May 2023 Updates

Posted by Mrs. Andrea Galenski on 11/3/2023

It is with sincere gratitude that you take a few moments to read this comprehensive District Newsletter which features the proposed 2023-2024 Budget.  There is important information included for your review as you prepare to cast your vote on May 16, 2023 when our annual Budget Vote takes place at John F. Kennedy High School.

It is important for me to begin by sharing that last summer, our Leadership Team made the strongest commitment possible to brainstorm, plan and be ready for implementation of what we referred to as a District Positivity Push.  This intense planning resulted in what we believe has been one of the most successful, positive, rewarding, and extraordinary years to date.  Each school developed specific building plans that focused on engaging students in school-wide activities, increasing overall school spirit, building relationships, and creating school environments of pride, respect, safety, and trust. 

Through this Positivity Push, we have recognized a marked decrease in student discipline in all schools which in turn has encouragingly impacted the culture in each building to be one of support, joy, care, leadership, positivity, enhanced relationships, and excitement.  This combined effort to improve the cultures in our schools has been a joint effort with strong dedication from everyone working in our schools along with all of our parents/guardians at home.  We have been so proud to observe our school events be so well attended which proves how the positive energy of our students has spread to our parents, family members, and our community. 

While attending our most recent drama production, Oklahoma, I couldn’t help but notice how many students, parents, grandparents, and community members filled our magnificent auditorium to celebrate and honor all of our performers. In fact, one parent sitting in front of me turned around to share that she didn’t even have any children in the production but still came to support the event.  We both shared how impressed we were with the acting and singing and what incredible talent our students have in our District. We laughed and smiled all night long!

Along with our District Positivity Push, another area that we focused on enhancing in all schools this year was Restorative Practices.  We have been partnering with the Erie County Restorative Justice Coalition (ECRJC) for the past four years and this year, we were eager to strongly concentrate on what is referred to as Restorative Circles.  We are incredibly proud that the use of Restorative Circles is taking place in all classrooms and schools in our District beginning as early as in our PreK Classrooms.  Please ask your child or grandchild about their experiences participating in these Circles and how it has positively impacted them in some way. 

During our Superintendent Conference Day on March 17th, I participated in a learning session on Restorative Practices and was overwhelmed with joy in hearing feedback from one of our PreK teachers. She shared how much the children look forward to these Circles and how they let her know if she has forgotten to conduct a Circle for any particular day.  That proved to me just how meaningful this time is for our students to engage in Restorative Circles which gives them the opportunity to talk, share, listen, and develop positive relationships with their peers, teachers, staff members and administrators.  All children and even us as adults can benefit from this important time to get to know one another, to learn from each other, and to create meaningful connections.

We even extended the invitation to our parents/guardians this year to learn about Restorative Practices and to engage in Restorative Circles so that families know how much we value this experience for our students and the reasons why.  We would like to thank everyone who participated and hope that you gained valuable knowledge and hands on experience about Restorative Practices specifically the Circles and why that component is such an important part of our day in all schools.  We look forward to continuing our great work with the Erie County Restorative Justice Coalition as we look for ways to strengthen our partnership and pursue additional work with Restorative Circles in all of our schools PreK-12.

As we think about the District Positivity Push that has taken place in our schools this year, one thing that we believe is contributing to the increased excitement is our proposed Cheektowaga-Sloan District Beautification & Athletic Facility Enhancement Capital Project 2023.  On February 8, 2023, the District made a special announcement about this anticipated project which includes the following enhancements:

JFK Middle/High School

  • Multipurpose Turf Field-to be used for football, soccer, practices for various sports, physical education classes, and outside events
  • Multipurpose Field Lighting Installations-to be used for evening events
  • Installation of a brand new Electronic/Video Score Board on our Multipurpose Field—this will have video capability for special nighttime events
  • New Concession Building-this will include Restrooms, Concessions area & Storage—it will have a central location for access during sporting practices/games and District-wide events for all to use and enjoy
  • Exterior Signage Upgrades—New modern electronic sign installed

 

