• Mrs. Galenski
     
    From the desk of:
    Mrs. Andrea L. Galenski
    Superintendent of Schools
    Cheektowaga-Sloan UFSD
      
    District Clerk/Secretary: 
    Dawn Kross
    (716) 891-6402 
  • Summer 2018 Updates

    Posted by Mrs. Andrea L. Galenski on 7/19/2018

    It is with sincere hope that the initial part of summer with family and friends has already brought more connectedness, enjoyable experiences and special memories. The beginning of summer for us has brought warmth and enjoyment as our Summer Feeding Program began for the first time in our District and has already proven to be successful for our students and their families.  It began on July 9th and we were able to serve sixty students lunch.  Our students have been respectful, appreciative and are able to eat a healthy lunch each day while spending time on the grass and in the park right here in the Village of Sloan.  We are grateful that our students are benefitting from this program that we put in place to support our children and their families.

    At this time of year, it is always important for me to express my sincere gratitude for your partnership with all of us here in the Cheektowaga-Sloan School District.  As a result of the continued work that we do both here at school and with your support at home, we had a successful 2017-2018 school year filled with abundant learning opportunities for all learners and lasting memories for students, staff, families and our community. 

    It is also important for me to take this opportunity to recognize our entire school community for your continued support with passing our 2018-2019 Budget this past May.  I am truly obliged for your trustworthiness in our schools and your confidence in our leadership.   Thank you for your continuous support and loyalty in working together with us to ensure that our students are provided with the most esteemed educational experience possible in the Cheektowaga-Sloan School District. 

    Our Leadership Team has already been working hard this summer to develop a refined District Vision that all of us will live by each day and that will guide all decisions that are made as we educate all children.  In sharing the beginning portion of our District Vision, it is my hope that you will recognize how strongly we feel about the students with whom we work with each day and that each and every one of them is important to us.

    Our District Vision begins and is grounded in the importance of Educating the Whole Child through supporting academic, social and emotional growth—respecting and appreciating that all students are worthy of intellectual respect, that the life and mind of each child is precious, that together we achieve more, and that differences should be valued and appreciated.

    Once the Vision is finalized, it will be shared with all of you so that together we can work to make the vision a reality and strengthen it with each passing year.

    As we think about the upcoming school year, it is with great enthusiasm and pleasure that I share with our community that we have hired a new JFK HS Principal to join our Leadership Team.  Mr. Jeremy Moore has been in education for twenty-one years and has served in various capacities, such as chemistry teacher for seventeen years, coach, mentor and most recently as the Assistant Principal at Brockport High School for the past four years.  He is passionate about developing strong, positive and respectful relationships with students, teachers, staff, families and the community.  Mr. Moore believes that it is critically important to balance academic growth with social and emotional growth which directly supports our District Vision and philosophy about educating children.  He is most appreciative of our confidence in him as he leads JFK HS to new levels of success and he is extremely eager to begin meeting everyone, learning about JFK HS and our School District, and working as a team to propel our District forward toward greater levels of success for all.

    May this beautiful summer bring all students, teachers, staff, families and our community renewed energy, relaxation, valued time with friends and family, and most importantly—a sense of tranquility.  I look forward to welcoming everyone back to school on Thursday, September 6, 2018. 

    Sincerely,

    Mrs. Andrea L. Galenski

    Superintendent of Schools

    Comments (-1)
  • 2018-2019 School Budget Updates

    Posted by Mrs. Andrea L. Galenski on 5/9/2018

    It is with sincere appreciation that you invest a few moments of your time to read this District Newsletter which highlights the proposed 2018-2019 Budget.  I have included pertinent information below so that you are as informed as possible and are best prepared to make your decision on May 15, 2018 when our annual School Budget Vote takes place. 

    I would first like to provide you with another update regarding the progress of our District’s Capital Improvement Project.  With your support back in December 2014, we were able to move forward with a significant Capital Project which has authorized us to advance our schools and guarantee the safest learning environment possible for our students, teachers, staff, and community members. 

    The following work has been completed to date:

    • Auditorium at JFK MS/HS has been completely remodeled with updated seating, flooring, new curtains, new projector for improved presentations, painting and improved sound—modern acoustical fabric wall panels have been installed on the walls which have improved the overall sound in the auditorium
    • Modern and safe Telescopic Bleachers have been installed in the JFK HS Gymnasium
    • Roofing and Masonry work has been completed at Theodore Roosevelt
    • Roof work, electrical updates and HVAC Systems have been updated at JFK MS
    • New concrete has been installed all around Woodrow Wilson
    • Older bathrooms have been renovated at Woodrow Wilson—new flooring, painting, fixtures, tile work and stalls
    • Pool filtration system has been completed at JFK HS
    • Three wheelchair lifts have been replaced at Woodrow Wilson
    • Locker Room lockers have been replaced at JFK HS
    • The bleachers around the track and football field at JFK MS/HS have been completely replaced
    • Science Classrooms/Labs have been renovated to improve the learning spaces at JFK MS/HS---this includes new flooring, painting, casework, cabinetry, counter tops and Promethian boards
    • Walls and ceiling have been painted in the JFK HS Gymnasium
    • All corridor lockers have been replaced at JFK MS/HS
    • The track at JFK MS/HS has been resurfaced
    • Boiler System at Theodore Roosevelt has been completely replaced
    • HVAC Systems at Woodrow Wilson have been updated
    • Cafeteria and Kitchen equipment has been updated and reconfigured at Woodrow Wilson
    • Roofing over the cafeteria has been replaced at Woodrow Wilson
    • The Nurse’s Office at JFK MS/HS has been renovated to meet ADA codes and to update space
    • Additional ceiling work has been completed at JFK MS/HS and at TR
    • Art/Music Room at Woodrow Wilson has been renovated

    While this is a long list, there is still more work to be done.  We have diligently tracked and controlled costs so that there are funds remaining in the project.  These remaining funds will be used for some much needed items, such as improving the safety and security at the entrances of JFK HS/MS, improvements to the art and music rooms at JFK, replacing certain failing doors at Woodrow Wilson, and many other improvements.

    It is important for me to once again extend a heartfelt thank you for your support with this capital project.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to do so, I encourage you to please walk around our schools and observe the tremendous amount of work that has taken place.  It has been a profound experience to witness firsthand the extraordinary changes that have already taken place in our learning spaces, and to anticipate the evolution that will occur this summer and during the summer of 2019 when so much more work will be accomplished.

