Lancaster Central School District

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I hope this communication finds you and yours warm and safe. As you know, Lancaster, New York and the Lancaster Central School District were at the epicenter of a major weather related event.

First, I would like to thank the great people of Lancaster and our surrounding communities, the Lancaster and Depew Police, our volunteer fire companies, the Lancaster Volunteer Ambulance Corps, personnel of the town and village of Lancaster and Depew highway departments, Erie County highway department, the US National Guard and all other contractors and volunteers from throughout the Western New York community and beyond who all worked non-stop to bring some semblance of normalcy back to our neighborhoods. To all of them, my sincerest thank you. 

Within the district, our maintenance staff worked tirelessly removing snow, starting Tuesday morning and working throughout the week to keep up with the snowfall. Maintenance department crews worked around the clock to help dig our schools out and monitor our buildings, some even traveling to work by their snowmobiles so they could pitch in with the snow removal efforts. Transportation department staff worked to remove the snow from our fleet of over 100 buses and assist with clearing snow from the bus lot. We also had business office personnel brave the storm to complete business transactions so our personnel could be paid—thus removing that concern from the long list of storm related issues. To all of them, and so many others who played a part in assisting the district during this storm, thank you. 

Buffalo is truly the "City of Good Neighbors" because after one text message to the superintendents of Sweet Home, Williamsville and Clarence school districts, these neighbors immediately lined up equipment and personnel to assist us with plowing and snow blowing at our buildings.   It is amazing to know we can count on our neighbors and colleagues when we need them most. To those districts and all others who called or emailed to offer assistance of all kinds, thank you.

As the weather warms and the community continues to dig out, we are constantly assessing our ability to safely open the schools and get your children back to their normal routines. Below I’ve outlined an update on the past 6 days, where we currently stand, and how we will move forward toward resuming school, potentially on Tuesday:

  • By Thursday night (11/20), the parking lots and sidewalks of our schools in the north (the high school, John A. Sciole and Hillview) were completely cleared. The schools in the south (the middle school, William Street School, Court Street and Como Park), that were hit the hardest with the snowfall, were still under several feet of snow. Snow removal at places like the middle school was the most problematic because there was nowhere to push the snow.  We were able to secure private contractors to send pay loaders, dump trucks, and manpower to these schools to get snow cleared and hauled away. As of Friday, the parking lots and sidewalks at all of our schools were cleared and the buildings were ready to be open.
  • On Friday (11/21), the transportation department staff spent the day reviewing bus routes and strategizing on alternate routes and pick up points that would ensure the safety of our students when school re-opens.
  • From day one of the storm, our buildings have been monitored continuously by district staff. Custodians watched for interruptions in heat, electricity, and water service.   They walked their buildings looking for leaks, cracks, and any other structural problems or storm damage. There have been no issues in any of these areas at this time. On Saturday, each and every one of our buildings’ roofs was assessed by a team consisting of buildings and grounds staff and the district’s architectural firm and their engineers.
  • Throughout the last week, I have been in communication with the highway departments, the Lancaster emergency management team, and other essential community officials regarding the status of the community’s streets. Since Thursday, and especially over this weekend, they have made tremendous progress with clearing roads and have done a wonderful job.  Every Lancaster street is at least open and cleared enough for single lane traffic and in most cases two lanes. 

Today (Sunday, 11/23)

·       District staff continues to monitor each and every one of our buildings, particularly the roofs. All roofs were assessed again today for any damage or signs of potential damage that may have occurred. There are no apparent issues at this time.

·       Members of the transportation department and I drove throughout the district assessing whether school buses can successfully navigate streets and safely pick up students. Transportation staff was in last night and all day today re-configuring bus routes to deal with the fact that many bus stops are under huge mounds of snow. 

