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Update from Clarence CSD March 3, 2023

Dear Clarence School Family,

While many months of the school year are broken up by vacations, holiday celebrations, and required assessments—March is made up of four and a half weeks that are wide open for teaching and learning. Between now and Spring Break, our students will have the chance to really drive their learning off the charts, and in the process, put themselves in a great position for the end of the year.

If, however, you have a high schooler who needs a bit of extra support, I would encourage you to have them attend our tutoring program that is offered for all students in grades 9-12. Each morning and afternoon, interested individuals can get academic help in the areas of English, Math, Science, Social Studies, and World Languages. The tutoring is provided by members of our secondary faculty each day from 7:45 a.m.-8:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m., and information regarding locations can be found by clicking this link.

School Bus Safety a Priority

If you are a Clarence Bee reader, you may have seen an article from Emily Stoll this past week on bus safety. In the piece, Emily highlights the fact that drivers “have the difficult task of simultaneously driving the bus and taking care of any problems the kids might have while under their care.” Lucky for us, Clarence has a Transportation Department that is filled with caring, dedicated bus drivers as well as bus attendants. The individuals are some of the best around, and they go above and beyond to transport nearly 5,000 public and private school students to 56 locations each day. (No easy task—especially at a time when New York State is experiencing a 15-20% shortage of drivers.) To ensure they are conducting their work as safely as possible, our drivers and attendants are friendly but firm, and they complete trainings each year that specifically address school bus management.

There are times, however, when students make poor decisions related to their words or actions while riding the bus. This is not something that is unique to Clarence, but it is something that we take seriously and address with interventions which are detailed in our Code of Conduct. If your child happens to be involved in one of these bus incidents and you would like to talk in more detail, I would encourage you to reach out to the appropriate person using our “Communication Guide.” Our Head Bus Drivers as well as our Supervisor of Transportation are experienced professionals who are used to resolving problems on a regular basis, and they are committed to doing whatever it takes to keep kids safe.

2023-2024 Vacation Dates

We are putting the finishing touches on our 2023-2024 school calendar, and we anticipate having a final draft ready for Board of Education approval at its March 13 meeting. If you are starting to make arrangements for future trips or childcare, however, I have provided the dates for our major vacations below:

  • Thanksgiving Recess: November 22 - 24
  • Winter Recess: December 25 - January 1
  • Mid-Winter Recess: February 19 - 23
  • Spring Recess: March 29 - April 8
  • Memorial Day: May 24 - 27

Advocacy with Elected Officials

As we move into March, more and more of our time is being spent developing a proposed budget for the 2023-2024 school year. So far, we have assessed current spending, reviewed existing programs as well as services, and closely followed funding news out of Albany. I am pleased to share that early news from the State Capitol has actually been really positive. The Governor has indicated a commitment to fully funding Foundation Aid (a major source of revenue for schools), and we hope that the Assembly as well as the Senate will follow her lead in the weeks ahead as they approve a State Budget.

To advocate on a local level, members of our team met earlier today with Assemblyman Michael Norris to talk about different financial as well as legislative priorities. The conversation was honest, productive, and focused on ensuring that Clarence continues to be a place that meets the learning needs of all students. We appreciate all the support that Assemblyman Norris gives to our District, and we would encourage you to reach out as well if there is an issue you feel passionately about. To help, we have put together a website with the contact information for our elected officials, as well as provided a handful of advocacy tips below. 

Reach out often. Elected officials review communications from constituents on a daily basis, and they rely on the calls, letters, and emails when making informed decisions. (After all, there is some truth to the old adage, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease”.)

Be clear and compelling. Personal stories, handwritten notes, and specific asks are often more meaningful than form letters or lengthy communications.

Follow up and express appreciation. The most effective advocators keep in regular contact, and notes of thanks can go a long way in establishing positive relationships.

Winter Sports Season

From Bryce Tubin’s game-winner against Frontier, to our boys taking on Orchard Park in the Sectional Finals for Hockey at the KeyBank Center, our Red Devils have had an exciting end to the Winter Sports Season. However, while many of our athletes are turning their attention to Spring Registration, we wanted to acknowledge some of our students who are making us #ClarenceProud by competing at the State level.

  • Sarah Zulick (Girls Bowling)
  • Jacob Sivic (Alpine Ski Racing)
  • AJ Didas and Bryce Hawes (Wrestling)
  • Olivia Chapman and Mya Wozniak (Gymnastics)
  • Emmett Forrestel (Track and Field)
  • Kyle Priset (Swimming) and Ryan Manning (Diving)

Additionally, we would like to wish our Competitive Cheer Team the best of luck as it competes in the State Championships tomorrow in Binghamton!

Finally, if you follow our District Calendar/Handbook, you will see that next week many of our families will be celebrating significant religious occasions. If you are observing Purim on Monday and Tuesday (a holiday commemorating the deliverance of Jews in ancient Persia), please know that we wish you chag Purim sameach.

And if you are celebrating Holi—a popular Hindu festival—“may you be gifted all the colors of life, colors of joy, colors of happiness, colors of friendship, colors of love, and all other colors you wish to paint in your life”. 

Have a great weekend, Red Devils.

Matt Frahm
Superintendent of Schools