Message from the Superintendent as Published in e-Newsletters: September 16-Best Start of the School Year

Message from the Superintendent as Published in e-Newsletters: September 16 Edition: Best Start of the School Year

Dear West Genesee Families,

Headshot of David C. BillsWhen I was a principal in West Irondequoit CSD, a suburb of Rochester, NY, a colleague (another principal) observed my reaction to the start of the school year. After a number of years working together, she claimed, albeit “tongue in cheek”, that I always proclaimed the current September as “the best start to the school year ever”! I will plead guilty and acknowledge a bit of naiveté, but also the hope and optimism that is part of the annual experience.

That said (an expression sometimes used to discount previous exclamations), the opening of this school year had something I never experienced. Granted, it followed many months of something none of us have experienced and by no means is the health situation eradicated. However, there is an increase in excitement, enthusiasm, and positive energy that is mixed with a confidence and calm that seems present in these opening days. Many people with whom I have had conversations have expressed it as a “positive vibe”. In my last message I cited our outstanding staff as impacting our success. While that remains true, please accept my congratulations and continued appreciation to students and your part in this year’s successful start. With a nod to my former colleague, who I will reach out to and share, it was one of the “best starts ever” in my experience.

We continue to work through our transition to the Synergy Education Platform that includes ParentVue for ongoing information and communication relative to school and transportation. You will see information below for updates. Soon, our website will feature tutorial videos for various uses of ParentVue to maximize the level of communication and provide a convenient way to stay updated.

With our ongoing Capital Project, you may have seen the great progress that is visible in our upper high school stadium; specifically the replacement of the turf field. We expect parts of that progress, that which is most easily seen, to be completed very soon. It is here that I offer a note of caution. As reviewed at the August 31, 2022 Board of Education meeting by Lester Roberts, Project Manager, Watchdog Building Partners, who supports oversight of our capital projects, there is more to be done before it is ready for use. There needs to be preparation for and testing of the surface that impacts player safety and performance. Also, new fencing and concrete sidewalks will require further construction and continued closure of the facility. That portion of the process is estimated at six weeks. While we are all excited to move forward with the use of the field, we must have a priority to overall safety. In that regard, it is better to keep a realistic timeline for completion.

Enjoy the positive stories and information within this edition of the West Genesee District e-Newsletter. Please continue the strong partnership that is vital to this early momentum of the 2022-2023 school year. We are West Genesee Stronger Together.

Sincerely,
David C. Bills, Superintendent of Schools


Message from the Superintendent as Published in e-Newsletters: August 31 Edition: Start of the School Year

Dear West Genesee Families,

Consider the annual start of a school year. It comes with emotion, change, the expected and the unknown. In some ways it is like a birthday, holiday, or a special trip. In some ways it is an uncertain journey and a new beginning. From my own personal experience, it is all of that and more.

Please know two things. First, each adult in the life of a student shares the emotions that come with a Labor Day Weekend. Regardless of years of service, it always generates strong feelings. Second, working in a school district comes with a privilege and responsibility that is not taken lightly. The staff at West Genesee, whom I am honored to work with, understands the charge to be in service to the youth of our community. We are all invested in this experience of school.

The expansion of our School Resource Officer (SRO) program includes pending approval of both the Camillus Town Council and the WGCSD Board of Education. The result will add more than 85 years of experience in our schools. Anticipating a successful hiring process, each of our schools will welcome new and returning officers to our buildings that are committed to safety and building relationships in the partnership of school and community. Look for upcoming features introducing you to our newest School Patrol Officers (SPOs). Thank you to the Camillus Police Department for partnering in this effort.

A common adjustment in September is the charge of transporting large numbers of students to school in the morning and back home each afternoon with countless variables to consider. This year, routes have been created to maximize staff and minimize shortages that create delays or cancelations. Please be patient as routes and scheduled times adjust to actual riders versus those we believe to be riding prior to the year’s start. Thanks to our hard-working drivers, attendants, mechanics, dispatchers, and office staff in the WGCSD Transportation Department who work hard to deliver students to their destination safely, efficiently, and in a timely manner.

The District e-News will continue to provide updated information and well-deserved recognition. Welcome to the 2022-2023 school year. See you next week!

Sincerely,
David C. Bills, Superintendent of Schools

Important Reminder: 988 is now active across the United States. This new, shorter phone number will make it easier for people to remember and access mental health crisis services. See this link to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) from the US Department of Health and Human Services. Information from Onondaga County Mental Health Services can be found here.


