Dear Lancaster Parents, Family, and Friends...
Thank you to this community’s ardent supporters who rallied
for ending the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) and raising awareness that
schools like ours are in dire need of funding reforms. On a cold March day, parents, faculty,
administrators, concerned taxpayers, and I joined with our ‘rivals’ in Depew to
send a clear message to Albany that our schools have been stretched to the
limit and adequate, equitable funding needs to be restored.
The legislature passed its budget on time and the state has
awarded us an increase of $3.6 million in aid; but, as often is the case with
Albany, there are strings attached. In order to receive the aid, the state is
requiring school districts to renegotiate annual professional performance
reviews (APPRs) and have a plan approved by the state by November 15, 2015. With $3.6 million in aid hanging in the
balance, the school district has crafted a budget that is below the tax cap and
has a modest tax levy increase (1.83%).
During the last several years of lost revenue, we have been
fortunate to maintain a nationally-acclaimed music program, athletics, and
extracurricular activities, largely due to the ongoing support of this great
community. We have reasonable class sizes, and we are unique in Western New York
with six college and career preparatory academies. Our positive outcomes
continue to soar, most recently achieving the highest graduation rate in
Western New York, 98 percent in 2014, the same year we recorded our
highest-ever Business First ranking
at #6 out of 98 school districts.
When politicians say our public schools are failing and your
taxpayer dollars are being wasted, Lancaster’s story represents irrefutable
evidence to the contrary. We’ve invested your hard-earned tax dollars in
creating programs that work for EVERY student. Our K-12 mastery numbers are
among the highest in the region, and Lancaster High School has been named a New
York State Reward School for Academic Achievement.
On May 19, voters will be asked to consider three propositions.
Proposition 1 is a $99.9 million budget, reflecting a 1.83 percent tax levy
increase. Proposition 2 is a $57.3 million capital improvement project with no
additional tax impact, and Proposition 3 calls for approval to draw from our
transportation reserve fund to purchase eight buses, also with no tax impact.
Voters will also be tasked with electing two board members who will help
steward our district’s future.
Soon you will be receiving mailings regarding the vote.
We’ve posted resources on our website, including video, which can be viewed at www.lancasterschools.org/2015_capital_project.
I encourage you to peruse these materials so that you can cast an informed vote;
but more importantly, please join us for the candidates’ forum, at 6pm,
Lancaster High School auditorium on May 11, followed immediately by the annual
Michael J. Vallely, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools