Its got to be something fishy seeing how the school board election and budget vote takes places 2 months after this special election... what is it that cant wait two months
According to December BOE minutes it looks like Truman School will be up for major improvements...so, it could be a vote for a capital project.
Well here goes Christine and probably Sam Masry will go next...
F-1-Approve Resignation and Posting
Motion was made by Motyka, seconded by Joyce upon the recommendation of the Superintendent of Schools,
Nicholas D. Korach to approve the resignation of Mrs. Christine Sawran as the Director of Personnel effective
Monday, January 2, 2012 and that the Board post for the position of Personnel Director.
Duly put to a vote:
ALL IN FAVOR/NONE OPPOSED
Many of us are praying a non-connected, a true family person-who is beyond drinking parties, and above the curve in drawing a line in the sand for OUR children over poli-tricks person emerges soon!
Any names out there yet? BTW: How many spots are opening and whose spots are they?
I might have missed something.........anyone know why did they pull that "SPECIAL" Mar ch 20, 2012 Election they asked to use the Bocce Court for and what was the public vote on?
I just want to comment on the newly passed code of conduct in the high school- Apparently pajamas are allowed to be worn to school now and let me tell you, they look like slobs, every one of the students who come in wearing them. They come in with slippers and pj's like they just rolled out of bed. My child was sent home once because she wore nice pajama pants to school on a half day. Would love to know whose idea this was and why ?
Maybe they want to stop at Walmart after school?
Not to change the subject.................but, why doesn't the LSD put their/OUR upcoming school business agendas the week before a meeting on the school web? Are they exempt from the NYS Open Meeting Laws?
Editorial Page » Buffalo News editorials
More compliance needed
Some boards need to do a better job of adhering to new rules for meetings
Published:February 16, 2012, 12:00 AM
It may take a little while before everyone has read the memo, but governments and school boards need to take note: The law now requires them to post more detailed information about their meetings. The sunshine just got a little brighter.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last month signed legislation that amends the state’s Open Meetings Law—already one of the nation’s strongest—to be more specific about the issues, policies and resolutions that voting boards will be discussing. The amendment took effect early this month.
Now, instead of just reporting to the public the subjects that are scheduled to be discussed at a forthcoming meeting, governments and school boards that put that information online must also post any public documents that are relevant to the discussion. Basically, the change means that any non-confidential documents members of the voting board will have at their disposal during the meetings must be made available to the public.
The word seems to be slow to spread, as does compliance. That is, perhaps, to be expected, because it is such a major change in how boards conduct business. But public officials need to understand the new law and take steps to ensure they are meeting its requirements.
This is an important improvement in the state’s Open Meetings Law, whose purpose is to let the public know how its elected officials are conducting the public’s business. A single subject line on an agenda usually doesn’t provide enough information for interested members of the public to understand the issues at stake.
The requirement for supporting documentation goes a long way toward rectifying that problem. Indeed, advocates for government transparency have hailed the legislation as the most significant improvement in the state’s open government laws in three decades.
Even the state’s top open-government watchdog says so. “Although we hear the word transparency all the time, in this case the transparency is real,” said Robert J. Freeman, executive director of the state Committee on Open Government.
With as many layers of government as New York has, word spreads slowly. Officials in the small towns of Evans and Wales said they weren’t even aware of the new requirements. In Lancaster, Town Clerk Johanna Coleman said her office lacks the technology and staff to comply with the law. In Lackawanna, meanwhile, Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski said the city was working to update its website to comply with the law. But in that city’s school district, not even an agenda is posted.
Clearly, there is work to do, and while the law accounts for organizations where compliance is not feasible, all government entities should strive to meet these reasonable standards. Voters want to be informed, and that should be enough for those officials who voters see fit to put into office.
I have been thinking all week about OUR City..........some people have beat hard on me and blamed me through the years for things I never did nor had any control over. I am criticized beyond what anyone else would ever endure for the sake of a cause. The only cause being, the betterment of our City of Lackawanna and Schools for the sake of all, especially OUR children. Thank goodness, I can say that "it wasn't me" who caused the mess and blight we are all in. I have hope in our new City administration........
