eNews, Updates and Reminders February 08

eNews, Updates and Reminders

February 08 2021



Good news
We are planning to restore programs & services

We are pleased to let you know that we will be restoring some of the programs and services that were cut prior to the start of the school year.  As you know, the district implemented many cuts, including more than 400 positions, due to a state advisory that up to 20% of state aid could be withheld due to the financial impact of COVID-19 on the state.   Beginning in August 2020, portions of our state aid payments were withheld, serving as an indicator of what might continue to come and leaving us little choice.   This $28.5 million reduction in programs, services, and staffing was a necessary and responsible step, but it has been devastating to our school community, especially our students.


Up until this point, we have not restored programs and services, including increasing in-person options, because what the advisory warned did come to fruition. Funding was withheld from eleven of 23 aid payments.  Further,  subsequent advisories warned that reductions might continue, or perhaps be greater, if the state fiscal picture did not improve.   


In January, the local media reported that state leaders said further aid cuts would not take place and that districts should expect to receive full aid payments. While the reports were promising, the district did not receive any official confirmation, or the necessary guidance and timeline regarding the restoration of funds, until last week.


On Monday, February 1, the district received confirmation that school aid will not be withheld moving forward and that prior aid payments will be made whole.  This is great news and means the restoration of programs, services, and staff is underway.


Last week, the board of education approved resolutions to rehire staff for our Pre-K program, which was launched last week. The planning for the Pre-K program had already been underway as the district was notified in early January what portion of the Pre-K grant funds we would receive.  Until then, the program was paused because the grant funding had not been authorized.  We are pleased to finally be able to offer this important program to our youngest learners.


District leaders are now planning for the restoration of many student programs and services that have been paused since September with priority on increasing in-person opportunities, intervention and services and reducing the class size of virtual classes. 


While we would like nothing more than to open the doors and welcome all students and staff back into the schools, this is not immediately feasible as COVID-19 safety requirements and protocols must be implemented.  This includes many measures including social distancing.  


The work to restore programming and staff is on an aggressive timeline. We are excited to begin a phase-in approach and soon see more students in our schools.  We are aiming for March 1 or sooner.  We will share more information soon.  Because there is likely to be additional learning options available to you, please look for a survey later this week that will aid us in our planning.  We know many families are still reluctant about in-person learning options, so an all-virtual option will still be available for the remainder of the school  year.  



Meals 

Hybrid Students
Students who attend school in-person (hybrid) will continue to receive meals to take home on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.


Virtual Students
Students who attend school virtually can pick up their 7-day meal boxes on Wednesdays at designated time and locations. 


Attendance Matters More than Ever
#projectbehere

Whether your child attends virtually or hybrid, daily attendance is extremely important. 
Here are tip sheets from “Attendance Works” for helping your child succeed.

Elementary School: 

 English

 Spanish
Middle and High School: 

 English

 Spanish


We are making it easier for you to sign up for the Parent Portal where you can access your child’s daily attendance, schedule, grades, assessment data and more.  We look forward to sharing that with you soon.  


Community Collaboration
After School Programs

The MEDIALAB, a filmmaking, television, social media program in partnership with Proctors.  This virtual program, for students in grades 6-8, offers young filmmakers the practical knowledge and technical expertise needed to capitalize on the digital revolution sweeping the film, video and media-making communities.  The program starts February 22 and runs through May 6.  It will be held virtually, Monday through Thursday from 4-5:30 p.m.  For more information click here.  To apply, click here.  


2021-2022 Budget Development

2021-2022 Budget development is underway.  The budget development calendar and budget presentations are posted on our website here.  We will continue to provide updates and post the presentations as we move through the budget season.   


Congratulations

Congratulations to Victoria Candida, a social studies teacher at Schenectady High School, who is a winner of a New York State Farm Teacher Assist Program Grant.  She will receive $2,500 to implement her idea, a culturally responsive educational video game called "Liberation."   More including a Video.


You can read news stories on our website here


Black History Month

February is Black History Month, a federally recognized celebration of the contributions African Americans have made to this country and a time to reflect on the continued struggle for racial justice.  


This month is about remembering, reflecting, recognizing, celebrating, and embracing the opportunity to grow and unite. Let’s encourage our children and students to celebrate their heritage, to dream, and persist in making dreams reality.   Video


A Message from President Biden
A Proclamation on National Black History Month, 2021


National Museum of African American History & Culture
Knowing the Past Open the Door to the Future

Time
This is How February Became Black History Month


Reminder

Next week, February 15 - 19 is Winter Recess

February 15 is Presidents’ Day.  District offices will be closed. 


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