some rules that previous classes did not. While they did not really want to follow the new rules and felt as if they were paying a price for past classes’ mistakes, they became role models for future classes.

Graduation was special and I am glad to have been a part of it. I get three more times to “practice” before my first son walks across the stage.

What comes next? Reflection, planning, and execution. We will shine in the face of economic adversity next year thanks to a large group of people who say “We are West Genesee” each and every day.