Tuesday, January 2, 2018

New Beginning?

Happy New Year! I hope all of you were able to celebrate, spend some time with family and friends, and relax over the holidays. My breaks are kind of weird and my schedule gets thrown off. There are no classrooms to visit (well, I could visit them, but they would be empty), and much of my time is spent getting my desk cleared off, planning for the late winter and spring, and following all of the holiday tournaments that have become a staple in High School USA.

I did get to do some cool things though. We welcomed a new niece (and I get to see and hold her at the end of the month), saw Star Wars (I really liked it) and Jumanji (surprisingly fun) with friends and one of my kids, and celebrated the new year with my wife, close friends, and my other son. The older I get the more I realize that holidays are much less about getting things and much more about the time spent with the people you care about most. Also, congratulations to the Buffalo Bills for making the playoffs. The last time the Bills won a playoff game, I was there and my kids were not born yet. Ugh.

Mid-Year Review: It is challenging for me to do a "year in review" because my work "year" starts July 1 and ends June 30. As I read the many posts about new beginnings, weight loss, staying in shape, and all of the other resolutions (mine is to shut my personal Facebook page down for a month), it creates conflict in my head. We are almost exactly halfway through the school year and January through March are really grinding kind of months. 

Historically, adults are a little crankier this time of the year because of the cold, holiday bills, and overcast skies. Students are a little scratchy because they cannot get outside for recess as often, seniors are applying for colleges, internships and are making decisions about their futures (which is more stressful for them than one might think), and their courses are either going well or need improvement, and the "don't worry mom and dad, it will be fine" time is getting tight, especially for half-year courses. All in all, not a real "new beginning".

We are going to work hard this winter to change that, by challenging the norm. We are going to hold some upbeat assemblies with great speakers, organize some pep rallies and spirit weeks, and keep the mood positive. The sun and warmer weather will be here before too long, and it never hurts to remember and recognize how good things are.

Planning for the Future: In planning for the rest of the winter and school year, we prepped for "Strategic Planning", did some preliminary budget work, and began to sort through the feedback results from Thought Exchange (which I hope to get out to you this week). 

School budgets should be interesting this year. The stock market is doing really well and the tax reform plan is scheduled to provide some income tax relief (but check with your accountant on that), so you would think that building school budgets should be a snap. Nope.

Interestingly, most of the large ticket, fixed-cost pieces of a school budget (retirement system payments, worker's compensation premiums, and health insurance premiums) are scheduled to have larger than normal increases that schools will have to wrestle with. On top of that, the Governor has stated that New York State is over $4Billion short in their revenue, and have told schools not to be planning for increases in state aid. Fun!

We will be within the "tax cap" as always and will make sure that taxpayers qualify for any rebates that they have been receiving, but the road to get there will be a little more challenging than one would think in an "up" economy. It is what it is. Bring it on!

Sad News: Lastly, we were saddened to learn over the break about the tragic and brutal murders of two adults and two children in Troy, NY. One of the victims was a former West Genesee High School student named Brandi Mells. She attended from ninth through eleventh grade and I remember her very well. She had an outgoing, large personality and always had people's attention when she spoke. I am hoping that a thorough investigation can bring some sense to what seems like a senseless act of violence. Simply awful, and another life taken much too early.

Thank you for reading and for your unwavering support, and let's have a great January!