Monday, January 11, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Many things have happened in ten short days. For starters, we are back in the saddle and running all of our classes and events. Data we have received thus far concerning Elementary assessments is better than expected, and our at-risk initiative in the middle and high schools has already helped position six students who might not have graduated, to graduate on time in June.

Financially speaking, your guess is as good as mine. Suffice it to say that we are going to need to do more, or at least the same, with fewer resources. Although in the State of the State address given by the Governor he did not specifically mention cuts to schools, but it is safe to say that there will be major reductions in what we are given as far as State Aid for next year. If we were to roll our budget over based on what we think the State will be providing us, our tax levy would not be acceptable to you or me.

Mr. Pelton, the Assistant Superintendent for Management Services, and I are calculating how much money will need to be reduced from our budget in order to present something to you that we and the Board of Education think is acceptable. If I had to make an educated guess with the information that I have today, I would put our reduction amount just north of $1,000,000. We pooled supplies, combined positions, and changed how we delivered some services last year to close a gap of nearly $2,000,000. With those options mainly gone, we are going to have to take a hard look at all staffing and make some decisions that will be difficult but will be necessary for our long term success.

I have been asked when is this economic condition going to end? When can we just run a “regular” school year? I believe that the answer is 2012 but that is dependent on the State and local Government. Decisions at those levels need to be focused, with long-term vision and an understanding that moving forward, we will not be able to operate as we have been. As I always tell people, we will get it done.

On the positive side, the U.S. Education Department is trying to start an initiative called “Race to the Top”. Essentially the program is to reform schools across the U.S. so that teacher preparation, evaluation, and assessment is better so that instruction and results can improve. Each state, including New York, has applied for these funds. West Genesee could see up to $700,000 in funding to revamp some of our programs to meet the specifications of “Race to the Top”. We should know by April. Any type of award would most likely not affect the 2010-2011 budget, but would affect the 2011-2012 budget. This is okay because we could use that funding down the road as the economy recovers and we are always looking for any tools that will make us better as a District.

Have a great week!