Friday, March 22, 2019

2019-20 school budget development underway

The 2019-20 budget development process is underway, as School Business Manager Keith Heid presented a preliminary look at the budget numbers during the March Board of Education meeting. Mr. Heid reviewed our district’s projected expenditures based on the current academic programs and services we offer. He then recapped revenue estimates, including the amount of state aid we can expect to receive based on the governor’s state budget proposal. As mentioned in my previous blog post, our district could expect an increase of $151,731, or 1.2 percent more, in Foundation Aid under Governor Cuomo’s proposed Executive Budget.

This first look at budget estimates show a baseline budget gap of nearly $650,000 for the 2019-20 school year. That said, I remind everyone, including myself, that these are preliminary numbers, and that the budget process remains fluid as we wait for state budget negotiations to conclude in a few weeks, and we get a final determination on the amount of state aid our schools will receive.

In the meantime, as we move forward with developing our 2019-20 budget proposal, school leaders and administrators will continue to look closely at instructional and department-level priorities to identify areas for cost savings. At the same time, we will make every effort to preserve educational programs and opportunities that address our student needs, while being fiscally responsible to our community and working within the confines of the state’s tax levy cap.

There are two more budget workshops scheduled before the Board adopts its 2019-20 school budget proposal. I encourage parents, staff, students and community members to attend these workshops and learn more about the budget proposal before the public vote on Tuesday, May 21.

The workshops will take place:

  • Tuesday, April 9 at 6:30 p.m. at WES, and 
  • Saturday, April 13 at 9:00 a.m. at WJSHS    

Honoring women in history

This month during the morning announcements in honor of Women's History Month, our high school students have been recognizing one woman each day who has made a significant impact on history. They have honored civil rights activist Rosa Parks, Noble Prize winning scientist Marie Curie, poet Maya Angelou and Susan B. Anthony, a prominent leader in the women's suffrage movement and champion of women's rights, among others.

To borrow a page from their playbook, I thought it would be interesting, as an educational leader and a woman, to pay homage to the first female superintendent of schools in the United States. Like our students, I first had to do some research. After an online search, I learned that the honor of being the first female superintendent of a public school belongs to Phebe Sudlow of Iowa!

In the mid-1800s, Miss Sudlow was a public school teacher in rural Iowa for 12 years before being asked by the school superintendent in the city of Davenport to teach in his schools. Three years later, she was appointed principal. But before accepting the principal position, Miss Sudlow made it clear to the school board that she expected to receive the same salary that would be offered to a man – and she refused to consider working for less. After thinking it over, the school board agreed to her request and she became the first woman superintendent in our country's history.

Not only was she the first woman to earn the title of superintendent, but she also assumed all the responsibilities of school leadership. Equally important, I learned that Phebe Sudlow was a true warrior for equal rights! During a time when male educators dominated the field and earned quite a bit more than women doing the same job, Sudlow led the charge for equal pay for women educators who were teachers during that era. She also became the first female professor in the English Department at the University of Iowa in 1878, even though she had no formal college degree.

Miss Sudlow was a member of a charitable women’s group in the late 1800s, known as the Ladies' Industrial Relief Society in Davenport, that operated an “industrial school” for poor people in the city. There students learned sewing and cooking skills that would help them land good jobs.

Miss Sudlow paved the way for me and other women who are in leadership roles in today’s schools. I hope to pay that forward by inspiring more women in education to follow the path to leadership as administrators in their schools and districts.

Drama Club production of Aladdin Jr was pure magic

Finally, I cannot overstate how proud I was sitting in the audience for the WJSHS Drama Club’s performance of the musical, Aladdin Jr., last Friday night. I was incredibly impressed with the level of talent of the cast members and the skill of the stage crew. It really was magic! Congratulations to all the students involved, including:

  • ShaQuan Jenkins, Aladdin
  • Jah’Nye Griffin, the Genie
  • Leigh-Amber Loeper, Princess Jasmine

And the entire cast and stage crew: Mark Pompey, Taleea Watkins, Jahan Malloy, Steffanie Mammoser, Anisa Parsons, Kahlysa Parsons, Tyler Beauregard, Jared Sierra, Olivia Jones, Jade Chastin, Emma Macie, Daryn Curry, Paige Grimmick, Jaelyn Sharpe, An'Twanaizja Uptegrow, Paige McCulloch, Megan Polaro, Mikayla Caminiti, Abby Zawistowski, Camryn Reedy, Kevin Cecchetto, Kendryek Flynn, Melissa Mayo, Mimi Kaurejo.

Bravo to club advisers Ms. Becker and Mrs. Brochu for your hard work to make this happen. I look forward to seeing what the Drama Club has in store (or on stage) next year!

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