The up-coming school election will stamp out what direction we will head in by the caliber of people elected to Trustee........the same ole' same ole'(love that user-name!) or the Road of Hope.
School districts stretched thin
As budget voting day nears, boards are trying to make ends meet, and taxpayers are taking notice
By Barbara O'Brien
NEWS STAFF REPORTER
Updated: February 19, 2012, 8:21 AM
The day of reckoning for school districts is almost here -- and it may turn into a long, cold night.
"You're going to start seeing huge amounts of people coming to board meetings saying 'What's going on?'" said Richard G. Timbs, executive director of the Statewide School Finance Consortium. "Well, they just ran out of money."
Last year, districts cut costs, used reserve funds and federal jobs money, and gained some union concessions to deal with a $1.3 billion reduction in state aid.
If it was bad last year, it's worse this year.
Federal jobs money is gone, most district reserves are low or running out, there is not enough state aid to keep up with recent cuts, andmandates like pension payments continue to rise.
Forget about going to property owners to make up the difference. New York's tax cap makes it difficult to raise taxes.
"As we know, property taxes in New York, in particular upstate New York, are some of the highest in the nation, so the tax cap was really an effort to slow that growth," said Elizabeth Lynam, director of studies for the Citizens Budget Commission, a statewide nonprofit.
The tax cap, which was pushed by Senate Republicans and became a campaign pledge for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, was intended to slow that growth.
Staying below the cap
The tax cap is different for each school district due to the state formula applied. For many it is in the range of 3 percent, although Cheektowaga-Sloan's is 1.1 percent. A budget with a tax levy higher than the cap requires the approval of 60 percent of voters in a public vote, instead of a simple majority (50 percent plus one vote).
If voters defeat the budget twice, the new budget freezes taxes for the following year, a prospect not many districts want to chance.
So school districts are cutting to stay below the cap.
This year's reckoning has produced startling conversations as districts throughout Western New York try to grapple with reality.
"You are going to see a ton of districts move toward educational and fiscal insolvency," said Timbs, who is the former district superintendent of Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES. "You can't lay off the same person more than once. You can't cut the same program more than once."
Teachers and staff in Amherst and Sloan agreed to freeze their salaries and step increases next year to save hundreds of thousands of dollars -- and jobs.
"The problem is of course, this is a structural issue. We're bying a year," Sloan Superintendent James P. Mazgajewski said.
He told his staff that if nothing changes, "we would last two years and then we wouldn't have any money to run our schools."
Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda is looking to eliminate 30 to 40 support staff. With a $9 million budget gap left to fill, School Superintendent Mark P. Mondanaro said he has no alternative but to increase class sizes.
Niagara Wheatfield has proposed cutting $8.35 million, which includes cutting 65 staff members and all modified sports, increasing class sizes and negotiating wage concessions.
Olean plans to close two elementary schools and may shutter two more in the future to help reduce a $3.4 million budget gap.
Clarence, which eliminated 40 staff positions for this year, is looking to cut two dozen to three dozen more staff members next year.
"It's definitely the most difficult budget cycle I've seen," Clarence Superintendent Geoffrey Hicks said.
Hicks knew it was coming, and the district had its first budget forum in November. Seventy-five people showed up, and attendance swelled to 400 at the last budget session.
"You need to let people know the information you have as fast as you can have it," he said.
Information from budget sessions is put online immediately, he said, and questions are answered at the next session. Comments and suggestions are posted on the district's website as well, making the community part of the process as the district decides how to protect its core programs.
Clarence is not just looking at cutting staff, but also hoping to share transportation and buildings-and-grounds administrators with the Akron School District.
Cuts to programs
Many school districts laid off teachers and staff, increased class sizes and cut treasured programs last year.
Orchard Park reduced extracurricular and sports programs and cut 37 positions last year, while taxes went up 5 percent.
This year's budget looks better because of cost-saving measures in energy and health care. The district would have to cut $328,000 from its first draft to meet its tax cap.
It is a sign of the times that cutting $300,000 is seen as a "good" year. Superintendent Matthew McGarrity said this year's budget is a function of the painful reductions the district made last year. There may be more to come next year, while "we're trying to live through that pain from last year," he said.
