Opinion

With much of the country - and the world - pre-occupied with the economy and worried about the future, it may seem at times that there is little to celebrate in this holiday season. However, one of the benefits of being educators is that we get to see the future every day in the enthusiasm on our students' faces. From the viewpoint of Roslyn's schools, I am pleased to report that the future looks very bright.

To counter an endless stream of bad news about how poorly the stock market is performing, why not read about how well our students are performing? Both on our website and in this local paper, we regularly keep you up to date on all of the incredible accomplishments of our students so that all residents can see the results of their investment in our kids' education. The list of awards and honors will grow much longer as the school year progresses, and it's a great antidote to that sinking feeling every time we hear about another round of layoffs or bankruptcies.

Unfortunately, I can't be as confident about the school district's fiscal outlook for next year, as I am about how much our students will achieve. But I can assure you that our careful preparation of the 2009-10 school budget is already well under way. And, even though the property tax cap may not become law this year, we are nevertheless going to build a budget that reflects both the current economic reality, as well as the ongoing educational needs of our children. In addition, we are taking administrative measures to control spending in the current school year in ways that won't directly affect instruction. While many challenges lie ahead, we should draw comfort from the fact that we, as a school community, will be able to face those challenges from a strong fiscal position.

In one piece of good financial news, Governor Paterson has withdrawn his proposal to cut school aid in the middle of the current school year. This means that our educational programs can continue to the end of 2008-09 without any immediate concern about financing. However, the state is still facing a large deficit for next year, and we have to assume that Roslyn's already minuscule share of the state-aid pie will get even smaller. In my letter about the fiscal situation and its impact on schools to the community in October, I explained how a reduction in aid could adversely affect even a district like Roslyn, which gets relatively little state aid to begin with. I do, however, remain confident that the Roslyn School District will weather this economic storm just as it has come through troubled times in the past.

My purpose in this letter is to focus on how much we have to be happy about at this festive time of year. Throughout this month, students have been performing in winter concerts to the delight of parents. We just completed a fall sports season filled with wonderful highlights that were celebrated at an awards ceremony earlier in December. Many high school seniors are beginning to receive good news about college admissions. Our young people have shown a spirit of generosity that inspires them to collect food and toys for the less fortunate and raise money for many worthy causes, among many other acts of kindness. And through it all, they come to school each day prepared to learn; and they do us proud as they show us the way to a better future.

Times may be hard and there is great uncertainty, but let us not forget that our school community has blessings in abundance - our children foremost among them. May I wish everyone in the Roslyn school community a very joyous holiday season and a healthy and happy 2009.


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