Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Reflecting on 2011-12

As I reflect back on the 2011-12 school year and my first six months as superintendent of schools, I am proud of all we have accomplished as a district, especially in this era of significant changes in education.

This year, school districts across New York were required to develop budgets within the limits of the state’s new property tax levy cap law. Achieving this was especially challenging for small city school districts, like ours, because of inequities in state aid formulas and disbursement. We were able to rise to the challenge and passed the school budget by a 71 percent margin—thanks in large part to the spirit of cooperation and team work in our school community and the support of the greater community.   

Watervliet’s teachers and administrators invested a great deal of time this past year preparing for the implementation of the state’s New Common Core Learning standards, which will take effect this coming school year. Many, many hours have been spent working to make sure that our curriculum reflects the new standards.

In addition to the new standards, in 2012-13 New York’s schools must enact a new more rigorous system for teacher and principal evaluations or risk losing state aid. Fortunately, Watervliet is on track with its new evaluation process and was one of only a handful of schools in the immediate Capital Region—and 164 districts across the state—to submit its Annual Professional Performance Review plans to the State Education Department (SED) on time.

Despite the changes and challenges before us, Watervliet schools continued to focus on our mission: to inspire, educate and challenge every student, every day! I wanted to share with you a list of just some of what we accomplished this year and should all take pride in. 

2011-12 accomplishments:

October 2011: WHS Athletic Hall of Fame inducted one championship team and nine athletes, coaches.

November 2011: Three Watervliet City School District teachers achieved National Board Certification – a voluntary credentialing process widely considered to be the "gold standard" for teaching excellence.

December 2011: The community approved an $18.9 million facilities renovation project by a vote of 234-30. The district will now move forward with renovations that will improve the learning environment and enhance the athletic fields, including the addition of a track.

January 2012: A video project produced by junior high school students and teachers won a grand prize of $2,500 in the Blueshield of Northeastern New York healthy video contest.

February 2012: Watervliet Junior-Senior High School music teacher Theresa Bradway was named a WNYT Channel 13 Top Teacher.

February 2012: Mayor Michael Manning chooses Watervliet Jr.-Sr. High School as the site to deliver his 2012 State of the City at Watervliet Jr.-Sr. High School.

February 2012: The Watervliet Teachers’ Association ratified a new contract by an overwhelming margin, and agreed to changes that will save the school district nearly $4 million over the length of the five-year deal.

March 2012: Watervliet Boys’ Basketball standout Jordan Gleason was selected for WNYT’s Boys’ All Star team!

March 2012: Watervliet High School junior Ailayia Demand was named to the Times Union Small School Girls' Basketball All-Star Team for the third time!

April 2012: Two Watervliet City School District unions—administrators and support staff—agreed to health insurance changes that will result in nearly $100,000 in savings.

May 2012: The Watervliet High School Spring Blood Drive was a huge success; collecting 86 pints of blood, and exceeding its 77-pint goal.

May 2012: Watervliet voters approved the $23.1 million budget for the 2012-13 school year by a margin of 234 to 95.

May 2012: Twenty-two (22) Watervliet High School students were inducted into the National Honor Society.

June 2012: Watervliet High School senior Amelia Walker—a student in the BOCES Career & Technical School’s Computer Network Technician program—was named Capital Region BOCES Career and Tech Center Student of the Year.

June 2012: More than 100 Watervliet High School seniors received their diplomas in June; and more than 95 percent of the Class of 2012 plan to continue their education at either two- or four-year colleges in the fall.