    Each year in the Budget Newsletter, I furnish you with the exact reductions that have taken place throughout the past four years.  These reductions have enabled us to reduce spending, save money and decrease the burden on our taxpayers.  The information below is a summary of those reductions which are critical to mention as they continue to impact our overall budget:

    • Three years ago, we refinanced two remaining bonds. The savings from the first was $558,526 and the second was $392,206.  This is a total savings of $950,732 which will be realized over the remaining 11 years of the bonds.
    • We implemented a print management project in 2014-2015 which has eliminated individual classroom printers in all schools. This project provides us an annual savings of approximately $120,000 every year.
    • BOCES Partnerships—Shared Business Official and Shared Technology Management Services—these partnerships continue to save the district over $150,000—we will continue to maintain these partnerships next school year.
    • The position of high school assistant principal has not been staffed for the past three years and we will be continuing with that decision for the 2018-2019 school year—this is a significant administrative cost savings.
    • School Psychologist—reduced one position in the district four years ago and have not replaced that position.
    • Special Education Teacher—reduced one position for the coming 2018-2019 school year.
    • Teaching Assistants—reduced eight positions four years ago at JFK MS and HS.
    • Teacher Aides—reduced four positions four years ago and an additional position one year ago.
    • Clerical—reduced hours of work to promote consistency, efficiency and a cost savings.
    • Buildings and Grounds—four years ago, the decision was made not to employ a building and grounds superintendent—this decision will continue into the 2018-2019 school year. We also did not replace a position lost to retirement in this department.
    • Retirements—four years ago, we did not replace an elementary teacher, special education teacher, and a reading specialist—as additional retirements take place, we review student enrollment carefully and make thoughtful decisions about hiring.
    • BOCES Budget—we have continued to reduce programs and have made additional cuts where appropriate. We continuously review the BOCES programs and services to ensure that we are planning in a thoughtful way.
    • Computer Power Down—implemented in all schools three years ago and continues to take place in order to reduce power consumption-this has proven to save us several thousand dollars annually.

    These reductions have permitted us to keep costs down in areas that we have some control over, but unfortunately, there are some areas where increases are dictated to us with no funding to support the increased costs.  The following areas are contributing to a significant increase in spending for the 2018-2019 school year:

    • Special Education Costs—an increase of approximately $500,000 in tuition for special schools
    • English as a new Language (ENL)—an increase of approximately $70,000
    • Employee Health Insurance—an increase of approximately $153,000
    • Debt Service—an increase of approximately $1,070,000 in new debt payments are required for bond payments related to the capital improvements

    We received only $120,000 of additional foundation aid in the adopted New York State budget for 2018-2019.  This increase in foundation aid does not nearly cover the increase in costs noted above.  We have calculated that since 2007-2008, our District has lost $35,551,155 in foundation aid because it was not provided to us like it should have been.  With a total net in increased costs of $1,254,871 for the 2018-19 Budget, we applied the $120,000 of additional aid and additional building aid received as a result of our capital construction.  I have advocated for months on behalf of our District regarding the fact that this is unacceptable and that we rightfully deserve additional foundation aid.  I have specifically noted that given the significant amount that has been withheld since 2007 coupled with the increased costs of new mandates and regulations imposed on us that we should be entitled to further aid. 

    Despite New York State withholding aid that the District was promised and the need for us to implement numerous mandates and requirements which serve to increase the cost of education, we have diligently worked to keep the cost to our taxpayers as low as possible while providing our students with the best education that they all deserve..

    In the past few years, we have implemented new advanced placement and other challenging courses, we started two new Academic Learning Centers to help struggling students and challenge others, we implemented the 7 Habits/Leader In Me Program to provide students with leadership opportunities, and have made vast improvements in technology.  In just the past year, we implemented the Lucy Calkins Literacy Program which has yielded incredible success in our elementary schools.  Many of these programs are being emulated by other districts.  We will continue to seek ways to improve education for all of our students.

    What will be asking for from our taxpayers?

    We will be asking for a .98% increase in school taxes which is below the District’s Tax Cap of 2.57%.

    How much will my taxes increase as a result of a .98% increase?

    As we have done each year, we have taken a sample of homes from within our District to determine the estimated increase in annual taxes on the average home.  The average increase for an average home will be approximately $9.51.  Please remember that this is the total increase for the entire year.

    I genuinely hope that the information above is beneficial to you and that it provided you with a better understanding of our proposed 2018-2019 Budget.  Within this newsletter, you will also find the specific percentages and costs associated with the proposed Budget. 

    I encourage you to attend our Public Hearing on May 8, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. in Theodore Roosevelt Cafetorium.  During the Hearing, a PowerPoint presentation will be delivered which will include information about the proposed 2018-2019 Budget along with an opportunity for you to ask questions.  In addition to the Public Hearing, I encourage you to exercise your right to vote from 12:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 at our Budget Vote in the JFK HS Gymnasium.

    My aspiration has always been and continues to be one that provides our students with an exceptional quality learning experience that enriches them, supports their growth and development, cultivates productive and compassionate citizens and best prepares them for college, career and beyond.  Thank you for your unending support and collaboration as we move the Cheektowaga-Sloan School District toward greater success each day.  Our students deserve the very best!

    Sincerely,

    Mrs. Andrea L. Galenski

    Superintendent of Schools

    Comments (-1)
  • A Message Regarding a Recent Threat

    Posted by Mrs. Andrea L. Galenski on 3/27/2018

    Dear Families of Cheektowaga-Sloan Students,
     
    Please know that any and all threats that we receive both in school and on social media are taken very seriously as the safety of all students and staff is our number one priority.  Last evening, the Cheektowaga Police notified the District that they were investigating a social media threat.  The Police took the lead and immediately investigated the situation.  This went on through the evening.  It has been confirmed that the threat was not credible, there was never any danger to our schools, and they confirmed that all students and staff are safe.  As with all incidents such as this, the police are handling the student involved very seriously and with strong consequences.  I requested additional police presence at JFK MS and HS this morning and at this time, multiple detectives and police are on school grounds.  This is to ensure the safety of all and to further investigate any additional social media posts that are made regarding this situation.  Once we had factual information from the Police, we sent out robocalls to all MS and HS families early this morning informing parents that all students are safe.  We work tirelessly every day to educate our students about the dangers of social media especially when posts are made that are threatening in nature.  We will not tolerate threats from any students in our District and we will take very serious steps to ensure that students are held to the highest level of accountability should they make any threats to fellow students, staff or any of our schools.
     
    Thank you for your attention to this important message.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Mrs. Galenski, Superintendent of Schools

    Comments (-1)
  • Welcome to the 2017-2018 School year!

    Posted by Mrs. Andrea L. Galenski on 11/23/2017

    I hope that this newsletter serves as an official welcome back to the new 2017-2018 school year. 

    The beginning of this year brought much exhilaration as students, teachers and staff entered buildings that underwent major renovation throughout the summer months. 

    I have attached a few pictures below to share with you some of the fine work that has been done to modernize our school district.  The first picture represents our newly resurfaced track in the back of JFK HS.  The second picture depicts our new bleachers being installed.  These bleachers are now secured on a solid concrete surface and have closed backs for enhanced safety.

