Monday, March 17, 2014

Trust Communities

What's Up with the Snow Days: Probably the most frequently asked question I have received this week is, "What happens if we have another snow day?"  Right now IF we have to have another emergency closing day, then Thursday, April 17 will become a regular day of school (right now April 17 is scheduled as the first day of spring break.)  It is what it is. This winter has been brutal. Hopefully, we have seen the last of it. So far I have a broken snow blower, a small water spot on a ceiling, and who knows how much yard cleanup. No bueno.

Budget Update: We are still in a budget holding pattern. One thing that I always tell people is that I trust them until they give me a reason not to, and that they should trust me until I give them a reason not to. This has worked very well for many years. The senate released their budget adjustments late last week, and many superintendents expressed outrage in our elected officials. I have a very good working relationship with our elected officials, and to date, NONE of them have misrepresented themselves or told me things that have not ended up happening.

I did place some calls on Friday to get information about the changes being proposed on the state budget from those who helped make the decisions. There are four possible areas for schools to obtain additional funding from the state: pre-kindergarten,  full-day kindergarten, foundation aid, and Gap Elimination Adjustment.

We are not in a position to move forward with a pre-kindergarten program at this point, so that leaves three possible sources of income.

Because of our five year budget plan (we are in year three), we need about 33% more from New York State to balance our budget to keep from making approximately $825,000 in budget reductions.  Most other schools need a 100% or more increase in state funding to do the same thing.

After my conversations on Friday, I DO feel cautiously optimistic that we can hit our 33% mark. I DO trust the information I received and the people I received the information from. In the next two weeks we will know a lot more and if something goes in a different direction, I will let you know.

The pressure that I am receiving comes from Charter Schools and other schools that are going to come up very short. They want us to join them in flooding Albany with calls and letters or assemblies to try to strong arm them into giving more money to education. I am trying to balance this pressure from my colleagues with knowing that our elected officials are probably going to come up with what we need for West Genesee.  I do not know if irritating those officials would damage the relationships that I have and therefore put the district in jeopardy of losing future funding. Tough call. I am supportive of public school education and opportunities for students, but at the same time as a chief executive, I have to do what is best for US first.

No matter what happens this budget year, the writing is on the wall that we are going to have to look at ways to consolidate services, expand partnerships with other schools, and look at other uncomfortable ways to cut costs. The current New York State model is to reward those who spend less. That is the Bottom line. There are only a few ways to do that. The next five to ten years should be really interesting in New York State. As always, we will stay out ahead of these changes so we can make things work best for our community and our students.

Looks like some better weather is in store for this week so enjoy it!