"The actual budget dilemma will continue for another couple years," predicts Erie 1 BOCES Superintendent Donald Ogilvie, "until we get predictability and reliability of revenues coming out of the state, and until districts determine a sustainable level of programming and staffing."
Superintendents present program-neutral or rollover budgets that fund all current programs, then go through numerous drafts pecking away at expenses until a final version is presented. Nothing is final until the state budget is passed and aid is known.
"You're creating budget scenarios as opposed to creating budgets," Ogilvie said.
West Seneca schools had an easier year last year than many districts, with no layoffs. Savings through renegotiation of contracts, changes to bus runs and reductions in staff through attrition left programs relatively intact. But that won't last forever.
"We've been pretty fortunate compared to other districts, because we haven't had massive layoffs," said Treasurer Brian Schulz.
Still, the district has lost about 10 percent of its work force the past few years through attrition.
He said he is striving to find the level of spending that matches the district's resources, which will not support all the programs they have in the past.
"It's no longer a budget crisis; it's a condition we have to find a solution to," Schulz said.
The "condition" in New York State includes property taxes, driven primarily by school taxes, that have consistently ranked among the highest in the nation. When property taxes are measured against median home value, nine of the nation's highest taxed counties were located in New York -- led by Monroe (2.89 percent) and Niagara (2.87 percent), according to the Tax Foundation, a low-tax advocacy group in Washington. Erie County was sixth at 2.60 percent, the tax group said. Administrators and school board members in the Lancaster School District have begun tackling the preliminary budget for the 2012-13 school year, a task made more difficult by the expiration of a $1.7 million federal stimulus grant.
"I think, like with every district, it will bring its challenges. But it's something we need to live with, so we're going to make it work," said Jamie Phillips, assistant superintendent of business and support services.
Districts are trying to find the right mix of reductions, and it's not easy.
East Aurora administrators proposed a slew of sports-related cuts totaling $32,278. Chief among them is elimination of boys varsity volleyball and modified boys and girls basketball and soccer.
"This is offensive, because we're arbitrarily slicing and cutting," Board Member Stephen Zagrobelny said. "The reality is there's no more money left here to find ... This nickel-and-diming over sports and extra-curricular activities is just going to ruin that middle and high school experience."
The day of reckoning -- budget voting day -- is May 15.
But a bleak outlook might not translate to budget failures. Last year, an overwhelming majority of budgets statewide -- more than 93 percent -- passed. Only five in Western New York were defeated.
Lynam expects the same this year, but she wonders if the growing awareness of the cap will bring out more taxpayers.
"People have been a little more charged up. They're a little more aware of the tax-cap issue. There may be a little more turnout of people who don't have students in the district," Lynam said. "It's going to be interesting."
News Staff Reporters Stephen T. Watson, Jay Rey and Karen Robinson contributed to this report.
Have You Considered Running for the School Board
PDF Version (328kb)
These are challenging times for public education. School boards are seeking men and women who find excitement and satisfaction in confronting tough challenges and working collegially to overcome them.
The board of education is a uniquely American institution. It keeps the country’s public schools flexible and responsive to the needs of their local communities. A member of a board of education in New York State takes on one of the most important responsibilities that can be assigned to any citizen: helping to plan the education of the state’s youth.
What makes a good school board member?
The legal requirements for board membership are few, but qualifications for effective service are many. The most effective board members possess most or all of these attributes:
Effective Communicator – Can describe what he or she wants and describe what others want; a good listener
Consensus Builder – Capable of working toward decisions that all can support and willing to compromise to achieve that goal
Community Participant – Enjoys meeting a variety of people, can identify the community’s key communicators and reaches out to the community
Decision Maker – Knows his or her own as well as others’ decision-making styles, can support group decision-making
Information Processor – Can organize priorities and schedules to handle lots of verbal and written information
Leader – Willing to take risks, be supportive of board colleagues, district staff and community Leader – Willing to take risks, be supportive of board colleagues, district staff and community
Team Player – Helps promote the board’s vision and goals
What does a board member do?