Message from the Superintendent as Published in e-Newsletters: August 18 Edition: Getting Ready for the New School Year

Dear West Genesee Families,

We have approached the time when there is a higher level of activity at our schools. If you drive by any of the buildings you will see an increase in cars, as adults and students are involved in a plethora of events. Our new staff is starting to settle in (See the information below introducing our new teachers!), summer programs continue, and fall activities for students begin. It is never quiet, but these scenes are a wonderful sign of the approaching school year.

As part of that preparation, the first West Genesee School District Job Fair took place recently. Representatives from various departments were available for anyone interested in employment with our District. The location was Stonehedge Elementary School to provide easy access for participants. Over 70 individuals attended to pursue positions in buildings and grounds, custodial, maintenance, transportation, food services, clerical, and classroom support positions. It was a successful evening of opportunity and future support for WGCSD. Thank you to everyone who participated!

The District is currently working with the Camillus Police Department to expand our School Resource Officer Program. Interviews are underway toward filling additional positions for officers to be located in each of our school buildings. Along with great support from the Board of Education, this is part of the continued commitment to the safety of our students, staff, and families in the District. I look forward to providing updates on this initiative in a future communication.

Please continue to look to e-News for updated information and recognition. Please be sure to see important information on our new student management system, registration information, and continued employment opportunities.

Sincerely,

David C. Bills, Superintendent of Schools


Message from the Superintendent as Published in e-Newsletters: July 29 Edition: Summer Activities/Student Recognition

Dear West Genesee Families,

As the summer months continue, I hope you have had the opportunity to enjoy the many events and opportunities that our community has to offer at this time of year. Summer concerts, recreation programs, local parks and playgrounds, and outdoor dining are just a few of the highlights to look forward to at this time of year.

The District is also very busy during these months. Summer camps in the areas of Athletics, Fine Arts, and Science are a few of the many opportunities for students to participate in an area of interest and to enjoy interacting with their friends. We continue to work cooperatively and enjoy a strong relationship with the Town of Camillus Parks and Recreation Day Programs hosted in our school buildings.

Our staff has also been very active. The instructional staff are learning and planning for the upcoming school year. A number of workshops, team planning, and reshaping of programs are evidence of a culture of continuous improvement. Notable is our ongoing work with Professional Learning Communities (PLC) including year-two of work with Solution Tree consultants. Our building teams and District committees remain committed to processes that impact programs and student success.

Kudos to our custodial and grounds crew that work tirelessly to support summer programs. This group also takes on the annual task of caring for facility needs that are imperative to our success during the school year. If you have ever walked the hallways of a school in the summer, you would see the monumental task of moving furniture and equipment to assure a complete overhaul to maintain the high quality of our buildings.

On Monday, August 15, the District will host a Job Fair from 2:30-6:30 p.m. This will be held at Stonehedge Elementary School and it is an opportunity for those interested to explore joining the West Genesee CSD team in a variety of areas across the District. Further details will be coming soon and will be posted on our website. Please save the date and consider attending or sharing this information with others interested in job opportunities within our school community.

Please continue to look to our e-Newletters for updated information and recognition. In addition to well-deserved kudos below (check it out!), please be sure to see important information on our new student management system, summer food support, and registration information.

Sincerely,

David C. Bills, Superintendent of Schools

 


Message from the Superintendent as Published in e-Newsletters: June 30 Edition: Congratulations/Summer Activities

Dear West Genesee Families,

Congratulations to our newly graduated Class of 2022! Their success culminating a school career was captured and celebrated in a wonderful Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, June 18. This marked the return to the SRC Arena and Events Center on the campus of Onondaga Community College. Speakers’ remarks, music performers, video presentations, and the SRC professional setting supported the focus of each individual graduate receiving their diploma. It was a wonderful day!

Thank you to everyone present to celebrate and all those who supported this event. Best wishes to our newest alums as they move on to their next chapter. They will always be Wildcats and part of West Genesee Stronger Together!

As summer begins, please remember the many offerings within our community. The Town of Camillus Parks and Recreation programs, the resources of our local libraries, shopping centers, restaurants, and much more. The recent large gathering at Gillie Lake for music and fireworks was a perfect start to the warm weather months and an opportunity to participate in new or renewed traditions.

The West Genesee School District will remain active this summer with ongoing programs, professional development, and preparation for fall return. Notable are the overt signs of the Capital Project approved by voters in December. Click here for a continued reminder of the scope of the work as we anticipate great progress this summer.

Please continue to look to our e-Newsletters for updated information and important recognition. We will continue to do our best to provide communication that is pertinent and timely. Enjoy the updates and well-deserved kudos of this edition.

