Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mid-Summer Update

I hope that you have been able to enjoy some of the weather so far this summer. I know we have had a hot stretch recently but on the positive side I have not had to mow the lawn for four weeks! I will try to do a better job at hiding my excitement about that next time.

We are plugging away here at work on several different things. To keep all of you in the loop I have included all of our projects below with all of the information that I have about them as of today. As we enter August I will be getting back into my normal blog schedule of at least one post per week, so stay tuned and see you around town.

Student Dignity Task Force

Our group last met right before the end of the school year to begin to develop a policy to be used as part of the Dignity For All Students Legislation. We also confirmed that we will be using the Olweus Anti-Bullying Program K-12. This summer Mr. Burns and I have been drafting the sample policy so that the committee can make final edits via e-mail and we can move forward quickly with the policy adoption process when everyone returns this fall. 

Mr. Burns and I are also meeting with Penny Williams who is going to coordinate our training and implementation efforts for the Olweus program. The training process will take this school year to complete and the program will be rolled out for the beginning of the 2012 school year. While this sounds like a long way off, it really isn't considering the state has not fully defined exactly what the program has to contain to meet their mandates.

Modified Sports

As you know, part of our $5.63M in budget reductions for the 2011-2012 school year was $75K in modified sports. The middle schools were scheduled to have one modified team for both middle schools instead of one team for each school. A group of parents, led by John Petosa, is working to raise the $75K necessary to have the full modified slate for this school year and their active efforts have been paying off (no pun intended). They are very hopeful to have enough money raised to save the modified sports teams for the 2011-2012 school year and are fully aware that this will have to continue through at LEAST the 2012-2013 school year because of the tax cap that Governor Cuomo recently put into place.  Actor Alec Baldwin has pledged $25K for the effort as well. People looking to donate to the cause can head to http://www.savemodifiedsportsatwg.com/ for more information.

Tax Cap

The tax cap for the 2012-2013 school year means that we can raise school taxes by 2% or the cost of inflation; which ever is LESS. Right now the cost of inflation is 1.6%. This will mean that we will need to cut AT LEAST another $1M from the 2012-2013 budget (believe it or not we are already working on that budget) in order to stay within the cap. We have been nationally recognized for our innovative cost saving efforts, and we are going to have to continue to make difficult but economy adjusting decisions moving forward. We are working on some ideas that I will share with you, once I am able, that will help to make a significant dent in closing the gap but unfortunately there will be tougher decisions ahead.

Board Candidates

The Board of Education is seeking applicants for an open position with a term that expires at the end of next school year. A letter of interest and/or resume needs to be into Paul Pelton (300 Sanderson Drive, Camillus, NY 13031 or ppelton@westgenesee.org, or 487-4563) by August 12 to be considered for an interview by the Board of Education at their meeting on August 17.


As you might remember, the New York State Education Department charged each school with the task of placing more students on buses, making transportation more efficient, and reducing the number of bus runs.  Jerry Williams in our Transportation Department has been working with his staff to accommodate this directive. We will be using a shuttle system to help transport students attending private and parochial schools, and we also had to change the length of some of our bus runs as well as drop off and pick up points. We are very appreciative for all of you who turned in your transportation request form (we had over 90% of the forms returned) because it really helped us to create bus runs that are reasonable and reliable. 

The transportation staff will be sending a letter home to private and parochial school families shortly inviting them to participate in a "test run" day so that they can see how their children will be transported each day. This "test run" day will be held later in August and we are hopeful that parents participate because we are in a position where we will have limited flexibility to make changes because the New York State Education Department is mandating this rearrangement of transportation services.

School Calendar

Bonnie Russell has done a wonderful job once again on our annual school Events Calendar and Information Guide.  Since we are using our technology resources more and more, this calendar will be one of the very few pieces of paper correspondence that we will be sending out (the online version of the calendar is now available from the home page of the web site or directly at www.calendarwiz.com/westgenesee).  Be on the lookout for the Events Calendar and Information Guide to come home the first day of school with your child and thanks again to Bonnie!