Friday, 18 September 2009 00:00Over the past few days I have watched from the windows in my office as staff and students have visited The Wheatley School to participate in the annual rituals accompanying the opening of school. The new eighth grade parents and students always bring a smile to me as they hover nervously around the lockers to become assured that they will have access when school starts. Students at North Side are back on the playground and simply cannot wait for the doors to open, while seniors have returned to take their yearbook photos and claim their rightful place on the Wheatley throne.
This year I have selected a theme that brings us back to our core purpose: “We must keep our focus on what really matters: Every child who walks through the doors of our schools.” As we plan programs and activities, I would ask that we all keep this theme in mind. Too often we become bogged down with the “bricks and budget” issues and forget that our schools exist to nurture the best in each child: morally, socially, artistically, emotionally and physically. These are the words of our Mission Statement and we need to use it as our guide throughout this year.
You will notice that an incredible amount of work has been accomplished in all of our buildings. Work on the Wheatley roof began the day after our schools closed in June and while the major portions have been completed, we have some finishing touches to be done throughout the month of September. In the interest of safety, work will occur only after school hours. We are planning the promised lasagna party to celebrate the community’s gift of the Wheatley roof on Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 6:30 p.m., just prior to the Board of Education Work Session. Look for details to be posted on the district website. We have used the EXCEL funds to finally address the flooding in the entranceways to North Side and Wheatley. Generators are being installed at North Side and Willets Road, all six bathrooms have been renovated at North Side, univentilators have been repaired and white boards have been installed in all buildings.
Our updated Plan for Results continues to have student performance and engagement at the forefront of the district’s priority areas. Other priority areas include fiscal accountability, community relations, technology accessibility, wellness and safety, facilities maintenance and governance. The board established several committees to support many of these priority areas and I do hope that you consider participating on these committees or lending your constructive voices at board of education meetings. Committee applications can be downloaded from the district website.
As part of our attention to safety, we have added a direct link to the Parents For Megan’s Law website (PFML) so that district residents can be updated by email whenever a sex offender moves into our district’s boundaries. Registration forms for these email updates can be downloaded from the district website or directly from the PFML website. A Safe Schools Helpline link has also been added to the website which provides another avenue for students to be able to anonymously seek help during times of emotional crisis.
Despite the bleak financial climate of the past year, you overwhelmingly supported the district with the passage of our bond and budget. We will continue to keep a keen fiscal watch over our budgetary practices as we expend these funds and prepare for the next budget cycle. Please continue to stay involved and informed by utilizing the communication devices available on our website and attending our board of education meetings, community forums and PTO meetings.
Lorna R. Lewis, Ed.D.
East Williston School District