Sincerely,
David C. Bills, Superintendent of Schools


Message from the Superintendent as Published in e-Newsletters: June 10 Edition: e-Social Interactions

Dear West Genesee Families,

As social beings, we thrive on interactions, personal touch, and individual connections. We seek that in our communities and foster it in schools. The conclusion of a school year contains so many opportunities for reflection and insight of the culmination of growth.

Open houses, concerts, athletic tournaments, and other year-end events provide celebration of accomplishment and social interactions through shared experiences. Even in the last weeks, it has been a pleasure to be together at stadiums, concert halls, and regional venues to cheer our common goal of student success. Please enjoy those milestones during the end of the 2021-22 school year.

Of course, social interactions differ from social media. Too often with social media platforms there is a deficit and lack of the full experience of conversation, discussion, and discourse. Instead, there is a snapshot or incomplete thoughts that can include inaccurate or damaging information. I want to caution us on these formats for our kids and for ourselves.

As we continue to navigate an ever-changing world of technology, we need to remember to rely on informed trust and be suspicious of rumors or speculation. This can be particularly true when the content seems unusual or extraordinary. We need to continue to urge first-hand information and communication and discourage the unfortunate potential downside of social media.

While there may be a benefit of social media to cursory connections, symbols of celebration, and sharing of accomplishments; there are potential down sides. Let’s continue to learn and inform our youth of possible traps. If we are going to help our younger generation navigate it, we as adults need to do better and expect more.

Enjoy this edition of this E-news that celebrates recent successes of our students. Congratulations Wildcats!

Sincerely,

David C. Bills, Superintendent of Schools


Message from the Superintendent as Published in e-Newsletters: May 26 Edition-Recent Tragedy in Texas

Dear West Genesee Families,

Words cannot express the feelings that accompany the recent tragedy and senseless loss of life in Uvalde, Texas and Robb Elementary School. For us, it is jarring to hear of something so horrific that is far away geographically, but close to our hearts. I pray for their community and the pain they are feeling. I pray for our community every day.

These unfathomable circumstances weigh heavy on each of us. We are impacted as adults and that is certainly true for our children. We often ask ourselves if and how to discuss these matters, particularly with young people. The National Association of School Psychologists has a resource “Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers”. Please utilize this resource should it be helpful for conversations at home.

At school, we will continue to assure students of our priority to keep them safe and to sharpen our skills on safe practices. Our staff will continue to build and cultivate relationships that support our students. Mental health professionals in each of our buildings are prepared to support any specific needs of adults or students.

We should never desensitize to such violence and we have learned that, despite the circumstances, we will have more success working together to move forward. We remain West Genesee Stronger Together!

Sincerely,

David C. Bills, Superintendent of Schools


Message from the Superintendent as Published in e-Newsletters: May 13 Edition-Slowing Down to be Present

Dear West Genesee Families,

We are moving at a rapid pace with events and activities that accompany the close of a school year. Getting from one place to another and keeping up with schedules can be all-consuming. I was reminded this week in a conversation with two high school students of the importance to take pause with special moments and allow yourself to be present.

An athlete seeks to “have the game come to them”. A musician feels the changing pulse of a performance. A speaker attends to oratorical cadence. An artist entices, demands, and captures your attention. These are interesting models to navigate experiences.

Recently, I have found myself rushing from one place to another. Briskly walking into a school, quickly traveling down a hallway, and hurriedly visiting displays in a library. In each instance, a realization of the pace was striking. In each instance, it occurred to me to slow down.

What was the result of slowing down to be present? Being joined by a colleague also walking into the school and then sharing a laugh and discovering it was her birthday. A rerouting to the counseling office to chat with two students planning for and appreciating year-end events. An inspiring conversation about instruction and pedagogy at a “Collegial Café”. Three moments experienced, but almost missed.

Perhaps the lesson is learned. I encourage you, as I learned from the conversation with the pair of high school students, to appreciate what is around you and to be present in the moment. It is good to be driven, have a strong work ethic, and be committed to goals. Remind yourself to also enjoy moments along the way. The coming weeks and the end of this school year will offer many opportunities. Be sure to enjoy them!

This e-Newsletter is once again filled with information and stories of students’ successes. There are examples of the hard work that pays off with determination. Slow down and take the time to appreciate the success. Take the time to be West Genesee Stronger Together!

