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