Friday, April 30, 2010

Did You Know That Our Varsity Softball Team is 7-0!

As we count down the days until the budget vote, which will lead us quickly to graduation, it is time to reflect on all of the great things that are happening.  For starters we have plenty of people signed up to help us re-vamp our anti-bullying program(s) into one K-12 message and to brainstorm ways to help lessen the bullying that is happening.

While it is very clear that the majority of bullying is happening on the Internet and cell phones, we are developing some strategies to involve parents more to help make them aware of what their children are doing and give them skills to help their children to make better choices when they choose to bully. I am excited that we will develop something powerful and pertinent.

The Junior Prom is this weekend also and our attendees are a excited as ever.  Please keep an extra thought in your head that all of our attendees make good choices and get to and from the Prom safely. 

We are also pleased with our Facebook fan page at!/pages/Camillus-NY/West-Genesee-Central-School-District/358918496938?ref=ts. We get more followers each day, and it is a great place to get information about the school.  Check it out.

Before I get back to budget work, I wanted to let you know that I am going to start a new segment on Twitter called "Did You Know".  It will be the first tweet that I send each day and will include a fun fact about something in the District. 

All for now.  Enjoy what is looking like a very nice weekend.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Some Thoughts Before Break

I wanted to send you into the break week with a few deep thoughts and maybe a few shallow ones as well. This post is lengthy, so don't tell my former English Teachers at Westhill or St. Ann's that I can actually write. Thank you.

1. DWI Simulated Crash: On May 14 at 7:30 a.m., we will be holding a DWI simulated crash in the grass stadium at the high school. This will be similar to what we did last year with the seniors, except we are going to add the juniors so that we can do this exercise every other year instead of every year. More details will follow but this important exercise was beneficial last year, and I expect much of the same for this year. Anything we can do to remind our students not to drink and drive is time well spent in my book. We will have a section for parents and community members if you would like to see our community volunteers and school officials at work.

2. Anti-Bullying Task Force: Recently a girl in Massachusetts was "Facebook-ed" to death by her peers. When Channel 3 asked me what we do as far as anti-bullying efforts, I was quite embarrassed to tell them that we have over 30 programs K-12 but yet bullying remains. I have always believed, and still believe, that teaching kids not to bully starts at the dinner table and ends at their school desk. 

When I sat back and looked at all of the programs that we have (many at substantial cost), it got me thinking that we need to assemble a group of people to review what we do have and refocus the message with one strong program and one strong message that we can use K-12 and in the community. I am assembling a "task force" consisting of Board members, administrators, teachers, support staff, students, and parents to help evaluate what we currently have as tools, which tools are best, and how to shape policy to reflect our changing times and our desire to curb bullying. I hope to have something to bring to the Board by the early Fall.

As a kick off to this task force, Stan Davis and recognized name in Anti-Bullying practices will be holding workshops for administrators, staff, students, and the community on May 24-25. I encourage you to participate if you can. More information will follow on our web site

3. The Big Picture: As many of you know I was able to have a closed door meeting with the Commissioner of Education. This meeting was held with only a small handful other Superintendent's present. Media and photos were not allowed. We spent about an hour and twenty minutes just talking about education. I listened intently, asked a few questions but walked away figuring that much of what was said was going nowhere.

Shortly after the meeting I received a "field-memo" from the Board of Regents explaining proposed changes to the New York State Education system. Most of these changes were things that the Commissioner discussed at the meeting. In my experience if something makes it to a field memo it pretty much is going to happen in some way, shape, or form.

Essentially he told us to prepare to accommodate "nontraditional methods for program completion." These methods include credit recovery (NovaNet), independent study for up to 3 elective credits, credit accrual (no seat time necessary to complete a course but some type of test, etc...), shorter assessments, more computer based assessments, allowing students to graduate as soon as they have completed 22 units of study, virtual schools, and flexibility of certifications (especially in Special Education and Middle Schools). He gave no time line for any of the items but the English 11 Regents exam scheduled for January 2011 will be a day shorter, so I think they mean business.

Should all of these ideas actually be implemented, it is going to change education in New York State in an exciting way. In the hands of irresponsible leaders these changes are dangerous tools to lower standards and push students through the system. I intend to use these tools to help those learners who struggle or who need a different way to complete without sacrificing the high standards that we have for student success.

The high school is experiencing this challenge already with the use of NovaNet. Fortunately they had a good plan when implementation began and they are now making changes as new situations arise. My suggestion to all of us is to be think proactively on the other items that the Commissioner would like to implement, and to create practices, policies, and programs before we are directed to do so. It never hurts to be a PILOT school.

4.  If you are one of the 400,000 million people on Facebook, we have a new Facebook fan page.  It is a pass through for information about the school and events, and it is another great way to stay connected to the school. You can reach the page by going to!/pages/Camillus-NY/West-Genesee-Central-School-District/358918496938?ref=mf .

5.  The fight continues to keep our portion of the sales tax from the county.  Right now the two proposals call for a 75/25 split between the county and city (nothing to the schools) or a three year phase out to schools.  I hope that they choose the phase out if they only have the two choices. Enough said.

Thanks and have a safe and enjoyable break.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

If You Don't Stand for Something, You Stand for Nothing

As we read the papers and watch television lately we are innudated with all of the negative news surrounding school budgets. Each story tells a tale about the philosophy and leadership styles of each of our communities in the county. One theme holds true for us and all of our neighbors, though, and that is the goal of reducing budgets while having the least impact on students. 

In some schools such as ours, the reductions will not impact student programs and services to a great extent next year.  In other districts this is just not possible. It should be understood that as school leaders we do not wake up in the morning and think of ways to reduce programs and staff. As school leaders we are charged with guiding our schools through good times and bad, and this is one of those bad times. 

While you as a reader may not care what toll these decisions are taking on the people making them, I can assure you that the stress caused is incredibly significant.  Whatever opinion one might have about a school leader in any given community, we are still human beings. My hope is that as things begin to turn around, the stress level will decrease. 

Many of you have also read about contracts being re-opened or contracts being negotiated with staff to try and save money. The same will hold for me as well. I intend to walk-the-walk, and I promised my groups that I would not accept a percentage raise greater than what any of our groups are getting. At the end of the day, it is the Board of Education that decides my compensation, but they understand my feelings. 

I was taught long ago that leading by example is more powerful than anything I could say.  I will continue to lead by example.

I will be attending another meeting regarding sales tax, and I will make sure to update you as soon as I return. This issue is significant and will affect us in a very negative way if we cannot retain some portion of what we have been receiving from the county. Your calls and e-mails to legislators about this issue are helpful and have had an impact.  Thank you.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Up to Date

Another busy stretch will hopefully be rewarded by a long weekend. This week we dealt with county Sales Tax meetings, withholdings in State Aid until June (hopefully) and another late State budget. All things we are equipped to deal with, but did you see the word student mentioned anywhere? Didn't think so.

On the positive side we enjoyed a great Art Show, Parade of Champions, National Honor Society induction, and hosted a cool technology forum attended by many schools from around the area. Not bad for a week's work

I am going to charge the batteries this weekend, and I hope that you are able to do the same. Talk to you on the flip side.