Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Money Trail

Good Morning-

If you are following school budgets you have recently heard two things. For starters, you have heard that New York State has "won" Race to the Top funding from the Federal Government. You have also heard that schools are set to receive additional funds through the Federal Jobs Fund. You would think that this would mean loads and loads of cash for schools and that we are out of the woods financially. While the infusion of money will be helpful, it is important to explain just exactly how much money we are talking about.

With the Race to the Top funding West Genesee stands to gain approximately $75K of the $700M that is being made available to New York State. That $75K MUST be used to pay for programming, materials, equipment, or supply items that work toward the Race to the Top goal of increasing student achievement through accountability and use of data. My opinion would be that even though we are only receiving $75K, the new Commissioner David Steiner really needs the State's share of the money to advance his goals for increased student achievement and I can't fault him for working every angle he can to make that happen.

The Federal Jobs Fund, or whatever title you will hear it called, is money being made available from the Federal government to help, again, with preventing layoffs in schools. A quick uneducated glance at the money being made available to West Genesee indicates that we might receive as much as $1.7M in additional funding. A closer study of the figures shows that the estimates that the state is using for transportation and BOCES aid (two types of aid categories that can be accurately tracked) are over-estimated for our District. We are concluding that we will probably receive approximately $700K in additional state aid when all is said and done. We had projected to receive an additional $500K in revenue this year which makes our projection "whole" and will leave us with approximately $200K-$300K in additional revenue that we will be using to pay for support personnel that we have had to add as a result of the Commissioner's new "cut-score" initiative. 

If for some reason we receive more than we have calculated, we will factor that money in for next year so that we can try to avoid any additional non-enrollment related layoffs.

Diligence, sound fiscal planning, and being realistic will continue to help us to navigate our fiscal challenges.

Enough of that boring stuff; time to go watch some Fall practices and Marching Band!


Friday, August 13, 2010

Almost "Go" Time!

As I headed back into town the other day on 690, I noticed that the "Fair Parking" signs are up which means that one of my favorite summer time activities is right around the corner and so is the start of school (not that school isn't one of my favorite activities either!). 

People have asked me if I have had a good Summer. I have had a great Summer. Because I began my superintendent career at such a young age (29), my family and I really have not had the opportunity to travel. This summer we were afforded the opportunity to get as far west as we have ever been; Chicago.  What a cool city. One of the museums had a full size steam locomotive, Boeing 727, and lunar module in it.  The aquarium has an "Asian Lung Fish" that was brought to Chicago for the World's Fair in 1930 and is still alive today. Definitely a worthwhile trip.

This Summer has also been the busiest work wise that I have had in my career. With the uncertainty of the state budget, the changes in assessment scores, and the downsizing that we are trying to accommodate, we have had our hands full.

This is also the Summer where we need to conduct a five year facility plan. This plan is mandatory and has to be completed every five years (hence the name!). An architect walks through each building and helps us to determine what needs to be fixed, updated, brought up to code, etc...  Once the plan is completed (sometime early 2011 would be my best guess) the Board of Education has to decide if we want to take care of the items listed on the plan through a Capital Improvement Project. I will keep you up to date on that as we work through the plan.

We are also going to assemble our anti-bullying task force shortly. I have spent some time this Summer reading and researching different programs. The best idea is just to treat others how you would like to be treated but if we did that a lot of people selling programs to stop bullying would be out of work and the economy would be in worse shape than it already is!

This will also be the year that we really study the concept of full-day kindergarten. We will be looking to see if we can begin and run a program without adding to our facilities first and if that is not possible, we will determine what it would take and cost facility-wise to make it happen. Full-day kindergarten is a touchy subject. There are organizations and schools in our community that depend on their own full day programs, and I am extremely sensitive to that. We hope to be able to present something to the Board for consideration by the end of the school year.

I am getting excited to begin the school year but not before we enjoy the rest of this summer!