With children always their ultimate focus, school board members act officially only at the board table, working with other board members to accomplish the following:
•Create a shared vision
•Set student performance standards
•Oversee development of assessment program based on those standards
•Account for student achievement results
•Adopt the annual budget, aligning district resources to improve achievement
•Create a healthy environment for work and learning
•Build strategic partnerships
•Sustain the district’s progress through continuous improvement
•Adopt and maintain current policies in written format
•Hire and evaluate the superintendent
•Ratify collective bargaining agreements
•Maintain strong ethical standards
How do I become a candidate?
School board members in New York State, except for those in the five largest cities—Buffalo, New York City, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers— receive no remuneration except the satisfaction that comes from rendering an indispensable public service.
Generally, school board candidates must be at least 18 years old, qualified voters in the school district and able to read and write. They must be residents of their districts continuously for one year (as little as 30 days or as long as three years in some city school districts) before the election. They cannot be employed by the board on which they serve or live in the same household with a family member who is also a member of the same school board.
Local school board members in New York State are elected, except for those in New York City and Yonkers who are appointed. The method of election may vary from district to district. Check with your superintendent of schools or your district clerk to learn about the voting plan in your district.
With limited exceptions, school board members serve three-, four- or five-year terms. Terms are staggered so all board positions are never open at the same time. By state law, school board and budget elections, in all districts except Albany and the Big 5, must be held on the third Tuesday in May.
Procedures for filing petitions for vacancies on a school board vary depending upon the type of school district. Generally, candidates must submit a nominating petition to the school district clerk. The petition must be signed by at least 25 qualified district voters or two percent of the number of those who voted in the previous annual election, whichever number is greater. In small city school districts, nominating petitions must be signed by at least 100 qualified voters. The petition must include the candidate’s name and residence, the vacancy in question, the incumbent’s (if any) name, the residences of the persons who signed the petition and the length of the term of office for which the candidate is being nominated. This petition must be filed with the district clerk at least 30 days (20 days in small city districts) before the election meeting, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
State law requires all candidates for election to a board of education to file a sworn statement with the district clerk disclosing their campaign expenses. If expenditures made by the candidate or by others on the candidate’s behalf exceed $500, a statement also should be filed with the commissioner of education. Expenditures of not more than $25 may be made without the candidate’s permission if the donor or donors file a sworn statement with the clerk and the commissioner stating that the candidate did not approve the expenditure.
Details concerning these requirements may be obtained from your district clerk or from the Bureau of Finance, Management and Information Services (SMIS), New York State Education Department, Albany, NY 12234.
New York State School Boards Association | 24 Century Hill Drive, Suite 200 | Latham, New York 12110-2125
(518) 783-0200 phone | (518) 783-0211 fax | email@example.com
so it's about 2 1/2 months away from the election and has anyone come forward to run yet?
School Budget Work Session
Date: Monday March 5, 2012
Place: Martin Road Elementary School
Trying to head US off at the pass?
$44 mil+ is more than enough to educate appr. 1800 children......don't ya think?!?
Gas is heading toward $5/gl as we all know.......Do people/businesses in the City of Lackawanna really want their school taxes to go up again too?!?
How much more patronage/nepotism can we afford to pay for??!! "The Kids-The Kids!" is their battle cry.........but reality is, it plays out for their personal gain at the detriment of our school age children/programs/graduation rate, etc. And then we still rank at the bottom of the barrel!?!
Business First 2012/13' school ranking are on the horizon........! Be on the look-out for them!
Here we go again. Instead of fixing the problems at the schools, your solution is to throw more good money at it. How about holding the administration, teachers, teacher aides accountable. Certainly spending over $20,000 per student per year is MORE than enough. Any person with some common sense would ask what is wrong. Why are we near the bottom year after year? Why do our children decide to leave school knowing full well that they will remain in poverty? Can't blame the students because over the years the results are the same. Students come and go but the faculty remains. Try this one, do your job better and maybe we will see results.
Do you really believe that we are bad mouthing the district? That concept is laughable. Seems that everybody in the county laughs at us. They thank the almighty that we exist because we make them look better. Nothing will ever change until the people working for the district understand and make the effort to change. We are demanding the change. We are going to hold the administration and staff accountable. If you can't do or refuse to do the job then get out. These are our children's lives that you are playing with. The result of the district now is more welfare. Just doing the same will just increase that burden.
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