(The follow letter to the editor is from Bedford Central's school board)
Beginning a new school year in the midst of a national election reminds us that administering our public schools is one of the truest examples of local governance in action. Under the leadership of Superintendent Dr. Jere Hochman and his team, our district has set a higher standard for every student’s achievement and success, building a dialogue with the public, and responding to the needs of our local community.
After three years of keeping tax levy increases under 2%, Bedford Central continues to face head-on the realities of the NYS mandated “tax levy cap”—while remaining laser focused on the needs of our students and tenaciously preserving the educational excellence of our seven BCSD schools.
What’s ahead for the 2012-2013 school year?
One of the foremost challenges of this school year lies in the implementation of the new, state-required teacher and principal annual professional performance review (APPR) process. We are proud of our district leaders and the teachers’ union who worked collaboratively and tirelessly to craft an innovative evaluation tool with the potential to be a model statewide.
Resuming this fall, the district will be surveying the public by phone, online and in person, asking you to share your thoughts and help shape our planning for Bedford Central’s future. Involvement from all sectors of the public is key to our decision-making as we contemplate the “right” level of capital investment necessary to preserve strong district facilities, including infrastructure and innovation at West Patent Elementary School, science labs at the Fox Lane Middle School and improvements at other buildings district-wide.
Additionally, we will begin collaborative contract discussions with the Bedford Teachers Association. Following several union concessions made in the last contract that reduced the trajectory of district expenditures significantly, our aim is an innovative agreement that balances the interests of our faculty with the interests of our community to provide the best conditions for our students’ education.
Also ahead, we are implementing policies regarding homework and anti-bullying, as well as reviewing the district stance on issues including student testing, assessments and class size. We remain engaged in important regional and state educational and legislative advocacy that seeks mandate relief and reaffirmation of local control of public school districts.
There’s a saying that a community is like a ship; everyone should be prepared to take the helm. This adage reflects our goal to involve community members in the direction of our district. By investing yourself in our schools, you make our community stronger. Involvement and input from the public helps us direct our priorities and maintain the high-quality academic and extra-curricular experiences that are the hallmark of a Bedford Central education.
Please consider lending your expertise to any one of the citizen advisory committees that guide the district on budget, communications, legislative action, sustainability and capital projects. And we hope you’ll join us when we invite you to participate in a district survey or discovery session in October or November. Easiest of all, attend a student sporting event, performance or exhibit so you can see our facilities and feel the spirit in our schools.
Welcome back to the new school year.
For more information on citizen advisory opportunities, visit bcsdny.org and look for “Advisory Committees” under our Quick Links. Or contact Carole LaColla, Assistant to the Superintendent and District Clerk, at 241-6011.
Susan Elion Wollin, President
Dr. Eric Karle, Vice President