    1  2  

    The next two pictures represent our brand new auditorium complete with new flooring, seating, painting, and acoustical wall panels for improved sound.  The other picture highlights our brand new lockers at JFK MS and HS.

    3  4  

    These four pictures are only a small sampling of the amount of renovations that have been done as a result of your support back when the capital project was approved.  Your support enabled us to improve our schools, make them safe places for all who use and visit the buildings, and move our District into the 21st Century.  Please visit the Capital Project page on our website to view the most recent powerpoint presentations that highlight the tremendous work that has taken place. 

    Last year, I shared with the community that Mr. Drescher, our Business Official, and I presented at the New York State level in Saratoga Springs, NY.  We were able to share the tremendous accomplishments in the Cheektowaga-Sloan School District with Business Officials and Superintendents across New York State with a particular focus on developing and maintaining a robust partnership between School Business Officials and Superintendents in order to shift a school district toward greater success both financially and academically. 

    As a result of the impact that this presentation had on other school districts, we were asked by the Director of Education and Research for the NYS Association of School Business Officials to present again this past September in Albany, NY.  It was my honor and privilege to present this past September 19, 2017 on long range financial planning specifically how planning for instructional programming must be done in direct connection with financial planning and at the forefront of the entire planning process, there must be a strong relationship between the Superintendent and Business Official.  We were able to highlight our District’s accomplishments, such as our Academic Learning Centers at JFK MS and HS, and our newly implemented consistent reading program—Lucy Calkins Readers’ Workshop—in all classrooms K-5, and use these successes as an example of how thoughtful planning and collaboration results in tremendous programming and financial planning with the ultimate goal being the movement of a school district forward toward achieving greater results.

    I lead this District with humility and honor every day and for the past five years since I began this position, my main objective was to be as transparent as possible with all that we do here in our District.  Most significantly, it was and continues to be important for me to be clear with regard to our District’s financial planning so that our taxpayers feel confident that we are thoughtfully planning every day for educational programming, staffing, and both short and long term financial forecasting. 

    I mention these strong beliefs of mine because in the past year, the District was audited by the NYS Comptroller’s Office.  The resulting report was recently issued and while the report commended the District on its payroll process and controls, it also criticizes the District for budgeting practices and funds relating to aid on a capital project that occurred over 10 years ago.  Mr. Drescher and I believe it is important for our community to understand the facts relating to this criticism especially since this major error was made in 2006-2007, which was long before we entered our current leadership positions in 2012-2013.  Thankfully, we discovered the significant error and were able to correct it as best we could.  

    The State determined that it would provide “building aid” on this project over a 15 year period; however, the District funded the project using a 20 year bond.  This major mistake in mis-matching the aid period to the bond life would have resulted in devastating financial consequences to our community in the final 5 years of the bond’s life.  We could not let this happen to our taxpayers and we knew that our community could not possibly carry the burden of significant tax increases in the final 5 years of the bond’s life when no aid would be given to the District as a result of the error made in 2006-2007.  We developed the best plan for our taxpayers and the District by realizing that we needed to calculate what the remaining 5 years of payments would be and creating a plan for how we would make current payments while also saving enough money so we have the funds to cover the remaining 5 years of payments. 

    Regarding the criticism of the District budgeting practices, we would like to offer several facts that support the financial decisions that we believe are best for our students, staff and community.

    Below is a portion of a chart which is included with the Comptroller’s audit report:

    chart

    As you can clearly see from 2014-15, the budgeted appropriation actually decreased from $33,818,000 to $33,156,000.  This represents a $662,000 reduction.  Further, actual expenditures decreased each of these years representing a total decrease of $1,027,000 from 2013-14 to 2015-16. We agree that the District did not spend its annual budgeted appropriations, but we feel this is a sign of upright fiscal management and restraint. 

    These reductions in appropriations and actual expenses were the result of some very difficult decisions that we felt were necessary and in the best interest of all District stakeholders.  These difficult decisions are detailed in the District’s response to the audit, but include staffing reductions and many initiatives to reduce costs while trying to improve educational opportunities for our students.  These reductions were also necessary as the State has withheld $43,448,803 in funding from the GAP Elimination Adjustment and the Foundation Aid formula from 2007-2017.

    Despite this withholding of aid that could have significantly assisted in reducing the burden to District taxpayers, we believe the District has proactively managed finances such that the change in the tax levy has been very reasonable.  New York State imposed a Tax Cap upon local governments in order to control the burden placed on local real property taxpayers.  The following is a comparison of the Tax Cap to actual changes in the District’s tax levy:

    chart2

    As indicated in the above chart, the District’s actual tax levy is approximately only one-tenth of what it could have been under the Tax Cap.  To our disappointment, the Report of Examination makes no mention of this impressive fiscal accomplishment.

    We would like to note that all of this was accomplished while facing some enormous challenges, many of which are caused by mandates from the State and Federal governments. 

    Despite the challenges faced, State aid being withheld and our attempting to keep the tax levy as low as possible, we believe it is our duty to improve the educational opportunities for our students.  The Board of Education and all District employees work tirelessly to educate our students, provide opportunities for them to reach their greatest potential in school and be productive citizens once they graduate, and to be leaders in our community.  Some of the initiatives and programs put in place in just the past few years include:

    • Implemented Honors Courses at JFK MS and HS
    • Several new courses introduced at the high school level—astronomy, meteorology, art courses, building math trade course, etc.
    • Significant improvements in technology
    • Created and staffed two new Academic Learning Centers at JFK MS and HS
    • Implemented The Seven Habits /Leader In Me program in all schools K-12
    • Researched, committed to and implemented a new consistent reading program K-5--Lucy Calkins Readers’ and Writers’ Workshop
    • Engaged in a Partnership with Buffalo State College at JFK Middle School
    • Implemented Math Olympiad at JFK Middle School—challenging opportunities for students
    • Maintained art, music, physical education, foreign language, librarians at each school, nurses at all schools, clubs and sports

    We are proud to have provided the necessary balance in improved educational opportunities while also reducing expenses, controlling the tax levy and improving our financial position.  We will continue to make these thoughtful investments in our students while being cognizant of our taxpayers.  It is this balance between planning for educational programming/staffing and financial decisions that is critical and that we are most proud of what we have done in just five years in our positions.  We continue to be humbled by our New York State recognition for the planning and partnership that we have developed here in Cheektowaga-Sloan.

    It is with sincere hope that this article painted a picture of the wonderful accomplishments that have been reached in the past five years as well as provided you with a clear explanation of why we had to make the decisions that we did once we discovered the error that was made back in 2006-2007.  I encourage you to call us for further explanation if you have additional questions. 

    Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter and for your unending support in all that we do for our students and community.

