Monday, December 19, 2011

Being Thankful

The week before winter break is always full of many different emotions. There is happiness coming from all of the students, staff, and parents who are fortunate enough to have things going their way. There is frustration and sadness from all of those students, staff, and parents who are coming to the end of a year in which they have lost a job, or maybe a loved one, or things just aren't working out the way they would like.  Trickle in five week reports that are due out shortly. Stir. 

This is the season, no matter what denomination is followed, if any, when the human element really shows. It is critical that all of us as community members recognize that it is what we do when people are not watching that could make all of the difference for a family in need. If you have the time, take the time to do the right thing for someone who needs it.

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the high school "Sleigh Ride" concert. What a treat. I always enjoy this concert because one of my good friends, Santa Claus, shows up to help conduct! Santa also brings snow that falls from the rafters and makes for a wonderful scene. The students bring their "A" game as they always do and perform all kinds of songs. This year they showed just how good they are by playing a seven minute piece by Tchaikovsky that was stunning. Nice work.

Right after break I will begin to post about the status of our budget building, redistricting study (remember the first public meeting is on January 5, at 6:00 p.m. at Stonehedge), and the sale of our wooded lot. I will also give you an update about SchoolTool, a piece of software that we will be using starting September 2012 that will give staff, students, and parents K-12 online or smartphone access to student grades, assignments, schedules, and other important pieces of student information. I am excited about this endeavor.

Please enjoy the week and happy holidays to all.


Monday, December 12, 2011

The ABCs of December....Athletics, Budgets, and Concerts

Normally I would take this space to write about individual and team accomplishments. However, while summarizing all of the successes of our fall athletics programs I came to the realization that there are too many to print in this column! Please take a few moments to travel to our District Facebook page to check out our athletes being honored for each sport.

There is also a great piece about Laura Leff, a cross country runner who received some accolades of her own. She can run about two and a half miles for every one that I can. In summary, many athletes made us and their families proud, and I am sure they would appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to read about their successes and even leave them a note if you have the time.

We continue to closely monitor state and federal budget action (or inaction, I suppose) to make sure that we are in the best position possible to build a fiscally responsible budget. We are in the process of establishing a baseline budget in which we are estimating what the new 2% tax cap might mean. It is quite clear that we will not be able to restore any cuts that we have made, but what is not clear yet is how many more cuts may need to be made to fall within the regulations of the tax cap. Stay tuned.

If you are looking for a relaxing evening out, please join us this Thursday evening in our high school auditorium for our annual holiday concert. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. where our finest players will be singing and performing some of your favorite holiday tunes. Santa Claus has been known to be a guest conductor as well.

Have a great week!


Monday, December 5, 2011

White Lights, Big City

It was great to run into so many of you yesterday as I was going to almost every store in Camillus to find five boxes of white Christmas lights. Of course I had five strings of said lights in a box in the basement that worked perfectly last year, but then did not work when we tried to plug them in this year. Must have been gremlins. Anyway, I did find the lights at the last store I checked (of course) but thank you for being concerned! Decorating resumed and all was well by sundown.

I would like to thank all of the staff and students involved in decorating for and attending the winter semi-formal at the high school over the weekend. The decorations were fantastic (New York City theme), and as I walked down the hallway to the gym I thought I was walking along Fifth Avenue. Inside the gym were approximately 800 students, a DJ spinning tunes (probably playing them from an iPod, but spinning sounds cooler), and the New York City skyline. Very well done and an excellent time was had by all.

We are heading towards the new year which means budget planning (which I will discuss in a future blog) and Strategic Planning. If you are fortunate enough to have a job and your employer actually has a plan that they follow, then you know what it is like to work at West Genesee. We take our strategic planning very seriously with the initiatives and goals that wind up making their way into the plan are completed and are provided resources. It genuinely is our guiding document, and we will begin creating our new document right after the new year.

Our redistricting study is moving right along and our community focus group is coming together. The first official committee meeting will be held on January 5, at 6:00 p.m. in the Stonehedge Library. Members of the public are welcome to attend and will be given a chance to speak at the end of the meeting.

If you are looking for things to do. be sure to check out our website at and check the District events calendar. The main events calendar has academic and fine art curricular events; and our athletic calender has all of our sporting events. All of the winter sports teams so far have had strong starts with the boys basketball team tipping off their season this Friday night at Fowler.

Lastly, and most importantly, I would like to address how we are handling all of the recent news related to the sexual abuse of children. While all of our staff are trained to spot and report abuse, there are times when we all go into a heightened awareness for signs of abuse. This is one of these times. When events like we have been reading and watching about unfold, conversations about the events naturally make their way onto buses, into hallways, cafeterias, locker-rooms, and classrooms.

Penn State and Bernie Fine are not topics included in the New York State Curriculum, so we do not teach or really even weigh in about what we think. We do however become very active listeners in case conversations that students are having turn into conversations that might require the help of counselors or building administrators. You should also listen at home to what your children are saying in the event that these events stimulate them to discuss experiences that they may have had.  I wish we DID NOT have to think about or discuss such things, but unfortunately we do and we are ready and equipped to help.

Have a great week!