Field House

  • Interior Building Improvements—upgrades will be made to modernize our current Field House to create a fresh, updated appearance

 

Woodrow Wilson Elementary School

  • Installation of a brand new Playground—age appropriate equipment for our intermediate level students, grades 3-5
  • Exterior Signage Upgrades—New modern electronic sign installed

 

Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School

  • Installation of a brand new Playground—age appropriate for our primary students, grades PreK-2
  • Exterior Signage Upgrades—New modern electronic sign installed

 

It is most important to share with our community that we were able to develop a plan to pay for this proposed $8.5million dollar project in full with money that we have thoughtfully saved so that our community will not have any additional taxes imposed on them.  If successfully approved on May 16th, this project will have no tax impact on our community members.  We invite you to please look at the conceptual images created by District Architects, Young + Wright Architectural, that will be on display in the John F. Kennedy High School Gymnasium on May 16, 2023 during our Budget Vote.  Please note that you can also find these conceptual images within the center portion of this newsletter.  We hope that these conceptual images will provide our community with an idea of the amazing improvements that we hope to bring to all children in our District PreK-12.  We are beyond thrilled to bring this proposed project forward to our voters and hope that with your support, we are able to observe this project evolve into reality for all to appreciate and enjoy.  As the leader of our tremendous District, it is important for me to express how truly heartwarming it has been to develop a project that we know will bring joy, excitement, and a deep sense of pride to all of our students, families, and our community for many years to come.  This is a special time for me and for all of us here in the Cheektowaga-Sloan School District.  We all thank you for your support on May 16th!

We are committed to our taxpayers, as we have been for the last eleven years, in fighting for what we believe in and what we feel our community fairly 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 closely controlled saving actions that we have been able to remain below the tax cap since 2013 with an average of only a 0.36% increase over the last eleven years. We are extremely proud of this record and are inspired and optimistic that we can uphold this reputation now and for many years to come.  We are once again asking for the partnership and help of our taxpayers on May 16, 2023.

What will be asking for from our taxpayers?

We will be asking for a 0.46% increase in school taxes which is below the District’s Tax Cap of 2.13%.

How much will my taxes increase as a result of a 0.46% 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 $11.26.  Please remember that this is the total increase for the entire year.

Each year as we attentively develop, prepare and bring forward the proposed budget to our community, it is important for us to express to our taxpayers that we are comprehensive, insightful, and conscientious of the impact that any increase, even if very small, has on our community especially at present, where we are experiencing an extremely elevated inflation rate.  We continue to take pride in our record of a 0.36% increase in taxes over the last eleven years which we believe cannot be found in any other school districts in Western New York.  We have and will continue to make our highest priority be one that safeguards the District’s tax levy so that it is as low as possible for our taxpayers.

I encourage you to attend our Public Hearing on May 9, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. in the Theodore Roosevelt Cafetorium.  I also hope you exercise your right to vote on May 16, 2023 at our District Budget Vote which will take place in the gymnasium at John F. Kennedy High School 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 traditional hot dog dinner that you can buy for just one dollar (hot dog, chips, drink). We hope that you will then enjoy your meal with your friends and family in our JFK HS Cafeteria.  Since last year was such a success, we decided to once again include a unique sundae bar free of charge for all to enjoy!  Throughout the evening, you will find our students engaged in musical performances in the JFK HS Auditorium and their delightful artwork will be on display in the gymnasium. This year, we will also be offering students the opportunity to create artwork at a crafting table and we will also have a drama table and technology display for our community to experience.  We are thrilled about this upcoming event and look forward to greeting and intermingling with our students, staff, families and community.

Thank you for your time in reading this thorough newsletter which hopefully captures what we value and consider to be most important as we educate and support all of our students each day.  We are beyond proud of our learners this school year, we are truly appreciative of the positive relationships we have made with our parents and community, and we thank you so very much for entrusting us with your children each day.  We have the greatest responsibility in the world—to work with your precious children each day and to provide them with the highest quality education possible so that they flourish in our schools and into the future.

With sincere gratitude,

Andrea L. Galenski

Superintendent of Schools

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