Tag Archives: School budget

Are you registered to vote?

One of the privileges and duties we have as citizens of the United States of America is to vote.  As parents we can set an example of citizenship for our children by exercising this privilege and duty when we vote in both national and local elections.  The duty portion comes into play when we take the time and effort to become informed regarding the candidates and issues on the ballot so we can cast informed votes.  Some parents take their children with them to the polling places so children become familiar/comfortable with the voting process.

District Wide Parents’ Council (DWPC) believes that parent’s voices are so important within the school community that there should be at LEAST one person voting on behalf of every child within the school district and to that end DWPC’s ongoing One Child, One Vote committee strives to encourage voter participation through ongoing voter registration efforts as well as  get-out-the-vote efforts at election and/or budget vote times.  If you would like to become involved in DWPC’s One Child, One Vote effort, you will find committee contact information on the DWPC website.

Are you registered to vote?  If not, it is very easy to get registered.  You may register online

New York State Board of Elections Register to Vote

or you may pick up a voter registration form at the Board of Elections on Wall Street in Kingston.

In order to vote in the Kingston School Board of Education Election/School Budget Vote on May 20, 2014 you will need to be registered by May 6, 2014.  Voting locations for the Election/Budget Vote are listed here and an absentee ballot may be obtained here.

 

Parent Highlights for April 2, 2014 Kingston Board of Education meeting

The agenda appears to be relatively short for tonight’s Board of Education meeting (April 2, 2014) at Crown Street.  Public comment generally begins at 7pm.

The district has posted the agenda for the meeting here.

The topics I find to be of note for parents are in the superintendent’s report and include a 2nd century update (the KHS capital project) and an update on the 2014-2015 budget.

I am hopeful that Dr. Padalino will give some information on the stakeholder meetings that the architects are conducting with various groups regarding the 2nd century project.  I am also wondering when parents will have opportunity to give input on the project and what is the proper way for parents to ask questions/give input?  Will there be a stakeholder meeting for parents?  There are parent representatives on the KHS BLT (Building Leadership Team) that received a report in February but only a small number of the comments/concerns from the BLT team were presented to the architects in February and the KHS BLT has not heard when to expect future reports from the architects (as of the March 27, 2014 KHS BLT meeting).

I believe the board will need to vote on the 2014-2015 budget at the next board meeting so I expect them to be discussing a draft budget at the meeting tonight.  Parents need to be watching for how the $2.9 million budget shortfall presented at the first budget forum (and possibly larger if less money than hoped for is received from the state) will be addressed.  The final budget forum that the district will be holding is next Monday April 7, 2014 at 6pm.

 

 

Music in Our Schools

With school budget season upon us, I would like to pause for a moment and reflect upon music and arts in our schools.  Many would say that when times get tough, this is an area where money should be cut but I beg to differ.

I had the privilege of listening to children grades 5-12 from throughout Ulster County sing at the All-County Choral Festival on March 1, 2014.  All three groups of singers (elementary, junior high school and senior high school) sang with enthusiasm and did an amazing job after their full day of rehearsal.  The music was varied in style and very enjoyable to listen to.  The elementary and junior high school choruses had songs in foreign languages as well as with clapping and/or other choreography to add to the excitement of the song.  It was obvious that the teachers and students had all worked hard to prepare for this concert.

In this atmosphere of enjoyment contrasted with the yearly rounds of budget cuts, I read the President’s message with a somewhat heavy heart and have received permission to share it for your contemplation.

We would like to thank you for joining us in our celebration of music in the Ulster County schools.  Parents, students and teachers have worked hard to produce the beautiful concert you will hear today.  And even as we take pride in today’s performance it is equally important that we consider the environment in which it has been created.

We are continually called upon to defend and justify the importance of music.  We are asked to provide scientific data to prove that music changes lives, shapes neuro-pathways, creates social bonds, sensitizes the emotions, and develops compassion for our fellow human beings.  Students and teachers of music have always known this.  The president of Cornell University David J. Skorton stated on June 26th, “It is through the study of art, music, literature, history and other humanities and social sciences that we gain a greater understanding of the human condition than biological or physical science alone can provide.”

The current path of education leads us away from what matters most.  As Diane Ravitch has pointed out, the concept behind a ‘race to the top’ is fundamentally flawed.  There is no race where everyone wins.  The democratic ideal is educational equality, not winners and losers.  When the value of education is reduced to a formula then the essence of education is lost.

The health of music education reflects the state of education as a whole.  How long can the canary sing in this environment?  You are about to hear a wonderful concert.  You will be inspired, moved and uplifted in spite of over-testing, cuts, and reductions of music departments county-wide.  The canary is still singing, but for how long?

