Monday, September 27, 2010

Week in Review

Last week was a good week. Aside from all of the negative news coming out of Albany, it was an absolute joy to visit and attend all of the open houses. While parking was a challenge, it is a good problem to have. It means that attendance and participation are high. An involved family usually means favorable results. Parent involvement is incredibly appreciated by me personally, as well as our staff. The last open house of the Fall is this Thursday at West Genesee Middle School.

I also had the pleasure of speaking to the students in the high school on Friday. I wanted to thank them for their behavior, attitudes, and effort since I have been the superintendent. I spoke to them about keeping up what they have been doing. Because of their efforts, the respect and responsibility traits that they really need to be successful in our community have returned and they are seeing the benefits. We are realizing increased job opportunities from local businesses, increased scholarships from local organizations, and ease in working with our immediate neighbors. They have also noticed that no additional rules have been added to the high school in three years; again because of their commitment to the cause. I really enjoy all of our students and spending time with them always defines the best part of my work day.

Yesterday was the Race for Respect.  We had a great turnout once again and I think that I saw almost every breed of dog and every possible age-group of people!  Thanks for participating and see you again next year.

Lastly, you might have also noticed that our Marching Band has been challenged recently. Adversity brings out character. Our Marching Band staff and students know what it takes to work through adversity and they have unparallelled character. Both traits will be on display throughout the rest of the season and the Carrier Dome in a couple of months. Stay tuned.

All for now.  I will check back later in the week.  Have a good start to the week and see you around.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Happy Second Week!

Another successful week and as usual, lots of stuff going on. First, at the state level they have already cut our state aid this year. We don't know exactly how much less we specifically will receive, but they have given the go ahead to cut both school aid and STAR, another area of revenue for the District. I am confident that our budget plan will accommodate these cuts, but I am longing for the day when we can just have a regular school year.

Speaking of the economy, check out this morbid look at unemployment rates around the country  It is a time lapse look at unemployment across the country that you can watch unfold as a movie. Good times. I hope it gets bad reviews!

Now on to some pleasant news. First of all, I really enjoyed myself at the various open houses around the District.  Not only did I get so see hundreds of parents, I ran into a guy that lived in the same dorms as me during undergrad at Buffalo State College. As some of you know, I used to work undercover security for K-Mart that used to be in Western Lights Plaza when I was in high school.  I met the State Trooper who used to help me "book" shoplifters and he and I also used to work out together at the same gym. Two people that I had not seen in over 20 years and I see them both in one night! Small world.

This week we also learned that Steve Frank, one of the coolest music teachers and musicians that I have ever met, has  been selected to be inducted into the SAMMY's (Syracuse Area Music Award) Hall of Fame as a Music Educator. For more information please check out the Syracuse New Times. Well done!

In an effort to do as much as we can for our students with disabilities, I met with Professor Alan Foley from Syracuse University. We had a great conversation about how we can provide the latest and most appropriate assistive technology for our students. We are going to begin the process of creating an articulation agreement where we will work exclusively with the University and have our children involved in a "Matching Technology" project that will connect our staff, students, parents, and graduate students.  This is long overdue and I am excited to move this project forward.

Also this week, we were able to negotiate with  Lowes and Benderson Development (thanks Paul Pelton and John Driscoll for the leg work) to get access to the back parking lot at Lowes and to cut a hole in the fence and create a pedestrian walkway to our back ball fields. We hope to have this completed by the Spring so that spectators can get easier access to our varsity fields in back of the high school. This is a complete 180 from Lowes' stance last year and I am appreciative of their change of heart.

Lastly, for this week I would like to feature our Boys Varsity Soccer Program.  In high school athletics it is rare to see such a turn around of a program without a huge switch in players. Our soccer team has struggled with winning, attitude, and representation in the past. In 8 short months, and with the help of our new coach Al Loucks, our soccer team is representing themselves, their parents, and our community.  They are on the road to victory but more importantly, they are on the road to respect.  They have a big game on Monday, September 20, at 7:00 p.m. on our grass stadium against FM. I know that soccer is not popular in the United States but respect and responsibility are. If you can make it for even the first half or part of the game I know that the boys would greatly appreciate it. This is not meant in any way to take the spot light off of all of our other successful programs, but a positive change this drastic must be noted.

