Monday, February 13, 2012

The Hills Are Alive

Well, they were alive with The Sound of Music over the weekend at the high school. The student performers did a wonderful job, and the crew and the "pit" were equally outstanding. What is always great about our performances is that the musicians in the pit are so talented that their playing allows us to focus on the stage and watch the amazing actors and actresses. Tremendous talent, and thanks for letting me escape from work for a few hours! (I saw the Saturday afternoon performance.)

Saturday morning, the majority of our Board of Education and I attended the Legislative Breakfast that was held at Baldwinsville High School. I have attended about a dozen of these events over the years, and this is the first time that I have ever seen students and parents from around the county address the elected officials who were present and really emphasize that they do not want to lose any additional opportunities in their schools. Board of Education members and superintendents echoed those feelings, and the elected officials received the messages loud and clear.

The difficulty for elected officials, superintendents, Boards of Education, and students is that everyone realizes that the resources are not available at the state level to "fix" what is happening. Everyone also realizes that the decisions necessary to adjust to the loss of resources are unpopular as well.  This "perfect storm" creates a mix of emotions, but it also gives ample opportunity for everyone to demonstrate leadership skills.

The 1930's and early 1970's are two great examples of times in our history when the chips were down, adjustments were made, and we recovered. In both situations, things looked differently in the end but somehow we still moved forward and continued to excel as a state and a nation. Those times weren't easy, but those leaders before us got the job done, and so will we. 

My personal feeling is that while we should spend brain power advocating to keep things the way that they are today, we should spend more brain power planning ahead and recognizing that we are cycling out of a time that has created a "new normal". Adapt and overcome. We will need to adjust and make the difficult choices that are necessary in education that will keep as many opportunities as possible while helping those who pay for those opportunities so that their quality of life is not negatively impacted by the cost of education.

At West Genesee we have made those choices and decisions over the past three years, and we are now creating a budget that represents the "new normal" for West Genesee. The past is going to have to be the past, and we have respected all that we have been able to offer. As we define the future, and that future will represent budgets that tax within the new "tax cap", our District will still provide as many opportunities as possible for our children. 

You will have to decide if you want to support this direction when you are asked to vote on the budget in May. The residents of our community have demonstrated their leadership capabilities in the past when asked to support our plans, and we will continue to be appreciative and respectful of that leadership as we move ahead.  I will post much more about the budget and what the tax cap actually means for West Genesee later this week.

Last week we held our third redistricting meeting, and again it was very productive.  The consultants presented the following set of slides click here to open or download the presentation which included a possible attendance boundary reconfiguration. The committee took the possible reconfiguration and created lists of pros and cons that the consultants will include for the next meeting that will be held on March 8 (location to be announced). Two decisions were made at the meeting: whatever reconfigurations are proposed none of them will ask elementary school students from one elementary school to split up and attend different middle schools;  that any re-configurations will include capacity for full-day Kindergarten. Again, a great meeting and I am looking forward to March 8 for the next meeting. 

Have a wonderful week. It looks like we could have some questionable weather (it is about time), so make sure to stay tuned to your local weather, our new and improved website and my Twitter account