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Superintendent's Message: Board Approves Budget

I am excited to announce that the Phelps-Clifton Springs CSD Board of Education has adopted a 2018-2019 budget that supports the district’s vision and mission, advances strategic goals for the coming year, and makes responsible and respectful use of the hard-earned resources of the Midlakes community.

We remain committed to helping our children to become learners and leaders who are college or career-ready and demonstrate the skills necessary to thrive in a global society.

Following an initial state budget proposal that caused substantial concern about educational funding, New York State ultimately adopted an on-time budget that included increased financial support for the Phelps-Clifton Spring CSD. While state aid allocations continue to fall short of the established Foundation Aid formula, we appreciate the efforts of our state legislators to secure more funding. We are grateful to Senator Helming and Assemblyman Kolb for their continued support of our district and their determined advocacy for our region.

Over the past few years, because of the restoration of the Gap Elimination Adjustment funds withheld from schools, our district had the opportunity to restore programs and make improvements that were not previously feasible from a financial perspective. Since this one-time restoration of state funding has already been made, we must work with more modest increases in state funding this year and anticipate similar challenges in the future. Accordingly, we have been thoughtful in our consideration of additions to our budget and strategic in our approach to meeting the needs of our students.

Subsequently, some items that were originally considered early in the budget process have not been included in the final budget. These items will be retained for future consideration, as we continue to look for opportunities to enrich the programs available to our students. Listed below are the goals that guided the decision-making process that produced the 2018-2019 budget adopted by the Board of Education. This budget successfully maintains all current programs while focusing on a few key areas for improvement.

1. The development and implementation of curriculum and instruction that advances achievement and makes academic success and college and career readiness attainable for all students.

2. The advancement of a safe and nurturing environment that provides for the social, emotional, and psychological well-being of all students within the educational setting.

3. The creation of career development opportunities that prepare all students to compete and thrive in a global society and create access to meaningful pathways after high school.

4. The strategic use of non-instructional staff to maximize the impact of district programs and the use of achievement data to empower students and staff to perform at the highest level.

5. The creation of a robust communication plan and redesigned website that provide stakeholders with easy and transparent access to important information, highlight our students’ work and achievements, and advance the growth and stature of the school district and our community. These goals have led us to prioritize the following elements of the 2018-2019 budget:

Organizational Realignment to Prioritize Curriculum, Instruction, and Communication For many years, following the reduction of administrative positions for budgetary reasons, the position of Director of Curriculum & Instruction has been responsible for the extensive data reporting work required by the NYS Education Department, limiting the time available to lead the continued development of our academic programs. Likewise, other staffing limitations have led our website to become significantly outdated and we have not maintained our capacity to be transparent and communicate effectively with our stakeholders. By redistributing funds made available by not replacing a non-instructional position vacated through retirement, reassigning these duties within the organization, and removing some one-time items from the budget, we are able to address these needs without adding costs. • Part-time Shared Data Coordinator- This .5 position, which is eligible for BOCES aid, will enable us to restore focus to the position of Director of Curriculum & Instruction, fulfill our state data reporting requirements, and use achievement data to promote student success.

Communications Coordinator This civil service position will enable us to build and maintain a more modern website and develop our capacity to provide important information to students, parents, staff, and community members.

Social Worker We currently have two Social Workers (K-6 and 7-12) who carry large caseloads and work extremely hard to meet the growing mental health needs within the district. By adding a Social Worker position and realigning grade level assignments, we can provide more support and further promote a safe and nurturing environment for all students.

CTE/Career Development Teacher Requirements from the NYS Education Department and the changing employment landscape have increased our obligation to provide strategic career development opportunities to our students. By adding a Career and Technical Education (CTE) Teacher position at the Middle/High School level, we will be able to expand and create programs that enable students to develop employable skills, explore career paths, and make informed decisions for the future.

We are excited that the 2018-2019 budget maintains the improvements made in recent years and builds our capacity to advance student achievement, safety, and career opportunities. By focusing on a few key areas of growth, we have remained responsible to our taxpayers with a tax levy impact of 1.9%, less than half of our calculated tax cap (3.86%). With annual educational funding always in doubt and difficult budgets a realistic possibility in the years ahead, we have made a concerted effort to be prudent, conservative, and future-minded in developing this budget.

Thank you to all members of the Midlakes community for your continued support as we work together to build bright futures for our students.

Matthew Sickles