The end of the calendar year is always busy with holiday events in our schools, but this time of year is also notable for a different kind of holiday celebration that happens for some of our students.

Rye Neck’s seniors are now beginning to hear back from their early admission college applications, and I am pleased to report that the acceptances have been overwhelming. A combination of a rigorous academic preparation, hard work on the part of students and staff, and continued support from parents has enabled our seniors to achieve many of their goals. Congratulations to the many who have been accepted to the college or university of their choice!

The conventional sounds of the holidays have been heard in our schools as our students perform throughout the season.  In addition, our students and staff continue to help those less fortunate by generously donating time and resources.

The new district website has become the new community bulletin board, with constant updates and timely information. More and more of our parents have signed on each month as they realize the value of this new resource, and regular visitors to the site will notice consistent school updates, along with the occasional emergency notices. These changes have enabled us to more readily connect with our students, parents and community. I’m also pleased to note that parents and students are using our online portals in greater numbers, enabling them to become active participants in the learning process. As we all become more familiar and comfortable with the technology and increase our usage, we are decreasing our paper, copying and mailing costs. Together we are meeting our goal of becoming a more environmentally friendly district, modeling what we expect from our students.

As a school district we are in the business of education. While this may sound silly to state, but with school conversations dominated by finances, I fear that this core idea seems to get lost. Ensuring that we stay focused on this ‘business’ is critically important goal of our Board of Education, staff, and students. To that end, the Board of Education will host four curriculum presentations this year:  State Education Department Update, Libraries, Enrichment and LOTE (Languages Other Than English). Each of these presentations provides vital information about the important work we are doing, and keeps us focused on the essential mission.

I have made mention in the past about the new regulations regarding staff evaluations under the acronym known as APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review). Rye Neck as had an extensive and useful staff evaluation system in place for years – one that continues to enable us to evaluate and consistently improve the professional contributions of our staff. We have submitted our district plan to comply with the latest state mandate under APPR. A copy is posted on our website.

Financing our programs continues to be a grave concern in the era of the tax cap, one that the Board of Education and I take very seriously.   Rye Neck has for the last 20 years been fiscally conservative, limiting our annual expenditures and long term indebtedness, while improving our programs and facilities. Our philosophy continues to be to take care of needs as they arise and not to  borrow against our future.  As a result, our district is in excellent financial shape and I am confident that we can weather this latest challenge from Albany.
The newly imposed tax cap legislation imposes a new set of regulations on municipalities and schools and limits local community control.  This legislation is confusing, and does require some careful explanation and review, which we will be doing over the next few months in anticipation of the May school budget vote.

Thanks as always for your continued support, and happy holidays!