     

    Sincerely,

    Mrs. Andrea L. Galenski, Superintendent of Schools

    Comments (-1)
  • Summer 2017 Updates

    Posted by Mrs. Andrea L. Galenski on 8/25/2017

    I would like to extend my deepest appreciation for another successful school year filled with rich learning experiences, ongoing collaborative planning which has resulted in progressive teaching and learning opportunities, and enduring memories for our students, teachers, staff and families. 

    It is important for me to take this opportunity to acknowledge our entire school community for your continued patronage with passing our 2017-2018 Budget this past May.  I am truly grateful for your loyalty to our schools and your trust in our leadership.  Words cannot accurately express the appreciation that I have for your unending support and commitment in working together with us to guarantee that our students are given the most valuable educational experience possible in the Cheektowaga-Sloan School District. 

    Our philosophy of educating children continues to be grounded in the notion that education is more than just academic success—it is about Whole Child success.  I could not be more proud of the programs that we have implemented which capture the very essence of educating the Whole Child

    Our 7 Habits/Leader in Me Program is now well on its way to District-wide implementation beginning with our youngest learners at Theodore Roosevelt and continuing through grade twelve at JFK HS.  Our students have learned about the importance of leadership, responsibility, possessing outstanding character and working together to appreciate each other’s differences.  Our students as early as in Kindergarten are leading the way in our schools and taking on leadership roles to help them practice and strengthen these critical skills.  We will be continuing work with the 7 Habits/Leader in Me in September and we look forward to continued success with this Program.

    We will be implementing a new K-5 Literacy Program in September called, Lucy Calkins--Readers’ and Writers’ Workshop.  In continuing our belief that we must work together in order to achieve the greatest success, we developed a Literacy Committee this year with teacher and staff representatives from grades K-5. This Committee has worked tirelessly to study, learn, read, and observe this Program in action in the Sweet Home School District, so that we are best prepared to begin Readers’ Workshop in our classrooms.  This Program focuses on surrounding children with books at various reading levels and giving students long periods of time to read each day.  We have made a commitment to purchase libraries of books for each classroom so that our teachers have the resources that they need to make this Program a true success.  Readers’ Workshop will bring consistency in reading instruction, reading assessment and reading progress to our schools which is something that we have longed to do for many years.  We look forward to providing you with feedback about the success of our first year of implementation.  This is another example of what we are able to provide for our students and teachers because of the dedication from all of you.  We are very excited about this new teaching and learning endeavor. 

    Finally, it is important for me to continue to highlight another successful educational opportunity that we have provided to our students with your support.  Our two Academic Learning Centers at JFK MS and HS, otherwise known as our ALCs, have brought an extraordinary amount of learning opportunities to all students ranging from those who may be struggling with a particular subject to students who may be ready for challenging experiences.  Our ALCs help students raise their averages, they offer tutoring by either certified teachers or peers, they offer credit recovery programs, students receive additional instruction to help them better understand concepts and content material from difficult classes, students can sharpen their skills with teacher guided SAT /ACT preparation, students are able to participate in programs, such as the International Math Olympiad Team at JFK MS to enrich their learning, and more.  Most importantly, our ALCs support the Whole Child by promoting a nurturing and supportive learning environment, developing self-confidence and creating a positive mindset about learning. 

    These are just three examples of what we are most proud of this school year.  It is always important for me to highlight the tremendous teaching and learning that takes place in our District.  Our students must always be our leading priority and we must continuously review student data and reflect about student learning and use that to inspire and invigorate us to work together to move our District forward toward greater success.

    During the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the unveiling of our new Greenauer Auditorium and at the Jazz Concert in May, I had the opportunity to talk with so many families many of whom I have known for years.  Those conversations continue to warm my heart, bring meaning to this leadership position, and remind me why relationships are the single most important factor as we educate children—relationships between children and their teachers/administrators, relationships between teachers/administrators and parents, and relationships between you, as our community, and all of us.  I am grateful for the relationships that we have, for the lasting communication and connection that you have in our schools, and for your ongoing commitment to developing the strongest partnership possible so that our students feel supported both at home and at school. 

    It is my sincere hope that all students, teachers, staff, families and our community experience a summer filled with beautiful memories, precious time with friends and family and peacefulness.  I look forward to welcoming everyone back to school on September 6, 2017.

    Sincerely,

    Mrs. Andrea L. Galenski

    Superintendent of Schools

    Comments (-1)
  • School Budget Updates

    Posted by Mrs. Andrea L. Galenski on 5/1/2017

    It is with sincere appreciation that you invest a few moments of your time to read this District Newsletter which highlights the proposed 2017-2018 Budget.  I have included pertinent information below so that you are as informed as possible and are best prepared to make your decision on May 16, 2017 when our annual School Budget Vote takes place. 

    I would first like to provide you with an update on the progress of our District’s Capital Improvement Project.  With your support back in December 2014, we were able to move forward with a significant Capital Project which has authorized us to advance our schools and guarantee the safest learning environment possible for our students, teachers, staff, and community members. 

    In the February 2017 edition of our Newsletter, I provided you with completed capital project work.  Knowing that the Budget Vote is approaching, I wanted to be sure to review this information again so that you are updated and best informed. 

    The following work has been completed to date:

    • Auditorium at JFK MS/HS has been completely remodeled with updated seating, flooring, new curtains, painting and improved sound—modern acoustical fabric wall panels will be installed on the walls in the upcoming months to improve the overall sound in the auditorium
    • Telescopic Bleachers have been installed in the JFK HS Gymnasium
    • Roofing and Masonry work has been completed at Theodore Roosevelt—additional masonry work will begin during Spring Recess to renovate the front entrance area at TR
    • Roof work, electrical updates and HVAC Systems will be updated at JFK MS
    • All new concrete has been installed in front of Woodrow Wilson
    • Older bathrooms have been renovated at Woodrow Wilson—new flooring, painting, fixtures, tile work and stalls
    • Pool filtration system has been completed at JFK HS
    • Three wheelchair lifts have been replaced at Woodrow Wilson
    • Locker Room lockers have been replaced at JFK HS

    The following work will be completed this Spring/Summer 2017:

    • Closed back bleachers will be installed near the track in the back of JFK MS/HS
    • Science Classrooms/Labs will be renovated to improve the learning spaces at JFK MS/HS---this includes new flooring, painting, casework, new cabinetry and countertops
    • Walls and ceiling will be painted in the JFK HS Gymnasium
    • New projector in the JFK MS/HS Auditorium
    • All corridor lockers will be replaced at JFK MS/HS
    • Track will be resurfaced in the back of JFK MS/HS
    • Boiler System at Theodore Roosevelt will be replaced (updates to HVAC Systems)
    • Updates to the HVAC Systems will be completed at Woodrow Wilson
    • Cafeteria and Kitchen equipment will be updated and reconfiguration of kitchen space and serving line will be completed at Woodrow Wilson
    • Roofing over the cafeteria will be replaced at Woodrow Wilson
    • Art/Music Room at Woodrow Wilson will be renovated
    • Nurse’s Office will be renovated to meet ADA codes and to update space
    • Additional ceiling work will be completed at JFK MS/HS and at TR

    It is important for me to once again extend a heartfelt thank you for your support with this capital project.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to do so, I encourage you to please walk around our schools and observe the tremendous amount of work that has taken place.  It has been a profound experience to witness firsthand the extraordinary changes that have already taken place in our learning spaces, and to anticipate the evolution that will occur this summer when so much more work will be accomplished.

