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Board President: Remaining Strong and United during ‘Uncertain Times’

If you have glanced at a newspaper or turned on the television or radio over the past couple of months a theme of uncer­tainty has been most pervasive. It seems as though every broadcast, article or news show begins with the phrase, “these uncertain times.”

However, I can say with absolute certainty that the level of strength, compassion and capacity for caring in our community is unmatched.

The term “Midlakes Strong” was not born in March of 2020 but its meaning has definitely been realized in the days and weeks that followed.

The students and staff that call our campus home have been at the heart of this community for more than 50 years. The block “M” at Ollie Cook Stadium may not be the geographic center of Phelps/Clifton Springs but it’s the emotional center of who we are and what we are all about.

Whether it is in our auditorium, during our athletic events, or just walking our hallways, it’s easy to see how this commu­nity cares for its District, the campus and our students.

These past few weeks and months have also shown the District’s capacity to care for our community. The day we moved to remote learning was the first example.

Parents and students were facing a new reality with many questions and a healthy fear of the unknown. That day, administra­tors, faculty and staff carried out a plan to deliver educational materials to approxi­mately 1,500 Midlakes students.

They did it in an organized and timely way to promote the health, safety and sanity of all who arrived on campus.

A few days later came one of many updates given by Superintendent Matt Sickles. This update – possibly the most important of them all – highlighted the way the District would provide meals for students and families in need.

Currently, the District is providing break­fast and lunches for about 875 students six days a week. In April, approximately 44,000 meals were delivered through a coordinated effort by our food service, maintenance and transportation depart­ments. Many teachers and community members continue to be part of this effort.

Everyone should be applauded for all their hard work and dedication to the students.

The first Saturday in May was marked with a community-wide chicken BBQ and grocery distribution. A partnership between the District, many community organizations and more than 170 individ­ual volunteers helped deliver nearly 3,300 chicken dinners and 800 boxes of grocer­ies to many resident of our community. The event was aptly named “Midlakes Strong.”

These are just a couple of the many examples of how our District has stepped up and stepped in to help students and families adjust and make the best of “these uncertain ....” Well, I’m sure you can finish that sentence.

Making the best of the situation is what the Board of Education and the adminis­trative team have set out to do with the 2020-2021 school budget. With little in the way of good news from the state or federal government, we have taken great care in constructing and adopting a budget that is fair to our neighbors as well as continuing to do what’s best for kids.

These efforts will not end with a budget vote on June 9. The District remains com­mitted to being thoughtful and transparent with the decisions we make regarding the education of our students. We also remain committed to serving our community as a strong partner and tireless advocate for all who live here.

On behalf of the entire Board of Edu­cation, I thank you in advance for your continued support. We all look forward to seeing our hallways and classrooms filled as soon as possible.

Ryan Davis is president of the Phelps-Clifton Springs Central School District Board of Education.