Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy Monday!

Happy Monday to all! This has been a great first stretch back from break and as I visited all of the classrooms it really seems like the students are ready to buckle down and get to work.

I have been asked by quite a few people what I thought about the Governor’s State of the State Address that was given last week. I can tell you that I expected him to blast education (I had been told ahead of time) in terms of dollars spent versus results; and he delivered. I was pleased, however, that he is going to spend some time appointing a commission to take a look at efficiencies and mandates. I am in favor of ANYONE who can take a look at schools in general and recommend more ways to be efficient without sacrificing any additional student opportunities. I consider myself to have an eye towards efficiency, so I am interested to see what a group of outside people come up with.

Most importantly, the Governor did NOT indicate that he was going to cut state aid to schools any deeper. He did indicate that increases may be tied to performance, and I will have to see how that is structured before I could comment on that. If aid remains at least flat, West Genesee could actually see the beginning of the “new normal” that we have been planning for over the past three years.

We have made substantial reductions in every area over the past two years, while at the same time we have kept a watchful eye three to five years ahead. If everything lines up, we might be able to create some budgets where reductions are more enrollment-based than economy-based, and then we can begin to restructure around what we have lost, as opposed to planning to lose more things. Imagine if that happened. The next month or so will really paint that picture for us.

Last Thursday night we held our first redistricting meeting and it was very well attended. About 100 people joined Bill Silky and Alan Pole as they guided the committee through guidelines as to how the study will be conducted, walked them through current enrollment information, as well as a quick look at current District boundaries. The next meeting will be on February 2 at West Genesee Middle School at 6:30 p.m.

The purpose of the study is to balance enrollment at each elementary school and both middle schools, and to see if there is a way to balance socio-economics at every school as well. A by-product of the study will also be to see if we can accommodate full day Kindergarten.

People were a little hung up on the socio-economic consideration and without the committee having all of the data yet, I completely understand. Balancing enrollment is important but equally important is trying to balance all students and all needs in each building. This will help us to have equal services and opportunities in each building, provide comparable training to staff (many who travel between buildings), and assure that every student entering 9th grade has had the same experiences and the same educational opportunities. I personally see this as a key piece if we want to really get serious about having our graduates be more college and career ready than they already are. A copy of the presentation can accessed by clicking here; and a link to some of the press coverage related to the meeting can be found here

Have a wonderful week!