Happy New Year. I hope that the holiday season was joyous and memorable. I enjoyed spending time with my family over the holiday; we had a sleepover Christmas Eve, a real highlight this holiday season. Now that the winter weather season is upon us, be sure to check our website for delays and closings on those questionable days. We also make a Connect Ed call to homes and submit all the details to the local TV and radio stations.
Our students throughout the district returned from break with a new focus and energy on learning. For the high school and middle school students they look forward to mid-term assessments and a new schedule for the second semester. The elementary school staff continue to align instructional practices with the Learning Standards, and continue to look at common assessments to monitor progress.
The district will observe Martin Luther King Day on Jan. 16. There will be no school for students and staff that day. In addition, there will be no school for our high school and middle school students Jan. 27. This will be a rating day, with the regents and midterm held the week after. Staff will complete assessment scoring, grading and participate in professional development. Our elementary students will be in attendance Jan. 27.
We are already planning for the third annual Unified Sports Basketball program. This program is sponsored by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association and the Special Olympics. Teams will form in March and practices will begin in April. Each team will consist of students with special needs and student partners with matched skill and ability. The games will be played using the NYSPHSAA rules, and a culminating event will liken a sectional championship. If you would like more information about the program you can find a link on the Monroe County Athletic Association website. We are looking forward to another great season of play.
The Youth Activation Committee students from our many service organizations that include student government, National Honor Society, peer leaders and others will be participating in a YAC Summit on Jan. 27. They will be joined by student groups from 20 plus school districts here in Monroe County.
Our winter athletes have prepared for the season and started their competitions in December. Schedules for the many events can be located on the district website. We hope you will plan to cheer our athletic teams on representing boys and girls basketball, bowling, cheerleading, indoor track and field, boys swimming and wrestling. Best wishes to our student athletes and families for a successful season.
We are already preparing for our next cohort of Universal Prekindergarten students, be sure to check the website for updated information regarding UPK applications due in April. We anticipate adding additional classrooms for the 2017-18 school year, so be sure to complete your application soon.
It is a real pleasure to announce that the musical, “The Music Man,” is coming to Gates Chili in March. The cast is set, and the students are already rehearsing and planning for another successful program this year. Dates and times for each show can be found on our district website. More information regarding this will be forthcoming.
In addition, our partnership with Rochester Broadway Theatre League continues to grow and flourish. Our students are engaging in inquiry units aligned to “The Sound of Music” and “Wicked.” Students and staff, districtwide, are embracing this program that allows for theater, music and the arts to be integrated into the curriculum, standards and instruction. An exciting season of learning awaits.
Building a school district budget has become a year-round practice. We are already looking at the 2017-18 budget process based on preliminary projections that impact almost 75 percent of the total budget, these include salaries, health insurance and retirement benefits, along with the district’s debt service. James Fichera, interim assistant superintendent of business, has brought his expertise as a retired business official to help build the budget. We review each area of our current budget to examine areas in which we can find cost cutting strategies that will allow for us to stay within the tax cap levy limit while maintaining the programs that define the success of the district. Budget updates are planned for each of our board meetings and coming in February and March are annual Public Hearings that outline each of the three components of the budget-Administrative, Capital and Program. Your input and feedback is important, so please do not hesitate to contact the Central Office with ideas and/or suggestions regarding the balancing of our 2017-18 budget.
The board facility and finance committee continues to review the building condition survey to determine what areas are priority for improvement and to define the scope of the district’s next capital project. The committee will be presenting to the full board of education Jan. 10 the opportunity to present a capital project proposal to voters in May. More information will be communicated as plans become more defined.
The board of education meets with select students and families during the first semester to hear what they have to say about our district and how we can improve. They have met with our high school students and families, along with our 2016 graduates on Jan. 3. They will meet with our middle school students and families in late January. We thank all that have participated; we value and appreciate your comments and suggestions.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter @gateschilisupt. It is a great way to see and hear all the things happening district wide. Other places to visit on our website include the Gates Chili Education Foundation and the district’s 60th anniversary link. Save the date for two special events coming in March and April. Spartans on Parade are still available for purchase along with apparel to help us celebrate this anniversary. Be sure to check out the many other programs and initiatives in place. Your support is invaluable as it takes a village to help our children succeed.
Best wishes for a healthy and safe January. It is a real honor to be serving the Gates Chili Central School District as the superintendent of schools. Thank you.