Monday, August 31, 2015

Look for the Positives

Connecting with the Community at the State Fair: Well my New York State Fair diet is in full stride. I think I am going to turn into a Gianelli sausage if I eat any more of them, not to mention that I have had more ice cream in the past week than I have had all year.

I want to give a big THANK YOU to all of the parents, employees, community members, and students that my wife and I have run into at the Fair. It has been really challenging to adjust to our new "empty nest" at home, so the Fair has been our refuge of sorts. Everyone we have seen (and I am talking dozens of people) have been so complimentary of the District, our school community and our vision; that it is very humbling and fills me with great pride. Thank you for all that YOU do to support our students!

The Positives Out Weigh the Negatives -- It isn't hard to find negativity. Just turn on the news or open your favorite news app and you will find articles and stories that make you want to stay in your house and never come out. Have no fear, because I am going to share many positives that have happened right under our noses this summer!

Wildcat Marching Band Preview: The stands were packed on our turf field as our Marching Band showed off a good portion of their upcoming show, Bugs. If you missed it, Bill Davern, our Director of Fine Arts, broadcast the majority of it on the smartphone app called Periscope. You can download the app and follow him (and me), then you can go back and view the performance. I am really excited for the upcoming Marching Band season.

Replacing Old Instruments: Sticking with the Fine Arts program, I have been working with Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli about obtaining some funding to help replace musical instruments that are old, outdated, worn, and damaged. We have created a three-year plan to replace the dozens of instruments that need to be replaced for a total investment of $168,000.

The Assemblyman and I met recently to discuss the plan, and he was able to help us with $150,000 of that project meaning we will be able to complete our three-year replacement plan in one year with no impact to our taxpayers. With the 50th anniversary of the Marching Band right around the corner, this grant from the Assemblyman will come in very handy. I would call that a positive.

Supply Drive is a Success: On Saturday, community member and volunteer Deb Troiano did it again. She coordinated for the West Genesee PTA/PTO District Council a community effort to collect school supplies for our needy families. They raised enough money and supplies to help over 95 local families that included 200 children.

That is an incredible but necessary undertaking, and she deserves credit for organizing supply drives, enlisting adult and student volunteers, and creating a process that is seamless, confidential, and fulfilling to families in need. As one parent told me, "Mrs. Troiano's work helped ease the stress of the start of school and she can now concentrate on helping her child to become adjusted to school." Thanks again to the District Council and especially to Deb! I would call that a positive.

Saving for the Turf Field: Two years ago the community authorized the school to start a "savings" account to replace our existing turf field when the time comes. Having a savings account takes all of the emotion out of replacing the turf and also ensures that there is no tax impact when the time comes. Our turf gets used a LOT.

Our existing turf has two to three years left before we need to replace it, but through responsible budgeting and planning we have enough in that savings account to replace the turf when the time comes without any impact on our local taxpayers.

We are actually in the beginning stages of pricing out what it would cost to convert our other grass field at the high school to turf so our Marching Band, athletes, and community members can use the field(s) longer and to eliminate the grass maintenance costs. We also think it might be possible to do this conversion with no tax impact. We will keep you posted. I would call that a positive.

I have many more positives to share but you get the picture. This week your homework is to try to find as many positive things as you can and bring them to the dinner table to share them as part of your conversations. Leave the negativity for another day. Enjoy the week!