From the desk of:Mrs. Andrea L. GalenskiSuperintendent of SchoolsCheektowaga-Sloan UFSDDistrict Clerk/Secretary:Denise Knaebe(716) 891-6402
May 2022 UpdatesPosted by Peter Fuchs on 5/16/2022
It is with sincere appreciation that you set aside just a few moments to read this comprehensive District Newsletter which highlights the proposed 2022-2023 Budget. There is pertinent information included for your review as you prepare to cast your vote on May 17, 2022 when our annual Budget Vote takes place at John F. Kennedy High School.
I must begin by sharing what overwhelming joy it has brought to me personally that we were finally able to progress forward out of the pandemic and begin taking the necessary steps toward implementing more normal daily operations in our schools. It is difficult to express the true happiness that has warmed my heart these past few months as observations have been made of students smiling, being able to see their faces, watching students respect one another especially for those who have chosen to continue wearing a mask, and to view the personal interactions that were so absent during the last two years. The daily experiences that we have with one another are so much more powerful when we are in-person, reading each other’s expressions, working with our peers in hands on settings, and most importantly, being able to engage in the various activities that create a meaningful, rewarding and productive learning adventure.
A few examples that showcase the important progress that we have made coming out of the pandemic would be the extraordinary musical, Mary Poppins, that was performed by our students and staff just a short time ago in March 2022. It was an absolutely breathtaking performance that made me sit in the audience filled with such pride and joy for our District. We have such amazing students and staff who had roles in the musical, who worked behind the scenes on the stage, or who played in the pit orchestra. The talent was something to be so proud of and it made me realize even more how critically important these in-person experiences are for everyone. It is also important for me to mention that as a guest in the audience on Opening Night, it was impressive for me to observe the high level of respect from all the guests who attended the performance. The audience was quiet, appreciative, and provided such praise for our performers. It was also a meaningful evening for me as I was finally able to interact with our parents and guests who were not able to be present in our schools for a period of time during the pandemic. Thank you to all parents and guests who helped with the ticket sales and all of the other events that were taking place in the JFK HS foyer throughout the weekend. It takes a community to educate children and that was evidenced in such a positive way this March.
My Superintendent Council has been an integral part of this school year especially with the help from all representatives on the Council in bringing more positivity to our schools especially JFK HS. The remarkable high school students serving on this prestigious Council range from Freshmen to Seniors with the idea being that we are able to hear from a diverse group of learners who carry themselves as strong leaders in our school community. This is a forum where ideas are welcomed, concerns and suggestions are encouraged to be shared and together, decisions are made that will positively impact JFK HS. This year alone, we were able to implement an outside dance with another one on the way, we have incorporated more spirit days to encourage JFK pride, we recently held a volleyball tournament that was met with great success, we have worked to encourage more students to participate in sports which proved to be effective given the recent high turnout for track this spring which the students were excited about, and we are in the process of planning for more mentoring to occur at our younger grades with our high school students leading the way as well as various end of the year events that are in the planning stages. I would like to thank the Superintendent Council for their partnership with me, their strong leadership, their positivity, and their dedication to helping me and all of us here bring success, growth, respect, and pride to JFK and to our entire District.
As we work each day here to educate the Whole Child, it is my hope that you recognize the variety of activities and events that our students are able to participate in and which embody the philosophy of Whole Child Education—academic, social and emotional learning, support and success. In addition to what was already mentioned, it is important for me to share the exceptional accomplishments of our JFK Bowling Team. Athletics is another opportunity for students to shine and highlight the great talents that they have outside of the classroom. It is with significant pride that we congratulate and celebrate our JFK Bowling Team for having achieved the title of Section VI Class D Bowling Champions! Thank you for representing the Cheektowaga-Sloan School District in such an accomplished, polite, and respectful manner. We are all so proud of our Bowling Team!
I encourage our community to read our District Website to observe the special, engaging, student-centered, and positive learning experiences happening in all of our schools. You will be impressed. As we have begun to move out of the pandemic, you will notice inspiring activities taking place, such as Irish dancers at TR, the 100th Day of School celebration, taping Mrs. Zaccarine to the wall at Woodrow Wilson, Spirt Days at all schools, Modified Cheerleading earning 1st place at JFK MS, Golden Beaker awards in science at JFK MS, Honors Breakfasts at both JFK MS and HS, Restorative Circles, and so much more. We are so proud of our students from PreK-12 who have shown tremendous resiliency throughout these past two years and are now reinvigorated to shine brightly in all that they do!
We are able to accomplish such success in our schools and make tremendous progress through the partnership that we have with everyone here including our parents who have supported us, worked with us, and were more than patient throughout the pandemic when at times, it was very challenging to educate our children. I express my deepest and most heartfelt gratitude to our entire Cheektowaga-Sloan Family.
As years pass, it can become easy to lose sight of the great accomplishments that have been made in our District with regard to capital improvements. With the Budget Vote approaching, this seemed like the perfect time to review some of the major accomplishments that have modernized our schools and made them extraordinary places to teach, learn and perform in. I am providing some examples below; however, our architects, Young & Wright, have graciously provided before and after pictures in this newsletter to highlight the significant work that has been done with our community’s support.