    Each year in the Budget Newsletter, I furnish you with the exact reductions that have taken place throughout the past three years.  These reductions have enabled us to reduce spending, save money and decrease the burden on our taxpayers.  The information below is a summary of those reductions which are critical to mention as they continue to impact our overall budget:

    • Two years ago, we refinanced two remaining bonds. The savings from the first was $558,526 and the second was $392,206.  This is a total savings of $950,732 which will be realized over the remaining 11 years of the bonds.
    • We implemented a print management project in 2014-2015 which has eliminated individual classroom printers in all schools. This project provides us an annual savings of approximately $120,000 every year.
    • BOCES Partnerships—Shared Business Official and Shared Technology Management Services—these partnerships continue to save the district over $150,000—we will continue to maintain these partnerships next school year.
    • The position of high school assistant principal has not been staffed for the past two years and we will be continuing with that decision for the 2017-2018 school year—this is a significant cost savings.
    • School Psychologist—reduced one position in the district three years ago and have not replaced that position.
    • Teaching Assistants—reduced eight positions three years ago at JFK MS and HS
    • Teacher Aides—reduced four positions three years ago
    • Clerical—reduced hours of work to promote consistency, efficiency and a cost savings.
    • Buildings and Grounds—three years ago, the decision was made not to employ a building and grounds superintendent—this decision will continue into the 2017-2018 school year. We also did not replace a position lost to retirement in this department.
    • Retirements—three years ago, we did not replace an elementary teacher, special education teacher, and a reading specialist—as additional retirements take place, we review student enrollment carefully and make thoughtful decisions about hiring
    • BOCES Budget—we have continued to reduce programs and have made additional cuts where appropriate. We continuously review the BOCES programs and services to ensure that we are planning in a thoughtful way.
    • Computer Power Down—implemented in all schools three years ago and continues to take place in order to reduce power consumption-this has proven to save us several thousand dollars annually.

    These reductions have permitted us to keep costs down in areas that we have some control over, but unfortunately, there are some areas where increases are dictated to us with no funding to support the increased costs.  The following areas are contributing to a significant increase in spending for the 2017-2018 school year:

    • Transportation—an increase of approximately $261,191
    • Special Education Costs—an increase of approximately $218,000
    • Charter School Tuition—an increase of approximately $225,200
    • English as a new Language (ENL)—an increase of approximately $200,000

    We have currently received only $200,000 of additional foundation aid which will barely cover the increased costs in just one of the areas noted above.  We have calculated that since 2007-2008, our District has lost $35,551,155 in foundation aid because it was not provided to us like it should have been.  With projected increased costs of $644,487 for the 2017-18 Budget, we applied the $200,000 of additional aid and are still left with an approximate gap of $443,554.  I have advocated for months on behalf of our District regarding the fact that this is unacceptable and that we rightfully deserve additional foundation aid.  I have specifically noted that given the significant amount that has been withheld since 2007 coupled with the increased costs of new mandates and regulations imposed on us that we should be entitled to further aid. 

    With the Governor’s final budget being delayed, we, along with districts across New York State, are left with uncertainty as to whether or not additional aid will be provided.  Recognizing this, we had no other choice but to move forward knowing that our deadline is quickly approaching for budget adoption.  Please know that we have invested incredible time and thought as we prepared the 2017-2018 Budget.  It was a priority for us to keep our taxpayers at the forefront as we made reductions, addressed expenses, ensured that our students and their programming were not in any way jeopardized but rather strengthened in a cost effective manner, and as we planned for future years which is so important to do. 

    In order for us to close the gap, continue to make the very best financial decisions, and be devoted to planning for the future of our School District, we will need the ongoing support of all of you. 

    What will be asking for from our taxpayers?

    We will be asking for a .84% increase in school taxes which is below the District’s Tax Cap of 2.24%.

    How much will my taxes increase as a result of a .84% increase?

    As we have done each year, we have taken a sample of homes from within our District to determine the estimated increase in annual taxes on the average home.  The average increase for an average home will be approximately $8.09.  Please remember that this is the total increase for the entire year.

    I genuinely hope that the information above is beneficial to you and that it provided you with a better understanding of our proposed 2017-2018 Budget.  Within this newsletter, you will also find the specific percentages and costs associated with the proposed Budget. 

    I encourage you to attend our Public Hearing on May 9, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. in Theodore Roosevelt Cafetorium.  During the Hearing, a PowerPoint presentation will be delivered which will include information about the proposed 2017-2018 Budget along with an opportunity for you to ask questions.  In addition to the Public Hearing, I encourage you to exercise your right to vote from 12:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 16, 2017 at our Budget Vote in the JFK HS Gymnasium.

    My aspiration has always been and continues to be one that provides our students with an exceptional quality learning experience that enriches them, supports their growth and development, cultivates productive and compassionate citizens and best prepares them for college, career and beyond.  Thank you for your unending support and collaboration as we move the Cheektowaga-Sloan School District toward greater success each day.  Our students deserve the very best!

    Sincerely,

    Mrs. Andrea L. Galenski

    Superintendent of Schools

     

     

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  • March 2017 Updates

    Posted by Mrs. Andrea L. Galenski on 3/7/2017

    I would like to begin this article by acknowledging our parents and community members for your ongoing support at all of our events which have taken place so far this school year.  Just one example of your incredible support was at our holiday concert at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School in December.  It was with tremendous honor that in a trio with Mrs. Fitzner and Mr. Murray, I was able to share the gift of music with all of you before our students performed.  As I looked into the audience, it brought the warmest feeling knowing that our students would be performing for a full house of parents, friends, guests and individuals who mean so much to them.  It is ever so important that school and home work together to develop and maintain the strongest partnership possible.  Thank you for helping us strengthen our relationship each year through your continued support, collaboration and trust in our schools.

    In our last newsletter, I provided you with an update of the capital project work that had been completed along with projections of work that was scheduled to be done this year.  It is with great enthusiasm that I share updated accomplishments with you. 

