Office of the Superintendent
On behalf of the Board of Education, the faculty and staff and the students of the Newfane Central School District, I want to extend our thanks and appreciation to all the members of the Newfane community who turned out this past May to vote on the District budget. We are very cognizant of the fact that asking the public to support a 3% tax increase is a lot to ask for in these trying economic times. We are also very aware that passing the budget with such a slim majority is a sign that we need to do a much better job educating the public about our budget and expenditures and ensuring that everyone knows about the wonderful things that your taxes are supporting in the District.
We are currently hard at work getting ready for the 2018-2019 school year. But before I share some of the exciting things we will be implementing next year, I want to talk a little bit about the challenges we faced this past year.
We obviously faced many “managerial” challenges this past academic year. While our mission is to educate the youth of the Newfane Community, we know we can’t be truly effective if our students don’t feel safe and secure, loved and accepted, here in our buildings. The impact of the horrific tragedies that occurred this past year at schools in Parkland, Florida and Austin, Texas were felt strongly right here in Newfane. While our students banded together and participated in peaceful, respectful civil actions calling for an end to gun violence, school safety and security once again became a major focus for those of us charged with keeping our children safe. Parents and staff members very appropriately questioned our ability to provide a safe environment for our students. And we discovered an unfortunate reality- we had become lackadaisical in implementing the very routines and procedures that we had developed to keep our campuses safe. Building Planning Teams and the District Safety Committee immediately engaged in a complete review of our procedures and protocols. Each building underwent a series of drills simulating different scenarios to try to impress upon our students and staff the importance of and proper response to different scenarios. We have also worked hard to ensure the external security of our buildings. Our clerical staff, who are responsible for the remote unlocking of entryways to the buildings, have done an excellent job embracing and enforcing our protocols. If you are visiting one of our building this school year, expect to have to identify yourself and your reason for entering the school before being admitted. Other measures continue to be considered and may be implemented as we get into the new school year.
We did have several concerning incidents late in the school year with students saying things or communicating messages that were disturbing or appeared to be threatening. While it is unfortunate that children make poor choices with how and what they communicate to each other, the good news in all these incidents is that the procedures and protocols that we had worked so hard to reinforce and make second nature to our staff worked exactly as they were supposed to. Yes, it is scary for parents to hear about threats being made in the school environment; but parents should also be reassured to know that the staff in the buildings reacted quickly, decisively and cooperatively with law enforcement to address the issues and ensure the ongoing safety of our students. I am sad that we have troubled youths who make poor choices; but I am happy that our system has worked successfully to identify them, reach out to them and their families, and intercede with appropriate consequences before tragedy occurs.
Going hand in hand with our efforts to provide a safe and secure environment for our students, we have several exciting projects going on this summer that should help set the stage for greater student safety and achievement in the new school year. Finally, we are having wifi accessibility installed in all of our buildings this summer. Thanks to the foresight of District officials who shepherded previous technology projects, we have the necessary wiring already in place so the bulk of the project will involve installing wireless access points throughout the buildings. Having wifi in place is the first step in our technology plan that will eventually lead to an instructional environment that will use technology as an instructional tool much like we used to use textbooks and encyclopedias. We need to prepare our students for a technology rich society- whether they are going to college, entering the workforce or serving in the military. We will finally be able to provide an environment in the schools that will mimic what our students will deal with in society.
Tied to the wifi project is the purchase of multiple class sets of Chromebooks to start introducing 1:1 technology in the classrooms. 1:1 computing gives all students equal access to the resources necessary for deep, meaningful learning. This summer, our project-based Middle School Summer program will pilot the use of the Chromebooks along with an integrated student learning management system that will allow our students to demonstrate their learning in a paper-free environment. Our goal for the fall is to have a limited number of classrooms functioning essentially paper free as we begin our move towards a truly technology-integrated educational environment.
Another technology related project this summer involves replacing the telephone systems throughout the District. Many times this past year our antiquated phone system suffered building wide outages and dropped calls. The new system, which employs VOIP (voice over internet protocol) technology will run our phones through the much more secure internet computer lines. This new system also has much greater flexibility and features that will allow much quicker response and more complete communication during critical times.
The last major project I want to share information about, and that will hopefully be nearing completion by the time this is published, is the concrete work and parking lot reconstruction project. Anyone who has visited the high school or the middle school this past year couldn’t help but feel the deplorable condition of the entry roads to both of those buildings. By the start of the new school year, both of those entrances and many of the sidewalks around the elementary school will have been totally replaced. This work represents the final phase of the $3.1 million capital project approved back in 2015.
This past year, we implemented a structure of standing committees throughout the District to help facilitate the involvement of all our constituents in the decision making process in the District. You can find a chart outlining this structure on our website (http://www.newfane.wnyric.org) on the superintendent’s page. As we continue the important work of these committees, we encourage and welcome the involvement of community members on these committees. If you are interested in serving as a member of one of our committees, please send me an email message at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will forward your name to the committee chairperson.
Also, throughout the school year, we schedule a variety of presentations at Board of Education meetings on different aspects of the operations of the District. These range from reports on new instructional initiatives, building updates, school lunch reports and the recognition of outstanding student accomplishments, to name just a few. The schedule for these presentations and for all the Board meetings can also be found on our website under the Board of Education tab. I encourage you to attend our Board of Education meetings to stay informed on the events and happenings in the District.
Again, I want to thank the Newfane Community for their ongoing support of our school system. We are doing everything we can to continue to provide a high quality educational experience for our students that will prepare them for whatever path lies ahead of them while maintaining a realistic, responsible budget the community can support. We welcome and encourage your input and feedback.
I hope you are having an enjoyable summer and you are looking forward to the new school year with as much excitement and anticipation as I am.
Together We Can!
Michael J. Baumann
Superintendent of Schools
Mailing Address: 6273 Charlotteville Road, Newfane, NY 14108Physical Location: 6048 Godfrey Road, Burt, NY 14028
Mr. Michael Baumann
Mrs. Shannon EmborskySuperintendent of Schools
Secretary to the Superintendent
Email: email@example.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgDistrict Office Phone: 716.778.6850District Office Fax: 716.778.6852