Friday, December 21, 2018

Much to be grateful for heading into 2019

December has been a whirlwind at WCSD! As we approach the holiday break, there is much to be grateful for heading into 2019. 

Although we bid a fond farewell to WES principal Loida Lewinter, I am excited that WJSHS assistant principal Kelly Webster will step into the leadership role at the elementary school. Over the past two years, I have watched with pride as Mrs. Webster has grown into a knowledgeable and capable school leader. She will transition to the elementary school in early January. For those who don’t know her, Mrs. Webster served as a fourth-grade teacher at WES for several years before becoming the assistant principal at the junior-senior high school. While assistant principal, she made instant connections with students and served as an adviser for the Character Education/No Place for Hate program. She also collaborated with teachers and staff to launch a new student-mentoring program this year. I have no doubt junior-senior high school students and staff alike will miss her cheerful and energetic nature, yet I am more than confident she is the perfect choice to lead Watervliet Elementary School. Read more about Mrs. Webster's appointment to WES principal

District awarded prekindergarten grant 

Earlier this month, I learned that our grant application to begin a prekindergarten program for 3-year-old children was approved by the State Education Department. This is exciting news for the district! Having the ability to offer a high-quality early childhood education will prepare children for kindergarten and plant the seeds for success throughout their school years. For this program, our district has partnered with Achievements, a community-based organization that currently operates several prekindergarten programs in the former Maplewood School. The program will serve 14 3-year-olds and is expected to begin in late January. Read more about the new prekindergarten program 

Additional funding for Food is Fuel

Our friend Bill Sheehy of the Watervliet Civic Center recently shared the good news with me that the elementary school’s Food is Fuel program will receive an additional $5,500 thanks to the annual Backpack Heroes campaign. Backpack Heroes is a partnership between CBS 6, Fidelis Care and the Regional Food Bank that raises funds to support the backpack program, which helps alleviate hunger by providing children with backpacks full of nutritious and easy-to-prepare foods each Friday so they have food to eat during the weekend. You may recall that Watervliet Elementary School served as a site for one of the four live telethons hosted by CBS 6 News anchor Liz Bishop in the fall. I thank Fidelis Care, CBS 6 News and the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York for their support of Watervliet’s children. I also applaud Mr. Sheehy for working tirelessly on behalf of the city’s children and securing enough food from Hannaford to provide 30 students at WJSHS with food for the weekend.
Watervliet Civic Center Executive Director Bill Sheehy and 6th grade teacher Nikki LaBoissiere work the phones during the Backpack Heroes telethon at Watervliet Elementary School in October.

Watervliet elementary and district staff, Fidelis Care representatives and CBS 6 News anchor Liz Bishop with the tally of the total amount raised during four Backpack Heroes telethons. 

Making holidays bright

Finally, I thank our student athletes for their community service. A group of fall and winter sports athletes recently visited the Watervliet Senior Center to serve the holiday lunch. It was heartwarming to watch the students interact with the seniors, and I felt a deep sense of pride hearing so many positive comments from the seniors about our students. Great job everyone!

Up next: school budget development begins

Looking ahead to the first few months of the new year, my focus will turn to creating the school budget. Governor Cuomo will deliver his State of the State address and his Executive Budget proposal in January. Using the fiscal data from the Executive Budget as a baseline, school business manager Keith Heid and I will work together to develop a proposed fiscal plan for the 2019-20 school year that is mindful of our commitment to students and the community. The Board of Education will provide input on the budget proposal and will then adopt the plan in April. The district's proposed plan will go before city residents for a public vote on May 21, 2019.

Please enjoy happy, healthy and restful holidays celebrated with family and friends! I wish you all the best for a healthy and successful 2019!

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