2641 State Highway 7
P.O. Box 483
Otego, NY 13825
As I write
this article, the forecast is for a warm humid day in mid-July. But by the time you receive this newsletter,
the first days of school will be right around the corner!
custodians and maintenance staff have been hard at work all summer getting our
buildings and grounds ready for September, teachers have been working on lesson
plans and participating in professional development, and our administrators
have been diligently working to ensure they are ready for students in the fall.
year has been one of both success and change.
Our graduating seniors did their school proud, winning many scholarships
and awards, and they will be missed. Our
athletic teams were very successful as well.
In June, we had three long-time staff members retire, including Vicki
Beames, Otego Special Education teacher, Maureen Pawlikowski, Unadilla 5th
grade teacher, and Marilyn Klie, Otego Elementary Principal. We thank them for their many years of devoted
service to Unatego. Several other
employees have left us for positions in other districts or to stay home with
young children. Due to declining
enrollments and financial concerns, many of these positions will remain vacant,
while we are working this summer to fill others. Pat Scott, most recently the interim Director
of Special Education, has agreed to serve as Interim Principal at Otego
Elementary. Her knowledge of the
district and elementary education will be invaluable to our students and staff.
Although we have
put together two years of responsible and fiscally sound budgets, financially
our position remains precarious. Years
of state aid cuts and a state-imposed tax cap have created substantial fiscal
stress for the district. This financial
difficulty, combined with a steadily declining student population, led the
Board of Education to bring in educational consultants to conduct a Facilities
Study this past year. The purpose of the
study was to examine a variety of variables to determine if there was a better
way, both educationally and fiscally, to educate our students.
consultants had multiple meetings with a stakeholder committee, comprised of
community members, parents, faculty, staff, and administrators and, in the end,
recommended the district develop a plan to close one of our aging elementary
schools (Otego Elementary) within a year and move all K-5 students to
Unadilla. They also recommended that,
within the next several years, the district consider building an addition at
the Junior-Senior High School, closing Unadilla Elementary after completion of
the addition, and bringing all students to the main campus in a K-12 building.
decision to close a school building is heart wrenching and difficult, in order
to maintain fiscal stability the district must closely study all available
options. The Board of Education, while
ultimately responsible for that decision, is seeking input from district
stakeholders and to that end, we are including a short survey soliciting your
opinion as to which options the Board should consider. In order to provide you with as much
information as possible, we have included an executive summary of the study
with this newsletter. Moreover, the full
study is available on-line at the Unatego website, www.Unategocsd.org under Facilities Study. We ask
that you return the completed survey as soon as possible, as the Board of
Education plans on making a decision by mid-November, 2016. If you prefer to complete the survey on line,
it may also be accessed at the district website above. Please take the time to share your thoughts
with us, either through the survey, or by attending board meetings or one of
two public hearings which will be scheduled for September and October.
financial worries, we remain firmly committed to providing our students with an
excellent education. We are instituting a Positive Behavioral Interventions and
Support (PBIS) program this year at Unadilla Elementary and the Middle School
to help students be more successful. We were able to restore field trips for
our students in all buildings, enhancing their learning experience. By offering college courses to our high
school students at no cost, including the second year of an Associate’s Degree
program in Business Administration, our
78 graduating seniors were each able to accumulate between 3 and 25 college
credits, saving their families over $208,000 in future tuition costs. In all that we do, we try to prepare our
students for college and careers.
Although we have work left to do, our state test scores continue to
improve, and our Middle School, which was cited as a Local Assistance Plan
school last year, has been reinstated to School in Good Standing status after
much hard work on the part of their faculty, administration, and staff.
To end, I
would like to thank all of you for your support over the past year. An overwhelming number of you voted in favor
of the district budget and for that, we are grateful. Please continue to support our schools
because, as the saying goes, the children are our future. If possible, let us
know what you think about the Facilities Study recommendations by completing a
survey by mail or online. And finally, enjoy
the last weeks of summer as all too soon it will end. As always, if you have questions or concerns,
feel free to contact us. A list of
contacts is included in this newsletter for your convenience and is also
available on our web page. As the old
song goes, See you in September!
2641 State Highway 7 | P.O. Box 483 | Otego, NY 13825 | P: 607-988-5000