Monday, January 27, 2014

Half-Way Home

What Defines the Number of Days in a School Year? Mid-term exams are upon us which means that we are about half-way home for this school year. Time has flown by and I am really happy with what I am seeing in classrooms this year. I know that some people are concerned about the number of emergency closing days that we have had to use so far this year.  To dispel any rumors about us having to use spring break for classes if additional snow days are needed, we do have two emergency closing days left that we can use without impacting a vacation time (they might impact other days on the schedule, but time will tell).

By contract our students need to be scheduled for 183 days. New York State indicates that the minimum number of student contact days can be 177. We have had four emergency closing days and that is why we have two left, if absolutely necessary.  I should also note that these two remaining days will not be given back at Memorial weekend because we like to keep student contact days at West Genesee to a minimum of 180 days, and we are already below that number. I will know more as we leave winter behind and head into the spring.

There is a Chill in the Air: This week is supposed to be very cold once again. Please remember that we use a regular temperature of -6 and a windchill of -25 when we discuss delays and closures. Hats, gloves, and coats make great accessories this time of the year. As always, parents have the right to keep their children home if they feel the conditions are too inclement.  If we are open, it means that I am comfortable with my own child being on our school buses, driving himself, or driven by friends to and from school.

Wildcat Joins the 1,000 Club: Girls basketball player Melissa Fumano had an awesome week. She became only the third Wildcat to score 1,000 points. She joins Alyssa Sutherland (2009) and Kelly Knapp (1990). Congratulations!

Musical at the High School: You know who is under a lot of pressure right now? The Guys and Dolls cast and crew. Just like the Marching Band the expectation of the High School musical is that it will be of such high quality that people will walk away feeling that what they saw and heard was better than professional musicals held downtown. The four emergency closing days impacted their practice sessions and they are now really energized to put together the type of show that we have all come to expect.

I made sure to reserve my balcony tickets!  Show times are 7:00 p.m. on February 6 and 7, and 2:00 p.m. on February 8, 2014.  Seats for all three shows are reserved and are $12 each.  You can purchase presale tickets online by going to our ticketing site.  Just type in "West Genesee" in the search bar and you can select your exact seat.  You can also call the Ticket Call Center at 1-800-514-3849, ext. 4. Tickets can also be purchased at the door. We are truly fortunate to have the talent we have. Click here for more information about the show.

Academic Decathlon Team Moves on to State Competition: On Saturday, January 25 the West Genesee High School Academic Decathlon Team came in third place behind Cazenovia High School and Westhill High School. All three teams will go on to compete at the NYS competition in March. Congratulations!

Governor's Budget is Unveiled: On a broader note, I want you to know that the Governor's budget presented last week includes a substantial increase to schools, on paper. Unfortunately, due to our academic success and lack of extreme poverty we will not qualify for much of the money that the Governor is making available.

A quick preliminary look at our budget shows us about $1.7M from being balanced. We are waiting for our elected officials to take a hard look at the budget and see if they can get some of the allocated money into areas that all schools can benefit from.  In the next two weeks, I will provide you with an update about any budgetary changes or reductions that we will have to make for next school year.

Tax Exemption for Our Veterans: The Governor also approved a new tax exemption for our veterans. Before this action, veterans received a reduction on their county, town, and village taxes. With the governor's action, schools can now opt to also give veterans a break on their school taxes.  The discussion surrounding this is very interesting.

A school can choose not to give the exemption, give the exemption at the county level, or give the exemption at another level (all outlined in the bill of law). We did some quick math and if the district adopts the county level exemption for example, non-veterans in our District will pay $52 per $100,000 of assessed home value in increased tax rate BEFORE we create our budget for next year.  Since I have been here in 2008 our tax payers have paid approximately $12 more on their school tax bill, so this would certainly be a change. West Genesee also has the lowest tax rate in the county compared to similar schools, and we have the sixth lowest tax rate in the state.

Personally speaking, I would pay that increase in a heartbeat because of my feelings about veterans and also because I am not on a fixed income. The Board of Education will hold a Public Hearing on February 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the high school library to discuss this issue. I will certainly keep you posted as this exemption is discussed in more detail.