Monday, July 29, 2013

Getting Ready

Working During Summer: After hearing the Marching Band begin practice this week and watching our lady Wildcats participate in the John Pepper Lacrosse Classic over the weekend, one thing is for sure; I want the school year to start. I work all year so after the last day of school when the students go home for the summer my life becomes surrounded by adult school issues.

While I am plenty experienced to know what that entails, the best balance for me is during the school year when I can deal with adult issues and then visit with students in classrooms and at events. It is about this time of summer that I always realize how much I miss having the students around. So while I know many would like summer to continue forever, I will be really happy to see everyone when they return!

Schooltool Summer Maintenance: We are ready to receive our first full-day Kindergarten classes, and we have finished all of our preparations for redistricting. One of the growing pains we had this summer had to do with our student management program called Schooltool. Since this is our first full year using the program K-12, we did not know that the scheduling function was visible to parents while the computer rolls the school year over. This meant that some parents who happened to visit Schooltool might have seen a teacher listed with their child and those decisions are no where near final.

We are still hiring for some positions and our elementary and middle school principals do not return from their summer vacations until August 7, so their master schedules have not been started in most cases. Live and learn on our part! As a result we have temporarily taken Schooltool down until all of these changes have been made. We will alert everyone when we are ready to fire it back up, which should be around the middle of August.

Full-Day Kindergarten: I am excited for this full-day Kindergarten class. The class that graduated this year represented a complete cycle for me, as I became a superintendent when they were in Kindergarten. If all goes well with my health, work, and support from you, I will take this incoming Kindergarten class through graduation, and I will retire as they graduate. Sounds like a long time away, but it really isn't. I would be really proud to have had the opportunity to bring two groups of students through a complete K-12 education cycle in my career as a superintendent. Pretty cool stuff.

Transportation Update: While redistricting and full-day Kindergarten are in place and ready for us, we are still scheduling transportation for our middle school students who will now have a period of time at the end of the day called "interaction time".

We sent our transportation pick up notices out about five weeks earlier than normal so our transportation department can work out all of the details. We have received some calls and e-mails from middle school parents regarding student pick-up times being much earlier than we had advertised to them in the spring. These times will change after the first few weeks of the school year.

Why and how?  You have to remember that our transportation department has to initially create bus stops for 4,896 students attending West Genesee schools, and bus stops for 300 other West Genesee students attending area private and parochial schools, including BOCES. We have 88 school buses that cover about 90 square miles per day and just under one million miles per year. We have tried unsuccessfully in the past to have parents let us know if they do NOT need transportation for their children, so we initially have to schedule for ALL students.

After the first few weeks we will know who truly needs a ride and who does not, and all pick up times will then be adjusted.  Our historical experience has been that of the over 5,000 students that we schedule pick-ups for, we end up providing transportation for approximately 3,000 students.Thank you for your patience.

Again I am very excited to get this school year started.  My blog posts will get back to once per week, and I am going to start using my Twitter again more regularly after next week. Thanks and see you soon!