Sincerely,
David C. Bills,  Superintendent of Schools


Message from the Superintendent as Published in e-Newsletters: April 29 Edition-Community Health/UPK

Dear West Genesee Families,

“And we’re off!” One might typically place that expression at a starting point. I offer it as an indicator of the year-end pace and celebrations that are upcoming in the next two months. The spring season brings with it a plethora of awards and recognition points that align with the growth and success of a school year. We see and acknowledge the growth that has taken place since preparing for the 2021-22 school year. There is a realization that the day-to-day learning and hard work has resulted in changes that we may not have noticed along the way.

When people ask if a school year “winds down”, I often respond that it is more appropriately expressed as ramping up. How great is it that we all get to be a part of that?! Please look for the concerts, building traditions, awards ceremonies, athletic contests… and much more that are part of this great season! Let’s move forward strong and finish with Wildcat Pride!

Community Health

It has been very apparent that schools and communities have worked with health officials with great frequency in the past couple of years. We are so appreciative of those local officials that have guided us along the way.

Toward that end, I would like to support the Onondaga County Health Department with their Community Health Assessment and Improvement Plan which they conduct every three years. To help with this process, they have developed a Community Survey to hear directly from Onondaga County residents. Given the challenges of the past two years, they have expressed the importance to understand the perspective of our larger community as it relates to health and healthcare. The survey is available in English and Spanish and can be found here:

English: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/OCHDCHA2022

Spanish: https://es.surveymonkey.com/r/CHA2022Esp

Note: If you would like materials in any of the following languages: Arabic, Nepali, Somali, or Karenic, please contact Madeline Mackowski at madelinemackowski@ongov.net and she will provide those once they are finalized.

Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK)

We continue to be on pace to offer UPK to our resident families of eligible 4-year old children. To be eligible for the program, a child must be four years old on or before December 1, 2022, be a resident of West Genesee, and have all required immunizations. This is a five-hour program and children selected to participate must attend the program five days per week.

Recently, the Board of Education approved contracts to work in partnership with two community-based organizations. Learn As You Grow and Holy Family School will join West Genesee CSD in providing 114 “seats”. More information including a survey and specific locations and times is now available on our website’s dedicated page found on the Quick Links section of the front page and by clicking here.

This e-Newsletter is filled with important information and, more importantly, news of student successes. Continued congratulations to our students for their day-to-day and long term success and thank you to families for your support of our work together. West Genesee Stronger Together!

Sincerely,
David C. Bills, Superintendent of Schools


Message from the Superintendent as Published in e-Newsletters: April 18 Edition-Welcome Back!

Dear West Genesee Families,

Welcome back from the recent Spring Recess. It is my hope that you were able to enjoy the circumstances that come with a school break; family time, outdoor activity, or just a different pace. Every now and again, a chance to slow down can offer much needed rejuvenation and restoration. Look for those chances, even after the typical schedule resumes.

The last stretch of the school year promises to be filled with opportunities to showcase our student activities and accomplishments. Within and outside of our classrooms, there are many events planned that will highlight the hard work and growth that is part of learning. Please look for a chance to engage and celebrate within our buildings and across the District.

This e-Newsletter is filled with important information and, more importantly, news of student successes. Enjoy these celebrations and those in the upcoming months that remind us of our Wildcat Pride! West Genesee Stronger Together!

Sincerely,
David C. Bills, Superintendent of Schools


Message from the Superintendent in March 31, 2022 e-Newsletter-Includes COVID-19 Information

I hope you are well and safe as we navigate the ever-changing weather and continuation of health protocols. It seems the routine to leave the house each morning requires a full analysis of the climate to decide on a winter coat or a wind breaker… or perhaps both; knowing the predicted changes through the day!

As an update to conditions of the COVID-19 health situation, mask wearing has been optional for all students, staff, and visitors at West Genesee Central School District since Wednesday, March 2. We remain committed to supporting any individual’s choice to wear a mask or not wear a mask. As a reminder, NYS Department of Health issued guidance that supports other aspects of our approach as we move forward with optional mask wearing. Please be reminded of the following:

  • As required by the NYS Health Department, persons testing positive for COVID-19 must either isolate for 10 days or they may return to school after 5 days, providing they wear a well-fitting mask during days 6 through 10. Isolation Attestation forms are requested and can be found on the Onondaga County Health Department website.
  • Our health offices will continue to assess symptomatic individuals who will be sent home, should there be an indication of COVID-19. A negative PCR test or at-home test is sufficient for return. (iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test Kits are available from the individual schools.) When using the at-home test option, please send a picture of the test result to your child’s health office.

All other protocols remain the same as prior to the end of the NYS mask mandate. This includes contacting parents of individuals who may be at risk of exposure to positive cases.