    For the first time since 1962, our auditorium at John F. Kennedy MS/HS has now been completely renovated.  It is difficult to articulate my feelings regarding this transformation because it has been an overwhelming experience to witness such a dramatic change for our students, staff and community.  This new space is modern, professional, it is a 21st century learning space where talent will be observed for many years to come, and it reflects the support that you gave through your approval of the capital project on December 16, 2014.  I had always envisioned an auditorium that would someday appear like it does today and it is with sincere gratitude that I express a heartfelt thank you for your trust and unending support in the work that we do each day to move the Cheektowaga-Sloan School District forward toward greater success and which reflects 21st century learning.

    We are in the process of planning an exceptional event in which we will unveil our new auditorium.  Once we finalize the details, we will be inviting all of you to this official ribbon cutting ceremony so that you can help us celebrate in the excitement.  We plan to include our students, staff and Board of Education in this most special ceremony and we truly hope that you will be able to participate as well.  Invitations will be mailed home to all families inviting you to join us at the formal unveiling event. 

    I would also like to take this opportunity to share with you that the gymnasium at John F. Kennedy High School has also taken on a transformation which is still in progress.  That space now includes telescopic bleachers which are highlighted in our District colors of black and gold for our students, families and guests to use.  These bleachers are safe, modern and present an entirely new look to our gymnasium.  In the upcoming months, this space will also be completely repainted using a subtle gray color accented in gold and black.  This is another space that we are most proud of and that was made possible with your support of this capital project.  I encourage you to visit our renovated gymnasium to observe the fine work that has been completed.

    There is still much work to be completed and as we make progress, I will be sure to provide you with updated information so that you are aware of the tremendous work that has been accomplished.  Please visit our Capital Project Webpage for updated information especially to view before and after pictures which really communicate our story through visual images.

    Finally, I wanted to share with you that we are working incredibly hard on planning and preparing the 2017-2018 Budget.  We have made it our continued priority to keep the taxpayers at the forefront of this process so that we are able to bring forward a fair, efficient and thoughtful budget that presents the least amount of burden to our community. 

    It is important for me to share that I have been advocating for more foundation aid from New York State along with my colleague Superintendents in Erie County.  On February 8th, I met with Assemblywoman Monica Wallace, to convey the financial struggles that we are facing here in Cheektowaga-Sloan because of the millions of dollars that have been withheld since 2007.  We have calculated that in our District alone, a total of $35,551,155 has been lost to foundation aid.  This number is staggering and has resulted in us having had to make very difficult decisions about teaching and learning and the education of our children.  Our students deserve the highest quality education and deserve experiences that allow for more choice and academically challenging opportunities that could be provided should more aid be given to our District.  It is becoming increasingly more difficult to sustain programming that we have worked hard to implement for our students with funding not adequately being provided. 

    I also met with Senator Timothy Kennedy on February 10th to share the same financial concerns.  I will continue to be the voice for our District and will continue to advocate for more foundation aid for Cheektowaga-Sloan.  It is with great hope that Assemblywoman Wallace and Senator Kennedy can be the necessary conduit to the Governor at the State level, so that change can be made and relief can be provided to not only our District, but to all Erie County School Districts who are in similar, if not worse, financial situations. 

    We look forward to bringing a 2017-2018 Budget forward that is transparent, thoughtful, provides our students with quality educational experiences, is academically competitive with surrounding school districts, yet takes into consideration your needs as taxpayers and places the least amount of burden on you as possible.  I welcome you to attend our Board of Education meetings where more specific information is discussed about the 2017-2018 Budget and please know that you can always call with any questions that you may have regarding the budget process. 

    It continues to be my privilege and honor to lead the Cheektowaga-Sloan School District.  In reflecting about the last three years, it is remarkable that with your support, we have been able to make such significant change to each of our schools not only through the capital project, but also through the implementation of new and innovative academic programs, such as our two Academic Learning Centers, and social/emotional supports, such as our Family Solutions Center, for our students and families.  Thank you for working together with us to ensure that we are educating the Whole Child despite whatever financial hardships we may encounter.

    Sincerely,

    Mrs. Andrea L. Galenski, Superintendent of Schools

     

     

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  • Welcome to the 2016-2017 School year!

    Posted by Mrs. Andrea L. Galenski on 11/1/2016

    I would like to take this opportunity to officially welcome you to the 2016-2017 school year.  It is hard to believe that the month of November is already approaching.  We have already celebrated much success during the months of September and October which you are able to read about on our District’s website.  If you haven’t had a chance to view our new website, I encourage you to do so at http://www.cheektowagasloan.org/ as it highlights the talent and success of our students, teachers and staff from all schools.

     

    Since our Capital Project began this past summer, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to share with you some of the work that has been accomplished to date.  At Theodore Roosevelt, new flooring was installed in classrooms and in the hallways and restrooms were renovated which included new tiling and stalls. At Woodrow Wilson, restrooms were renovated and new flooring was also installed in classrooms and in the cafeteria which looks beautiful.  New wheelchair lifts were installed so that we are in compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. At JFK Middle School and High School, a new roof was installed over the West side of the building which included the stage area in the auditorium.  There was also repair work done on skylights and ceilings throughout the schools.

     

    We are fortunate that additional work will be completed throughout this school year.  The track in the back of JFK High School will be resurfaced in the spring, new telescopic bleachers will be installed in the JFK HS gymnasium, and the entire auditorium at JFK MS/HS will be renovated which includes new seating, flooring, painting and acoustics.  This is a very exciting time for our students, staff, and community especially when you can observe the work taking place and much needed improvements occurring throughout the District.  Your support has allowed us to make these improvements and to keep our District safe and updated for years to come.  I sincerely appreciate your support and confidence in our planning and decision making process.  We spent so much time analyzing the work that needed to be done along with the cost associated with that work in order to keep our schools as safe as possible while also being cognizant of our taxpayers.  I look forward to providing you with continued updates as we move through this Capital Project.  Please visit our website and go to ‘Capital Project’ to view photographs that were taken before and after the work was completed.

     

    In addition to the Capital Project work that has taken place, I wanted to take this chance to share with you the tremendous academic success that has occurred in our District.  The month of September and October have been two of the most humbling and honorable months for me as the leader of our District.  Mr. Drescher, our Business Official, and I were asked to present in Saratoga Springs, NY on September 26th at the New York State Superintendents Association Fall Leadership Summit--Cultivating the Spirit within Each Child.  This presentation focused on the critical need for a Business Official and Superintendent to work together in a positive, collaborative and engaging partnership in order to move a district forward toward greater success.  We shared ‘our story’ about how our partnership along with the collaboration of the Board of Education and Leadership Team enabled us to make difficult decisions in order to reorganize and position ourselves where we were able to create new programs, offer new coursework and hire tremendous staff to teach our children.  We highlighted our two new Academic Learning Centers (ALCs) as just one example of how collaboration, hard work, a shared vision and thoughtful planning allowed our District to open two new ALCs which in less

    than a year, have proven to be successful and a true resource for our middle and high school learners.  Our ALCs have become positive, productive, warm, inviting, caring and shared learning spaces that support all learners—those that need extra help and support in a particular area, such as mathematics, and those that require a challenge which could be help in Advanced Placement coursework, providing tutoring to a peer, or working to complete a project that advances learning.  We are so proud of our ALCs and could not be happier that our success was noted at the New York State level.  It was an honor to represent Cheektowaga-Sloan and a humbling experience to share our positive success with districts from all across New York State.