Safety & Security is of utmost concern—we are adding additional cameras to ensure the safest environment possible in all schools including outside areas and inside hallways where video coverage is very important
Main Hallway at Woodrow Wilson—is currently undergoing a major renovation to include brand new tiling and painting to modernize the school. This project will continue into the future so that eventually, all the old tile will be replaced essentially providing a facelift for this beautiful school
Generator—a new and more powerful generator will be installed at JFK in order to provide a safety net should we have any power outages in the future. This will ensure that the phones will remain working so that communication is not interrupted and it will also help with internet connectivity. This is a very important safety measure that we are proud to be implementing with the entire cost provided by grant funding.
Auditorium—for those who begin visiting our JFK Auditorium again, please know that this space went through a complete overhaul renovation just a few years ago that included updated seating, flooring, new curtains, painting and greatly improved sound with the addition of modern acoustical fabric sound panels. This space was old, unsafe, and completely outdated and now it is a 21st Century Auditorium!
Our JFK HS Gymnasium—have new telescopic bleachers, floor resurfacing and walls have been painted for a fresh and modern look
The Locker Rooms at JFK HS—were replaced and are now fresh spaces for our students who can be proud to enter the locker rooms
All Corridor Lockers—were replaced at JFK MS and JFK HS—this has created a beautiful new look for our hallways and highlights our school colors of black and gold
Bleachers around the JFK HS Track/Football Field—these were completely replaced
JFK HS Track—this was completely resurfaced to provide for a sleek new appearance
Boiler System at Theodore Roosevelt—was completely replaced
Art, Music & Science Labs/ Rooms—major renovations were done to these spaces which now reflect high quality areas for teaching and learning
Roofs, ceiling tiles, and HVAC Systems—have been replaced and renovated at all schools to provide for modernization and necessary maintenance of these areas
Technology Improvements—the District has made overwhelming progress in this area with the re-wiring of all classroom cables, the installation of wifi hotspots, we have provided every child with a Chromebook and every teacher with a laptop, and we continue to implement new programming, such as filtering systems, to ensure that technology is safe and secure for everyone
We are proud of the vast improvements that we have made to our schools with your support. We look forward to future projects that will continue to modernize and enhance our schools so that all of us here and our community can be proud to enter our buildings, teach and learn, and perform in such wonderful environments. Again, be sure to look through the before and after photographs contained in this newsletter for an even better representation of the great work that has been accomplished in our District.
It is important for me to share that although we will be receiving an increase in State aid for the 2022-2023, it still is not what we had hoped to receive and is not nearly as much as surrounding districts will be receiving. Advocacy is a much needed process and one that we embrace each year as we develop and plan for the following school year’s budget. As a result, we took action to ensure our points were heard at the State level. We met with NYS Assemblymember Monica Wallace’s Office on February 3, 2022, and with Senator Kennedy’s Office on March 3, 2022 and emphasized that given the increased high needs of our District, that we deserved more aid to adequately fund what is needed to educate and support our students. One point we emphasized was the need to use relevant and updated data in the formula used to determine aid for each school district. The data currently being used is Census data from 2000 which is completely outdated. The demographics of our community have changed which is why we continue to express our concern to the top area political representatives about why these updates to important data need to be made and how without change, we will continue to receive inadequate funding based on outdated information.
We are committed to our taxpayers, as we have been for the last ten years, in fighting for what we believe in and what we feel our community rightfully deserves. We have continued to make reductions when we can and where we are able to without losing quality programming and staffing for our PreK-12 students. We hope that our community continues to recognize that it is through our disciplined saving actions that we have been able to remain below the tax cap since 2013 with an average of only a 0.44% increase over the last ten years. We are extremely proud of this record and are motivated and determined to uphold this reputation for many years to come. We are once again asking for the support of our taxpayers on May 17, 2022.
What will be asking for from our taxpayers?
We will be asking for a 0.97% increase in school taxes which is below the District’s Tax Cap of 2.34%.
How much will my taxes increase as a result of a 0.97% 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 $14.53. Please remember that this is the total increase for the entire year.
Each year as we plan, prepare and bring forward the proposed budget to our community, it is important for us to express to our taxpayers that we are thoughtful and conscientious of the impact that any increase, even if very small, has on our community especially in today’s society where we are experiencing a very high inflation rate. We continue to take pride in our record of a 0.44% increase in taxes over the last ten years which we believe cannot be found in any other school districts in Western New York. We have and will continue to always prioritize the all-embracing accountability of fighting to keep our tax levy as low as possible.
I encourage you to attend our Public Hearing on May 10, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. in the Theodore Roosevelt Cafetorium. I also hope you exercise your right to vote on May 17, 2022 at our District Budget Vote which will take place in the gymnasium at JFK HS from 12:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.
The evening of the Budget Vote, we hope that you will take advantage of our hot dog dinner that you can buy for just one dollar (hot dog, chips, drink). You can then enjoy your meal with your friends and family in our JFK Cafeteria. We have added a special sundae bar free of charge for all to enjoy! This same evening, our students will be engaged in musical performances in the JFK Auditorium and their beautiful artwork will be on display in the gymnasium thanks to our amazing Art Teachers. We are so excited about this event as it is yet another example of the steps that we are now able to make toward more normal daily operations in our schools. We look forward to welcoming and socializing with our families and community.
Thank you for your time in reading this detailed article and the entire newsletter which hopefully paints a picture of what we believe in and how we support all of our students each day. We are proud of our learners, we are grateful for our relationships with the parents and community, and we thank you so very much for trusting us with your children each day as they are the most precious gift in the world and the reason why we are all here—to educate, appreciate, love, and support all children.
With sincere appreciation,
Andrea L. Galenski
Superintendent of Schools