Sunday, March 27, 2011
Last week I had the opportunity to attend Governor Cuomo's budget address held at Syracuse University. At this invite-only event was a small gathering of people. Those in attendance were two superintendents (including me), CEOs and top level administrators from area Universities and hospitals, students from both Syracuse University and the Syracuse City School District, elected officials both past and present, and a sprinkling of "citizens".
Until this presentation, the best public speaker that I have seen has been President Obama. I wouldn't say that Governor Cuomo is a better speaker than the President, but I would say that he is pretty close. He spoke for about forty minutes and laid out a budget plan that calls for job loss, consolidation, and pain and he did so with candor, humor, and just the right amount of fist pounding passion needed to get his point across.
I sunk in my chair a couple of times during his presentation. The first was when he spoke about education and his estimation that there has not been any return on investment in education and that our children are not getting any smarter even though the state keeps giving money. He indicated that schools are not going to get additional money until they prove themselves. He received a loud ovation. He then indicated that superintendents make too much money. Again a rousing ovation. When he finished with his entire speech, outlining changes to all areas, he received a long standing ovation. I walked away from the event with the clarity that people are appreciative of his budget tightening efforts and are ready for change and reform. As a leader I will carry the charge and make things happen, but it will be interesting if the Governor gets the same appreciation when parents see all that will be lost for next year and beyond.
One thing that separates me from others is probably that I do not dwell in negativity. I do not have time for that. I prefer to take the information that I have and make the changes necessary to fit within the parameters that I have been given. I do advocate, make phone calls, and lobby just like every other leader, but I also prefer to make change instead of reacting to change. If you have followed our budget building process you will see this philosophy reflected.
Something that struck me as odd over the past few weeks is being asked why I asked food service workers, custodians, cleaners, and bus drivers to take a wage freeze along with the rest of our employees. I hear that "they don't save enough to make it worthwhile". Everyone matters. When a bus driver gets a cold or I get a cold are they different? Do we shop at the same stores, talk to the same people, attend the same events, and live in the same community? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. Why then, would I not want to include them in our District effort to save jobs and opportunities? We are the West Genesee family, and we do things together. This is more important than money saved any day.
This weekend is the third-annual Culture Fair. We are excited at all of the different cultures that will be featured, and I am really looking forward to the opportunity to interact with many different community members.
Have a great week and I will see you soon.