Message From JPS Superintendent On Proposed Budget
There are exciting things happening in Jamestown schools for the 2019-20 school year. In preparing the 2019-20 school proposed budget, we focused on three district initiatives to help all of our students succeed:
-Realigning student programming to better align with the requirements of colleges and the local labor market,
– Opening the Success Academy at the former Rogers Elementary School for students in grades 5-12 and;
– Launching Project LEAP (Learning Enrichment Academic Progress), an eight-week summer literacy program at each of our elementary schools, for 600 incoming first through fourth grades for reading support and enrichment.
We are able to do all of these initiatives, and still present a zero percent increase on the tax levy in the 2019-20 proposed budget, due to our commitment to better use the resources already available in our community.
Locally, there is a significant labor shortage for entry-level manufacturing and health care positions. New York State Education Department has a new Regents diploma called 4 + 1. This diploma permits students to take three courses in either health care or manufacturing technology in lieu of a Regents exam, helping students to have the skill sets to be immediately employable in entry-level jobs. Our partnerships with the Education Coalition, Cummins Engine, Jamestown Community College, the Manufacturing Association of the Southern Tier and JCC’s Manufacturing Technology Institute are assisting us in this transformation to help make our students employable and ready to work.
Sadly, there are over 1,700 students who are chronically absent in Jamestown Schools. This is due in large part to the trauma caused by children who live in poverty. Over 70% of Jamestown students live in poverty. It is a biological reality that children cannot learn if they are preoccupied with the mental impact of trauma, otherwise called adverse childhood experiences (ACES). Chronic absenteeism is an example of the manifestations of ACES. In order to address this problem, the district has partnered with municipal public health and mental health agencies, local pediatricians, the faith community and Boston College to set up “shop” in the Success Academy. Here, students will be given the supports and services they need to become resilient and successfully return to their school. The district could never afford to pay for the supports our children need to be successful. It is only through partnerships with our community services that we are able to attack this daunting problem in a fiscally manageable manner.
We all know that literacy is the academic key to success. Children need to be able to read in order to be successful in school. There is a natural regress of literacy skills during the summer months called “summer slide.” Most students catch back up quickly once school starts up in September. This is NOT true for students who live in poverty. Not only do they not catch up, but also the literacy gap compounds every summer so that by the time they reach 5th grade, many are only reading at a 1st or 2nd grade level and never catch up. This year, JPS is hitting this problem “head on.” We are bringing 600 K-4 students for eight weeks over the summer to their elementary school for two hours of literacy instruction with district teachers. In the afternoons, students will be welcomed into programs with our youth partners, the YMCA, YWCA and the Boys and Girls Club who will provide healthy social emotional activities for the balance of the day. This is also referred to as “wrap-around” services for students. Again, this meaningful and game-changing proposition could only happen through our partnerships with our community youth programs, youth organizations, local charities and other community partners.
The proposed 2019-20 budget does not increase the property tax levy for our residents. We were able to do this by working creatively with our county, city and community partners to provide much needed resources to our students. This budget also includes a capital outlay project to build a secure vestibule at Fletcher Elementary School and one proposition to purchase-lease school buses and equipment.
We hope that all registered voters take the time to vote on May 21 from noon to 9 p.m. at Lincoln Elementary School, Jefferson Middle School and Washington Middle School. If you are unsure where to vote, please contact JPS District Clerk, Jaunita Walter, at 483-4420 for help. Thank you to all of our community who continues to support Jamestown Public Schools every day in so many ways. As a district, we couldn’t do what we do for our children without our community’s support.