If you have taken the time to read all of this; thank you!  I know I can be long winded sometimes, but there is so much going on that I feel you should know that sometimes it takes a few paragraphs to do it!

Have a great weekend and thanks for the continued support.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Here We Go!

Another school year!  For some parents a time to place their most precious jewel on a school bus for the first time. For others, a time to send their senior to school for their last year in high school. I am a parent with kids in the middle of the journey. This is my eleventh start of school as superintendent and each one has been unique in its own way.

This year is also a time for me to look back. This is the beginning of my third year in the District. I am proud to be your leader, and I am also proud of what our staff and community have been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time. 

By way of statistics, the wealth of our District has dropped 5%, and we have had a 113% increase in students needing free or reduced lunch. Also during this time our completion rate, or percent of students finishing high school, has increased by nearly 3% to an all time high of 91%. What this tells us is that we are providing the correct services to our children, and we will continue to find those winning combinations so that our children can continue to be successful.

Because of the economy, we also realize that many people in our community need job retraining. Our Adult Education Program is here to help people to be retrained. We are also accepting credit cards for the first time, and you will find more information on that and the new online registration process from our web site at

I could go on and on but I need to get into classrooms.  Again, I am very excited for this year, and I want you to know that we will take the very best care of your children.

See you soon and thank you for your continued support.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Justin Bieber Effect

Justin Bieber is not "on my iPod", nor will he ever be, but he certainly is on the iPod's and in the hearts of many of our students. When his show had to be postponed from Sunday evening to tonight, you could hear the cries from Geddes all the way to Camillus Middle School. How could Justin change his concert to tonight? Does he not know that tonight is locker night at both of our middle schools?  Locker night actually ends at 6:00 p.m., but his concert starts at 7:00 p.m. so students who have tickets (and their parents) are somewhat uptight about getting to locker night and then making it to the concert on time.

If you find yourself in this position do not fear. You can call either middle school and they will accommodate your locker visit for Thursday or Friday. Mr. Bieber should recognize the impact of his decisions in the future!

While I am not here to tell you that there won't be a tax rate increase for this year, I am here to tell you that the actual tax rate that was recently set is lower than the rate that we projected by nearly a whole percent.  This is good news in a bad news environment.

You might notice a path being built from our back parking lot at the high school to both of our upper fields.  This is the best solution we have thus far to try and help people (especially the elderly and those with wheelchairs) to get access to the fields. Unfortunately, this is going to be the best we can do for now. There is a major waterline under ground (about 4' in diameter), and we are prohibited from operating heavy machinery in that area which is preventing us from establishing a larger parking lot closer to the fields. 

We are also trying to work with Lowes and Benderson Devlopment to obtain access to the parking lot behind Lowes and also create a path along the back part of our bus parking area to get closer access to the fields as well.  Lowes has given us tentative permission to use the parking lot, but we have not yet been successful with Benderson Development to allow us to pop a small hole in their fence to give us access to the bus parking area. Hopefully we can make this happen by the Spring when we really need it.

If you received a paper copy of The Communicator and you think it looks different you are correct. Our publications coordinator is trying to find ways to keep the newsletter pleasing to the eye and cheaper to produce. We were not completely satisfied with the appearance of the newsletter this month, but we will find the right combination of paper, fonts, and colors.  Thank you for your patience while we re-tool our look.

We are 99% ready for students at this point. The finishing touches are being applied to each building and I am very excited for another successful school year. As always, if you want the most up-to-date information and you don't want to hear my voice just check, Twitter at or our Facebook fan page by clicking here, or from the icon located on the web site home page. 
Our first home football game is this Friday night versus Baldwinsville and several of our other Fall sports teams have already begun competition as well. The Marching Band also did a great job at the "Preview" last Friday night. Go Wildcats!