Superintendent's Update: May 22, 2020
Hello Maine-Endwell School Community! It seems each day / week brings new information along with challenges and obstacles. I hope the following information provides some answers to your questions.
LAST DAY OF INSTRUCTION:
We have determined that the last day of instruction for students will be Friday, June 12th. Building principals have been communicating plans for locker clean out and school materials (Chromebooks, textbooks, instruments, uniforms, etc.) return and specific times and dates have been established.
SUMMER SCHOOL / SCHOOL REOPENING:
In his daily briefing on Thursday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said that in-person summer school will not be authorized this year. It could still be provided through distance learning. He said that meal programs and child care for essential workers will continue. The Governor said that it’s too early to make decisions about opening in the fall, but the state will issue guidelines in June and ask districts to submit reopening plans for approval in July. Maine-Endwell has established July 15th as our date to have reopening plans ready for review. We are awaiting the additional guidance which will drive our decision-making.
SCHOOL BUDGETS: From Washington and Albany
We have no solid news to share on the financial outlook for state aid for schools. Early on, there was reason to expect that reductions in School Aid from the enacted state budget could be announced soon after April 30, the end of the first of three “measurement periods” for determining the need for cuts. Budget Director Robert Mujica said districts should know state aid by May 15. Asked Friday a week ago about the “drop dead date” for announcing cuts, Mr. Mujica responded, “sometime in May.”
Release of the State Comptroller’s monthly cash report for April was cited as a necessary data point for state budget decisions. That came last Friday, May 15. It was grim, finding that total tax receipts for April were down 68% from the same month a year ago. Much of the drop is due to the three-month extension in the income tax filing deadline, so some of that revenue will yet materialize. But sales tax collections were down by 24%, indicating a true decline in economic activity. It has seemed that the Administration is holding off on unveiling plans for drastic cuts in the hope that Washington will come forward with an infusion of federal support.
In his daily briefing on Thursday, Governor Cuomo said, “We have to see what Washington does, otherwise you know the equation: if we don’t get federal funding, we will have to cut those areas [i.e., schools, hospitals, local governments] about 20%.” Once again, if the state determines it is necessary to cut School Aid by 20%, or 10% or 30% or 2%, that does not mean that every district would be cut by that same percentage.
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “HEROES Act,” a package of economic stimulus items totaling $3 trillion, including $500 million for fiscal relief to state governments and $58 billion specifically for local education agencies. A bipartisan bill to provide $500 billion in fiscal relief to states has been introduced in the Senate. It does not provide direct support for schools. As we have noted, 46 states begin their fiscal years on July 1 and that probably sets the real timeline for federal action.
Maine-Endwell has adopted our budget for the 2020-2021 school year with our tax levy being 1.94%. Absentee ballots are being mailed out today (5/22/2020) and are due back on June 9th by 5:00PM. A defeated budget will force the District to reduce expenditures by another $500,000. Our budget hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, May 26th at 6PM via Zoom. Details on how to access the meeting and protocols for asking questions will be provided on our website.
Hunger Solutions New York has developed a new outreach toolkit to provide resources to help families apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It was developed in partnership with our organization, the Association of School Business Officials of New York, the New York School Nutrition Association, the New York State PTA, No Kid Hungry New York, and the School Administrators Association of New York State.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten the health, well-being, and food security of low-income families. While schools are working hard to provide meals to children, many families are still struggling. As trusted messengers, schools can leverage existing communications channels to communicate the availability of resources to families.
The outreach toolkit can help schools to encourage families to apply for SNAP benefits while informing families about the availability of school meals, plans for meal distribution in the summer, and providing updates on applying for free and reduced-price (F/RP) school meals in the 2020-2021 school year.
Access the toolkit here.
Maine-Endwell will be providing meals through June 26th at the current locations. Effective June 30th through August 28th, meals will be provided for students 18 years of age and under. Specific locations and times will be provided shortly. We encourage any family with students 18 years or younger to take advantage of these meals if necessary or desired.
Along with breakfasts and lunches provided, we are excited to be able to provide additional items including:
• Fruit/ Vegetable Box-5# Potatoes, 4# Oranges, 3# Onions, 4# Carrots, 3# Apples, 1# Head Lettuce
• Precooked Meat Box-4# Chicken Meatballs, 6# Sliced Ham, 5# Chicken Nuggets, 5# Chicken Patties
• Dairy Product Box-5# Yogurt, 5# Cottage Cheese, 2# String Cheese, 4# Milk (.5 gal), 1.5# Sour Cream, 5# American Cheese
NOTE: Availability will be limited.
Enjoy the warm weather and Memorial Day events in our area. Thank you for your continued patience and understanding as we navigate the uncertain waters. Thankfully, a caring and thoughtful community awaits your children upon their return in September. We will get through this together.
Jason Van Fossen