We don’t have to claim that participation in the arts raises test scores.  That’s not the point.  The arts are far more valuable.  They awaken our soul and spirit and they don’t need any more justification than that.

- Dr. Barbara Wild & Mr. Randolph Loder, Co-Presidents, UCMEA

Perhaps you attended the All-County Band Festival last weekend or will be joining me in attending the All-County Orchestra Festival this weekend.  Perhaps you enjoy other musical venues put on specifically by Kingston school district students.  Maybe your focus is visual arts rather than music or maybe sports or some other aspect of the many wonderful experiences that Kingston offers to our students beyond just “reading, writing and arithmetic”.  Please be involved in the budget process and urge the Kingston Board of Education to continue their focus from past years and retain our wonderful music and arts and other programs that make KCSD such a rich experience for our students.  Also remind our board of education that as we continue to deal with the Common Core Agenda not everything can be measured by STEM and high-stakes testing.

Additional opportunities for you to get involved include an online budget survey that the district will be posting on March 24, 2014 and the third budget forum on April 7, 2014 6pm at the Cioni administration building.

Parent Highlights for March 19, 2014 Kingston Board of Education meeting

Lots of interest for parents on the agenda for the Kingston Board of Education meeting this Wednesday March 19, 2014.  The meeting will be held at John F. Kennedy Elementary School.

5:00pm – 6:00pm Public Hearing on the Veterans Tax Exemption

6:00pm Video welcome by John F. Kennedy Principal Dr. Perez who will be out of town.  After the video, the BOE will go into executive session.

7:00pm Expected return to public session and Public Comment

Topics of Note:

  • Dr. Chuck Khoury, Ulster BOCES, speaking about PTECH – Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools Program; here is an article from January about the PTECH program
  • JFK Playground donation
  • 2014-2015 budget update including announcement of a public hearing on the budget on May 7, 2014 at 5:30pm (note that the budget will have already been voted on by the BOE so it is too late to have any impact on the content of the budget at this time), voting locations (listed on the district website), due date of petitions for those who wish to run for the Board of Education – 5pm April 30, 2014, and information about registering to vote in the May 20 election/budget vote and absentee ballots
  • Two recalled teachers Lori Demercurio and Anthony Fabiano (teachers who had lost their jobs and now are getting their jobs back) – resolution P84
  • Amendments and authorizations to change who acts on behalf of the board/district for duties previously performed by Sandy Miller, Assistant Superintendent for Student Services, and Marystephanie Corsones, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction.  John Voerg, Assistant Supterintendent for Personnel & Administration, will be responsible for Special Education related areas/contracts previously covered by Sandy Miller (resolutions R01 and R08 revised).  Beth Bonville will take MaryStephanie Corsones’ place as the Title IX Coordinator, Title VII Coordinator and Title VI Civil Rights Act Investigator (resolution R01 revised).  Allen Olsen, Assistant Superintendent for Business & Operations, will be the responsible party for signing contracts for health services for students in non-public schools through the end of this school year (resolution R09 revised).  Sandy Miller was previously responsible for this authorization.
  • Proposed calendar for 2014-2015 school year:  1st day of school for students is Sept 3, 2014; Thanksgiving recess Nov 26-28; Winter recess Dec 24, 2014-Jan 2, 2015; President’s Weekend Feb 13-16, 2015; Spring recess March 30-April 6, 2015; last day of school June 25, 2015; assorted other individual days off/supt conference days available in the agenda for viewing
  • BOE vote on School Volunteers Policy #1250 – the only change from the version of the policy presented at the 2/19/14 and 3/5/14 BOE meetings is a statement that fingerprinting will be paid for by the district.  It appears that the BOE policy committee is not recommending any other changes in response to feedback received from the community regarding the School Volunteers policy.  See here for past discussion.

Kingston school announces ‘restructured administration’?

What is going on in Kingston? Does anyone honestly think there wasn’t enough work to be done in Curriculum and Instruction and in Special Education (I can’t remember what else right now Sandy Miller is responsible for) that we can lose these two administrative positions? Kingston is already one of the leanest districts in the state administratively. Who is going to take over this work? I am afraid even more will fall to the teachers in the trenches – when will they have time to teach our students?

http://www.dailyfreeman.com/general-news/20140224/kingston-school-district-announces-restructured-administration-two-assistant-superintendents-appear-to-be-impacted

By the way, don’t forget there is a Budget Forum tonight at Crown Street from 6-7:30pm!