• Michael Vallely
  • Michael J. Vallely, Ph.D.
    Superintendent of Schools
    Lancaster Central School District
    177 Central Avenue
    Lancaster, NY 14086
    District Clerk/Secretary:
    Sandra Janik
  • Dear Lancaster Parents, Family, and Friends... 

    The last seven months have certainly been filled with a seemingly endless series of ups and downs and highs and lows.

    The big picture view is that here in Lancaster Schools, we have had many more ups than downs. One high note thus far was the exceptional opening that our entire team put together. When I say entire team, I am referring to everyone in the Lancaster Central School District: teachers, parents, administration, students, bus drivers, food service workers, aides, secretaries, cleaners, everyone! I couldn’t be more proud of the people who make up this phenomenal community of learners, educators, and support staff! People will never truly understand what a team effort it was to overcome this monumental task. I do, and I wanted to say thank you, let’s keep going!

    More specifically, an impressive effort was undertaken in scheduling not only the largest high school in Western New York, but also the Middle School, William Street School, our four kindergarten through grade three schools, and our Universal Pre-K program. Almost 6,000 students were accommodated in hybrid schedules with ‘A Days’ and ‘B Days,’ something we have never done before. A fully remote option was added, yet another new undertaking.

    We made it across the finish line on our opening day despite all of these variables, and it was because of the hard work and effort of principals and counselors. I visited all of our schools opening week. At the K-3 elementary schools, Mrs. Marcinelli, Mrs. Clinard, Mrs. Moeller, and Mrs. Greene and all of the teachers and staff were outside greeting our youngest learners. It was heartwarming and inspiring; they were simply bursting with positivity and welcoming attitudes. At William Street School, Mrs. Bull, Mr. Heer, and Mrs. Conti were outside greeting youngsters off the buses with the entire fourth grade team of teachers holding signs with their names on them; great organization and great job! Lancaster Middle School and High School teams of administrators and teachers effectively welcomed more than 2,700 students, and it was fantastic to get a positive week under our belts.

    Buildings and Grounds did a tremendous job and had our buildings sparkling as always. But this year they faced heightened protocols like using hydroponic and electrostatic sprayers in classrooms, ordering massive amounts of PPE, implementing new cleaning protocols, installing thermal temperature scanners in every school, etc. I simply can’t say enough about their work.

    Our transportation department showed wonderful planning and preparation for socially distanced busing, complete with masks at bus stops, and students spread out safely to bring learners from their homes and neighborhoods to our schools. It was rewarding and uplifting to see bus drivers honking horns and waving at schools and teachers as they drove in. Spirit and attitude was high, and it was a testament to everyone in the transportation department.

    In short order our technology team, with help from administrators, teachers, and staff throughout the district, led the one-to-one Chromebook distribution, which normally would have been big news. Teachers participated in summer professional development on remote learning and on how to engage learners best in that environment. Moreover, they along with the curriculum department worked on curriculum committees and pacing guides, not to mention hiring committees for principals, assistant principals, teachers, and support staff.

    Thank you to a food service department that continued right where they left off this summer, when they did a yeoman’s job of providing over 190,000 healthy meals to our community’s children. Meals are still being provided to all of our children. Please consider taking advantage of this opportunity. Information and details can be found on our district webpage.

    It would be disingenuous of me to only speak about the highs of this coronavirus experience. There have been lows. We are not perfect, and we are not going to be able to be perfect in all aspects moving forward during the unchartered waters of a pandemic. Not every bus was on time. Not every Chromebook worked. Not every student could get every course they desired. Our daily health assessment, RUVNA, had a day-one hiccup as nationwide when hundreds of thousands of parents hit their servers all at once. Nevertheless, we are up and running and the good far outweighs the bad; together we will continue to do our best to improve along the way.

    Overall, it has been a tremendous lift and undertaking to get this big district moving again. I am very proud of where we are after our first month is behind us and we’re well into our second. At this time, many athletic and music programs are up and running, each of our schools has held a virtual open house, and we hope that parents had an opportunity to attend the sessions for their child or children to gain a greater sense of confidence in all of the efforts being undertaken on their behalf.

    Things are different, for sure, but we will stay true to our mission and continue to work to provide not only the excellence in education that this community has come to expect, but do our best to adapt our methods and techniques to fit students’ needs as well as maintain that Legendary Lancaster spirit!


    Michael J. Vallely, Ph.D.