Sunday, February 28, 2010

He Shoots, He Scores!

Congratulations to the West Genesee Wildcat Hockey team for commanding the title Section Champions. Hockey is a game of superstition so I will just leave it at that and wish them well in the first round of state level play this weekend.

Kudos also to our swimmers who made the trip to Buffalo to compete in state competition. While some school and state records were broken, we came up just short of a win. I am incredibly proud of the effort and want the swim team to know that it takes me approximately five minutes to get from one end of the pool to the other!

I also want to thank some people who don't play a sport but as a result of their efforts we will be able to keep what we know as West Genesee intact; the teachers. We met informally with the teachers regarding their contract for the next couple of years. They were cooperative and willing to work with us and presented a contract that includes a lot less in compensation in order to save staff. Anyone with a pulse knows that the state economy is in a recession, and we all also know that in the public sector larger percentage raises are the norm when compared to the private sector. The teachers went against their own state level organization in settling with us quickly and for an amount that will allow us to save dollars and staff. This move will allow us to refrain from digging as deep into staff in order to balance the budget. This agreement is unprecedented for the area and will be approved by the Board of Education on Wednesday evening. We are currently working with other bargaining units within the District to help us to continue to walk-the-walk. Thank you!

I will be presenting the first run of the budget on Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m. in the high school library. If you cannot make it don't worry, I will have a video on our web site shortly, as well as all of the print materials regarding the budget.

A question that I have been asked a few times concerns the outdoor lights being on at the turf stadium at the high school. Our turf is our emergency evacuation site for our high school students. We need to keep it plowed and ready in case we need it. After the big storm our crew stayed late a few nights to clear it off instead of coming in for overtime on a weekend. We will also have Spring sports coming up, and you might see the lights on a few nights per week until daylight savings time changes again. Please keep in mind that our energy consumption is down 11% so far this year from last. We recognize that every little bit helps.

On Wednesday during the day I am going to have the unique opportunity to talk about Twitter and Blogging via a web cam and broadcasting software to about 300 members of the New Jersey School Boards Association. Board members nationwide are recognizing the need for transparency in communication and it will be fun to help them to see the power of using this vehicle to get information out to the public.

All for now. Check back this week because I am going to try and make my posts a little more frequent and a little shorter moving forward through the Spring.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Back in Action

I hope that everyone had a restful week. Contrary to popular belief, Superintendents do not get school vacations off, but I did get a chance to travel to NYC the first weekend of break to visit some family. I spent most of the week working on the budget with Mr. Pelton as we prepare for our first public presentation on March 3. I also had some time to organize files and get everything prepared for what is usually for busiest week in February; the week after break.

I am also very proud of the boys Hockey team as they begin to advance through the Sectional process. They are not only showing that they are talented players, but that they are quality young men. Their character shows on the ice and off the ice when they are conducting community service or meeting as a team at a local eatery once a week. Through hard work, dedication, and a fire inside, I feel strongly that these athletes will make a name for themselves in the upcoming weeks.

Several of our Swim team members are also finding success through hard work, character, and determination. A great story about their success can be found here:

Over the weekend I got a chance to attend the outdoor Crunch game and I thought it was fantastic. Jets flying over, a parachute guy landing at center ice, a classic hockey fight, and a goal all happened in the first five minutes of the game. Any hint of feeling bad for myself because of what has been written about me over the past week eroded as well when Governor Patterson was welcomed by the "boo birds". I was definitely glad that my family and I were fortunate enough to be a part of history.

There will be a lot going on for us in the next couple of weeks, and I will keep you posted. CYBA should resume play, arrests will be made, contracts are being negotiated, schedules will begin to be developed, the Commissioner of Education will ask all of us to consolidate or disband services, the Governor's budget will be updated, academic awards and college acceptance letters will begin to flow more freely, and Spring sports will begin. Wow. Stay tuned!


Thursday, February 11, 2010

CYBA Update

I met with the Chief of Police, Town Supervisor, and the leaders of the Camillus Youth Basketball Association (CYBA) Basketball Program this morning to discuss how the CYBA program can resume the season. After much discussion, I am comfortable allowing the program to use our facilities beginning February 22.

CYBA officials will be providing a zero tolerance statement before the remaining games, will have CYBA "Board" members in attendance at the remaining games, and will provide security/police presence the entire day of the CYBA Championships. CYBA officials will reach out to their parents and coaches before February 22 to let them know about their adjusted schedules, etc...

Anyone not arrested or involved in the incident on Monday, February 8, will be allowed into our facilities as the season comes to a conclusion, and it is my hope that the program is able to return to our facilities next Winter stronger and safer.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Rising Above It All...

Good Morning-

Yesterday began with an investigation into a fight that erupted at WGMS during a high school level Camillus Youth Basketball Association (CYBA) game. I was disgusted and disappointed to learn that many people were fighting at one time (coaches, players, and parents) and several law enforcement officials had to be used to get the regain order. We had to provide counseling to a few youngsters who sat helpless in the stands and who were afraid to come to school the next day. Again, a complete disappointment.

While not a school function or activity, CYBA involves people from our community, and I am sickened by the behavior that occurred. The Camillus Police are working hard to determine how many people will be arrested and the types of charges that will be filed. Because I am not convinced that this was an isolated incident I have asked the Town of Camillus to suspend all CYBA activity at all levels immediately until I am confident that the season can be completed safely. I intend to meet with representatives from CYBA over break to try and determine if this season can be completed safely and what mandatory changes will need to be made for next year if the program is to continue in our facilities.

On another more positive note it has been nice to get into classrooms, and I want to publicly thank maintenance for completing all of the Promethean Board installs. They can now go to their "punch list" and repair damaged units and fix some of the odd problems that we are having with a few of the boards. We are fortunate to have them on our side!

The rest of the week will be budget building, negotiations, building visits, and hopefully final layoff notifications (instructional staff, non-instructional layoff notifications have been completed). I hope to end the week with hair left to recede.

Finally and so I don't accidentally miss a good news event (when I mentioned swimming and hockey having success in a previous post I was informed that our cheerleaders won apologies) I am going to create a new e-mail address where people can e-mail their good news, and I can then collect it and get it out to you without omissions. We never want to miss good news!

See you soon and thanks for rising above it all..


Thursday, February 4, 2010

It's Been a Hard Days Night

I am used to long hours, but this week has pushed even my limits! Three or four days in a row of 16-plus hours can make you loopy. We are really trying to get our budget built as quickly and as efficiently as possible and that has taken a tremendous amount of brain power from our top administration and union officials. This has been happening along with all of the other day-to-day events, happenings, issues, and challenges that come with running a school system that is the size of a small city. I am confident that the result of our work will place us in the top 1% of schools, governments, and organizations that "do the right thing" during challenging economic times.

As a side topic that is somewhat budget related, I would like to address our Board policy concerning solicitations. Basically we do not accept solicitations from businesses or outside organizations that are "for profit". This does not mean that we do not have relationships with many of our local businesses; in fact we have developed some great partnerships. These organizations create scholarships for students, donate money and food to our booster organizations, and help us celebrate our successes. Education Law is very strict about businesses advertising in schools and as such we need to continue to work our relationships through our boosters and through scholarships.

A great example is a recent fund-raiser being conducted by our sports boosters with the help of Applebee’s to provide the District with an updated sound system. Our Sports Boosters will be providing information regarding an evening where the restaurant will donate 10% of their profits to the Boosters to be donated to the school for use to purchase a new sound system for our gym. You won't see the company name in future publications, but they will still be able to help us and we as patrons will be able to help them all the same.

I think that everyone knows that we work very closely with the Camillus Police and that I like to communicate through this blog and Twitter. Well, the Camillus Police Department (CPD) is stepping into the digital age to inform the community as well through a web site called It is free to police departments and government agencies and is a great way to keep up to date with the happenings of the CPD. I am exploring it's use for the District along with Twitter as another layer of information for people who like to be in the "know".

Our students have celebrated many successes lately so please keep up with their experiences at I am looking forward to Mame this weekend, the Special Olympics, and the Legislative Breakfast that will be held at our high school on Saturday.

Enjoy the weekend and I will post again next week.