Also, we will continue to use the following list of symptoms as those connected to the virus:

  • Fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit) or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Muscle aches or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

We have a responsibility to maintain the health and safety of our school and community. This includes efforts to minimize the spread of the infection. Individuals who are experiencing symptoms should stay home and test prior to returning to school, wash hands frequently, and wear a mask for at least 5 days after returning to school following a positive infection.

Please enjoy this e-Newsletter filled with celebrations and successes from our students. Go Wildcats!

Sincerely,
David C. Bills, Superintendent of Schools


Message from the Superintendent in March 18, 2022 e-Newsletter

Greetings!

Hard work, persistence, and perseverance. In recent weeks, there have been many reminders of the significance of these attributes. Concerts, athletic contests, visual arts displays, club activities, and learning within classrooms are just some examples of evidence this exists within our students and cultivated by our staff. In each of these settings, a work ethic, effort across time, and overcoming obstacles are part of the journey of success.

Consider the example of running a marathon. To approach the 26.2 mile event, an individual begins training months in advance. A regimented routine is established and various methods help to build strength and stamina with various muscles and rigor of increasing distances. The elements of weather, time, and fatigue may present barriers to overcome requiring a strategy adjustment. After many months, tapering seems counterintuitive, but it is necessary to pull back for recovery and rebuild strength. Only then does the training pay off between the starting line and finish.

It is that commitment that is behind each of our student’s performances. It doesn’t come “naturally” or “without effort.” Each success has many “miles”…. brush strokes, practices, rehearsals, individual repetition, technique refinement, research, review…. and commitment across time. That is hard work! The accomplishment is earned and respected.

This e-Newsletter includes some examples of the many successes our students have achieved due to their commitment. The investment made in a plethora of interest areas is deserving of our support, applause, and awe. Congratulations to our Wildcats for their accomplishments and to the many adults who remain dedicated to that success.

On a special note, the recent Culture Fair held at West Genesee High School showed a very different commitment. We celebrated the history of varied cultures through foods, movement, artistry, and visual symbols. Even more, we celebrated each other and recognized our collective differences and respected our unique past.

We are stronger together. We work hard and put in effort to accept that which makes us unique as individuals and strengthens us collectively. We also care for one another. It’s what makes us Wildcats!

Be well,

David C. Bills, Superintendent of Schools


Message from the Superintendent in February 28, 2022 e-Newsletter

Greetings!

The West Genesee District e-Newsletter is one of my favorite publications. The main focus is a snapshot highlighting our students’ accomplishments with important information and noteworthy dates. As with this edition, the celebration of academics, fine arts, athletics, and culture serve as important reminders of our growth and collaborative commitment to excellence. Be sure to take time to enjoy each article.

I will be connecting through this format in future editions. Sometimes, and certainly across the past many months, there have been formal communications of policy, mandates, and updates of legal parameters. My hope with a regular article in the e-Newsletter, will be to stay in touch just a bit more in order to share thoughts and good news.

In returning to Central New York, I am reminded of my earliest driving memories which include regular travel on Route 81 in the Syracuse area; the traffic circle exit in Mattydale, an unfortunately timed rush hour stall of a ’72 Pinto near the Harrison and Adams exit, and my buddy Ken who taught me the courtesy of changing lanes for entering traffic.

Recently, a routine location drew my attention; the onramp from Hiawatha Boulevard to Route 81 North. You may know this often congested area with two lanes of left-turn-only that merge to one across a relatively short distance. I am always impressed with a random selection of complete strangers, who share direction and timing, that manage to cooperate and quickly transition to highway travel.

No big deal? Consider there are no specific directions, additional traffic control, or specially detailed communication. There is a common cooperation that entails some patience and perhaps a bit of grace. Those involved share the goal of a safe trip and are dependent on one another to do so in the smoothest way possible.

It occurs to me that this is similar to our experiences together as a community; common goals, communication in various forms, a mutual trust, an effort for patience, and just a bit of grace. Let’s not take for granted our seemingly simple “onramp”, but take the time to appreciate our hard work together for our Youth, Families, and West Genesee Community…. Stronger Together!

Be well,
David C. Bills, Superintendent of Schools

Special Note: I am saddened and outraged by the Russian invasion and actions of war in Ukraine. Thoughts and prayers go to all family members connected to that region of the world and those serving the United States Armed Forces and in protection of surrounding countries. West Genesee stands ready to support our students and our employees who are impacted by the conflict. Please click here to read my full statement that was sent out yesterday.