Dear Lancaster Parents, Family, and Friends...
A recent Lancaster Educational and Alumni Foundation (LEAF) meeting at the district office was briefly interrupted by a work crew who was there to pull cable for a project that will provide wireless Internet access in all of our schools. I watched in amusement as two of our former superintendents, Ed Myszka, now LEAF president, and Joe Girardi, chair of one of LEAF's committees, reminisced about the last time the district had an upgrade to its phone system (more than 20 years ago). Apparently, workers accidentally disabled connectivity along Central Avenue and knocked out emergency communications systems. The two joked about using tin cans and string to communicate while the phone company called in reinforcements to resolve the foul-up.
As I watched the two, and glanced down the table where retired Athletic Director Len Jankiewicz sat with his successor, Brian Wild, I had a few thoughts. I thought about how remarkably unique Lancaster is. Where else would you find past and present collaborating to ensure the continued betterment of our schools? I thought about what rich resources we had in the room: a treasure trove of history and tradition coming together to support this school district and its students.
LEAF is pulsing with new blood and fresh ideas on how we can partner with businesses, alumni, parents, students, and community to think outside the box and find ways to generate new funds and resources to improve programs and facilities for our students. In its infancy, LEAF was tasked to 'dream big.' Some of those big dreams are taking shape as the foundation plans a $1 million capital campaign to provide opportunities to enhance athletic and music facilities that otherwise would not be feasible for the district.
During difficult financial times, our district has managed to offer exceptional educational programs and facilities, and maintain its Honor Roll status in Business First, in 2013 ranking ninth, the highest in district history. For several years, we have been noted as the region's most cost-effective and administratively efficient, based on figures from the State Education Department–most recently ranking most-efficient among 429 school districts in Upstate New York.
With these impressive numbers, it is getting ever more difficult to protect existing programs and provide innovative instruction. We've just begun the 2014-15 budget development process, and the board of education and I know that you are counting on us to deliver a budget that is not only responsible and reasonable, but also keeps our district moving forward.
We've come a long way from the 'tin cans and string' method of communication. Today, we keep you up-to-date with methods like Twitter, Facebook, and our website's mobile app. Shortly, wireless Internet connectivity will open exciting new possibilities for using technology in the classroom.While the district works to enhance 21st century learning in the most cost-effective way, it will take the innovative thinking of groups like LEAF and its partners to help us continue to make big dreams come true!
Michael J. Vallely
Superintendent of Schools