     

    It is important for me to mention that our School District was also recognized by the Erie-Niagara School Boards Association.  On October 6th, we delivered a presentation to School Boards from across Erie and Niagara Counties that highlighted the important role that Board Members play when decisions have to be made in order to further advance a school district. We once again highlighted the process that we followed in order to create and implement two Academic Learning Centers, and how the support and partnership with the Board of Education was what helped us achieve our goal.  We were most fortunate to have Regent Collins in the audience who asked questions, complimented our District and asked to visit in the near future.  I could not be more pleased with the progress that our District has made in just a few years and it is a result of a combined effort by the Board of Education, the administrators and teachers/staff, a shared vision of teaching and learning that demands a quality education for all learners, and perseverance—having an idea and working hard to bring that idea to reality like we did with our Academic Learning Centers.  I encourage you to visit our website to read more about these presentations and to view pictures.

     

    I look forward to seeing many of you at our upcoming events, such as the Family First Dinner at TR, Board of Education meetings, and upcoming concerts for all schools.  Thank you for your support in all that we do to educate our children and give them the very best high quality education that they deserve.  It is my honor to lead the Cheektowaga-Sloan School District each day and to work hard to bring continued success to all of our schools. 

     

    May your November be filled with warmth and happiness as you spend time with family and friends for the upcoming Thanksgiving Season

     

    Sincerely,

    Mrs. Andrea L. Galenski, Superintendent of Schools

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  • Budget 2016-17

    Posted by Mrs. Andrea L. Galenski on 4/20/2016

    Thank you for taking the time to read this District Newsletter which highlights the proposed 2016-2017 Budget. My goal is to provide you with pertinent information so that you are as knowledgeable as possible and can make an informed decision on May 17, 2016 when our School Budget Vote takes place.

    First, I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on the progress of our District’s Capital Improvement Project. With your support in December 2014, we were able to move forward with a much needed Capital Project in order to invest in our schools and to ensure the safest environment possible for our students, teachers, staff, and community members. Before work can begin, there is much planning that needs to take place and approval from the State Education Department (SED) is required which can take months to receive. Knowing that there is a delay at the State level, we have made it a priority to be involved in numerous meetings with our architects and have remained in constant communication with SED so that our Capital Project was not delayed.

    We have already made significant progress and look forward to this summer when more work will be completed. In summary, the following work has already been completed, or will be completed in the upcoming months pending SED approval:

    • Roofing and Masonry work has been completed at Theodore Roosevelt
    • Pool filtration system has been completed at JFK HS
    • Currently, three wheelchair lifts are being replaced at Woodrow Wilson
    • Boiler System at Theodore Roosevelt will be replaced (updates to HVAC Systems)
    • Updates to the HVAC Systems will be completed at Woodrow Wilson
    • Cafeteria and Kitchen equipment will be updated and reconfiguration of kitchen space and serving line will be completed
    • Roof work, electrical updates and HVAC Systems will be updated at JFK MS
    • Auditorium at JFK MS/HS will be remodeled with updated seating, painting and improved sound
    • Gymnasium Bleachers and lockers will be replaced at JFK HS
    • Science Rooms/Labs will be renovated to improve the learning spaces at JFK MS/HS

    We are extremely excited about this Capital Improvement Project not only because it allows us to maintain our schools and provide safe learning spaces, but it proves that we are committed to improving our schools so that the students in Cheektowaga-Sloan are provided with the highest quality education possible. It is with your support that we were able to embark on such a profound project. Thank you so very much.

    Last year, I provided you with the specific reductions that have taken place over the past two years in order to reduce spending, save money and decrease the burden on our taxpayers. I thought it was important to review that information with you again as it continues to impact our overall budget.

    • This 2015-2016 school year, we chose not to staff the position of high school assistant principal and will be continuing with that decision for the 2016-2017 school year—this is a significant cost savings.
    • Last year, we refinanced two outstanding bonds. The savings from the first was $558,526 and the second was $392,206. This is a total savings of $950,732 which will be realized over the remaining 12 years of the bonds.
    • We implemented a print management project which has eliminated individual classroom printers-the first phase was implemented in 2014-15, and the second phase, which included JFK Middle and High School, was implemented last summer. This project provides us an annual savings of approximately $120,000 every year.
    • BOCES Partnerships—Shared Business Official and Shared Technology Management Services—these partnerships continue to save the district over $150,000—we will continue to maintain these partnerships.
    • School Psychologist—reduced one position in the district two years ago and have not replaced that position.
    • Special Education Consultant Teacher—reduced one position which has not been replaced.
    • Teaching Assistants—reduced eight positions two years ago at JFK MS and HS-these have not been replaced.
    • Teacher Aides—reduced four positions two years ago which have not been replaced
    • Clerical—reduced hours of work to promote consistency, efficiency and a cost savings.
    • Buildings and Grounds—two years ago, the decision was made not to employ a building and grounds superintendent or assistant superintendent like most districts have—this decision remained in effect for the 2015-2016 school year and will continue into the 2016-2017 school year. We also did not replace a position lost to retirement in this department.
    • Retirements—two years ago, we did not replace an elementary teacher at Woodrow Wilson, special education teacher at John F. Kennedy HS and a reading specialist at Theodore Roosevelt.
    • BOCES Budget—we have continued to reduce programs and have made additional cuts where appropriate. We continuously review the BOCES programs and services to ensure that we are planning in a thoughtful way.
    • Computer Power Down—implemented in all schools two years ago and continues to take place in order to reduce power consumption-this has proven to save us several thousand dollars annually.

    As you read through the reductions above, it becomes evident that these changes are significant and that much work has been done to thoughtfully decrease spending while not jeopardizing the educational experience for all students. Our priority every day is to ensure that our students are receiving the highest quality education possible that involves a keen focus on services, programs and experiences for all learners. We believe in educating the Whole Child so that our learners graduate with a solid academic foundation balanced with knowledge and positive experiences in music, art, physical education, foreign language and more.

    These reductions have allowed us to keep costs down in areas that we have some control over, but unfortunately, there are some areas where increases are dictated to us. The following areas are contributing to a significant increase in spending for the 2016-2017 school year:

    • Transportation—we will have over an $800,000 increase in this area as a result of a new contract for student transportation
    • Employee Health Insurance and Special Education—increase of over $300,000
    • Charter School Tuition—an increase of almost $50,000

    While there was much publicity about increased funding to schools in New York State, our District received a small increase in foundation aid compared to other districts. We received only a 0.719% increase which equates to $125,288. We were most pleased about the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) being restored in our District which was a total of $300,180; however, when looking at the millions of dollars taken by NYS because of Foundation Aid hold-backs coupled with the increases in spending, this additional money did not allow us to close our gap. In order for us to close the gap, continue to make the very best financial decisions, and be committed to planning for the future of our School District, we will need the ongoing support of all of you.

    What will be asking for from our taxpayers?

    We will be asking for a 1.49% increase in school taxes which is below the District’s Tax Cap of 1.71%.

    How much will my taxes increase as a result of a 1.49% increase?

    As we did last year, we have taken a sample of homes from within our District to determine the estimated increase in annual taxes on the average home. The average increase for an average home will be approximately $14.77. Please remember that this is the total increase for the entire year.

    I sincerely hope that the information above is helpful to you and that it provided you with a better understanding of our proposed 2016-2017 Budget. Within this newsletter, you will also find the specific percentages and costs associated with the proposed Budget. Thank you for taking the time to review this information.

    I welcome you to attend our Public Hearing on May 10, 2016 at Theodore Roosevelt. The evening will begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Cafetorium. During the Hearing, a PowerPoint presentation will be presented which will include information about the proposed 2016-2017 Budget along with an opportunity for you to ask questions. I look forward to seeing you there. In addition to the Public Hearing, I encourage you to exercise your right to vote on Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at our annual Budget Vote. That will take place from 12:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. at JFK HS.

    It is important for me to mention that with your support, we have been able to make some incredible changes to the programs and course offerings for the students in our District. Just to name a few, we now have honors courses to offer our middle and high school students, we have additional coursework, such as meteorology, astronomy, mathematics for the building trades, and philosophy, we unveiled two brand new Academic Learning Centers, which we are so proud of and that have helped so many of our students reach success, be challenged and serve as leaders, and through our Leader in Me and 7 Habits of Mind Programs, we have promoted a positive, accepting and caring community of learners. My goal has always been and continues to be one that aims to give our students an educational experience that challenges them, supports their learning, develops productive and caring citizens and prepares them for college, career and beyond. I want to extend my deepest gratitude for your support in allowing us to meet and exceed this goal.

    Sincerely,

    Mrs. Andrea L. Galenski

    Superintendent of Schools

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  • 7 Habits of Effective Learners

    Posted by Mrs. Andrea L. Galenski on 2/1/2016

    The month of March is already upon us and with its presence comes a sentiment that spring is quickly approaching. To me, spring symbolizes growth, new beginnings and optimism. Knowing this, it seems like the perfect time of year to reflect on the positive developments and true successes that have occurred in our school district this school year. It is my hope that in sharing these accomplishments, that you will have a greater sense and clearer picture of the tremendous teaching and learning that takes place here each day.

    As I wrote earlier in the school year, our vision remains strong about the need to develop and educate the whole child. We have continued to ground ourselves in the belief that all students can learn and are worthy of intellectual respect, that the life and mind of each child is precious, that quality education demands genuine appreciation of difference and that together we can achieve more. This shared vision allowed us to develop an idea over the past three years and finally see it come to fruition at a formal Ribbon Cutting Ceremony which took place at our Board of Education meeting on December 15, 2015.

    Three years ago, when I began my role as Superintendent, I began sharing my vision for learning which included a special place where students of varying abilities could receive the support, empowerment, resources, and opportunities they need to reach the greatest success in whatever learning path they are on in school. In hearing the call to develop learners who are prepared for college, career and beyond, it became even more clear that these special places were something that we needed to make happen in the Cheektowaga-Sloan School District.

    With support from our Board of Education, a vision embraced by all, thoughtful planning, forward thinking, hard work, and financial projections which all focused on the same result---strong support for our learners which yields higher academic achievement--we were able to make this vision of having these special places become reality. These special places have evolved into two beautiful, warm, engaging, supportive, positive, student-centered and inviting Academic Learning Centers.

    Our Academic Learning Centers, otherwise known as our ALCs, represent a new vision of academic programming that is aligned with 21st Century learning and meet the individual needs of our learners. As the leader of our school district, it is critical that I advocate for all learners—those that struggle, those that require additional support with challenging coursework, such as Advanced Placement or Honors coursework, those that want to challenge themselves with achieving a higher score on the SATs, those that seek to give back to their classmates through peer tutoring, and those that just may need a quiet space for completing work.

    In our Centers, students have the unique opportunity to work one-on-one with the ALC teachers or peer tutors, they are able to work in small groups, they can study independently, they have the chance to work on-line to acquire course credit, and students have the opportunity to select which type of learning works best for them. Our Academic Learning Centers are student-centered and encourage all learners to be in charge of their own learning.

    With the increased rigor and challenging work that students are exposed to, it is our obligation to ensure that they have a supportive and nurturing learning environment that supports the Whole Child, which is our strongest core belief in the Cheektowaga-Sloan School District. Developing and supporting the Whole Child is exactly what our Academic Learning Centers do—they recognize that all students can learn and are worthy of intellectual respect, they recognize that the life and mind of each child is precious, they recognize that quality education demands genuine appreciation of differences, they promote an environment of student leadership and the message that together we can achieve more resonates throughout each Center.

    We have also been working very hard at both Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School and JFK MS to implement The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This is a process—not a program—that strives to focus on having a positive attitude, maintaining an optimistic outlook, and realizing that change is good, that change will increase results, and that change is most productive if made over time. The process is modified a bit for our younger learners at TR and is referred to as The Leader in Me. The results of the implementation process have been most successful with staff, students and our families who have provided positive feedback about the effects that this process has had on either themselves, their children or their families at home. Please take a moment to talk with your child about The 7 Habits to see what they have learned. I included them here for your review.

    Habit 1: Be Proactive—responsibility, choice, accountability, initiative

    Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind—vision, commitment, purpose

    Habit 3: Put First Things First—focus, integrity, prioritization

    Habit 4: Think Win-Win—mutual benefit, fairness, abundance

    Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood—respect, empathy, courage

    Habit 6: Synergize—creativity, cooperation, diversity, humility

    Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw—renewal, continuous improvement, balance

    We are looking forward to expanding The 7 Habits to Woodrow Wilson and JFK High School in September for implementation in the 2016-2017 school year.

    Thank you for taking the time to learn more about what our school district has accomplished so far this school year. With each passing day, I feel more fortunate to work in a school district that is so committed, positive, and focused on student learning. Our number one priority will always be our students and giving each one of them the very best educational experience possible so that they soar to the highest level of success in life. Thank you for your constant support at home and in our community—it truly means everything to us.

     

    Sincerely,

    Mrs. Andrea L. Galenski

    Superintendent of Schools

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