·       At this time, school is closed for Monday November 24 and a decision for Tuesday will be made before 5am Tuesday morning. The condition of our streets and neighborhoods is improving hourly, thanks to a wonderful town and village effort. But student safety has to be the number #1 priority and the huge snow banks that presently exist on bus stops and impede driver’s visibility, coupled with new challenges like flooding that is occurring throughout the community, and the 40-60 mile an hour high wind warning predicted for tomorrow morning and afternoon, all work in tandem for us to exercise caution. Safety is now, and always will be, the #1 priority. 

Plan for Opening (Potentially Tuesday)

  • As of today the busing plan for 11/25-11/26 is as follows:

K-6 students: Students will be picked up at the end of their driveways and buses will travel their normal routes, with the exception being cul-de-sacs that the buses do not normally travel down.  Students residing in those cul-de-sacs will need to proceed to the normal stops at the entry of the cul-de-sac. To assist the drivers and to help make these adjustments as seamless as possible, with the exception of cul-de-sac stops, all K-6 students should be at the end of their driveway at the time they are normally scheduled to be at their bus stop. Please be patient while you are out waiting for the bus as some pick up times will be delayed due to the addition of house stops.

7-12 students:  buses will travel their normal routes and students will be picked up at their normal stops.  If a bus stop is not accessible, students should gather for pick up at the closest clear and safe location on the route.   In all scenarios, bus drivers will use their discretion in determining safe stopping and pick up points for all students.    

Private school/parochial students: buses will not travel to schools located within districts that are closed or through areas that have travel restrictions. For students of schools that buses will travel to, buses will travel their normal routes but students will not need to proceed to their bus stops.  Instead, they will be picked up at the end of their driveways.  The only exception is cul-de-sacs that the buses do not normally travel down.  The students residing in those cul-de-sacs will need to proceed to the normal stops at the entry of the cul-de-sac. To assist the drivers and to help make these adjustments as seamless as possible, with the exception of cul-de-sacs, all private/parochial students should be at the end of their driveway at the time they are normally scheduled to be at their bus stop. Please be patient while you are out waiting for the bus as some pick up times could be slightly delayed due to the addition of all the house stops.

If there are questions regarding your child’s bus stop or your child has missed the bus, please call 686-3290.

Plan for any Future Snow Days

We have now used all 5 of our allotted snow days. Moving forward, in the case of school closings, days will be made up according to the following schedule: 

(1) Day to make up … 4/10

(2)Days to make up … 4/10, 4/9

(3)Days to make up … 4/10, 4/9, 4/8

(4)Days to make up … 4/10, 4/9, 4/8, 4/7

(5)Days to make up … 4/10, 4/9, 4/8, 4/7, 4/6

We understand this plan may require some alternate arrangements on the part of parents who are returning to work on Monday. Like any other district that has borne the brunt of this storm, we are concerned for the safety of all children and have made the determination that as of today, driving conditions, particularly at bus stops that still have high snow mounds limiting visibility, continue to present a safety risk to our district’s children. Thank you for your continued patience and cooperation as we work diligently to return to normal. 

Michael J. Vallely, Superintendent of Schools

Welcome

Dear Lancaster Parents, Family, and Friends...

With just a little over one month of school behind us, the school buildings and our classrooms are abuzz with activity and our students, faculty, and staff are back in the swing of things.

I hope everyone involved in the school community has had the chance to experience at least one event, from open houses, various mixers, academy kick-offs, and dances, to music performances and athletic contests. It's only October and we have already seen seniors sign letters of intent to accept athletic scholarships; received the names of a record number of AP Scholars; accepted a banner from the New York Public School Athletic Association as a School of Distinction; and been recognized by the Western New York STEM Hub (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) as one of a handful of Emerging School Systems.

One does not have to look far to witness firsthand the impressive things that take place in our school community. Lancaster Central School District has an amazing sense of community and this sense of common bond was reflected in the way in which faculty, and staff, volunteers, parents, and friends all came together to help a family and classmates cope with the grief and loss over one of our own. Over and over again during that difficult time, I heard that our deeply-rooted sense of family, of community, is what makes Lancaster truly the special place it is to live and learn.

At the forefront of making this school district special is a team of caring volunteers, your board of education. Board members receive no compensation and serve, during sometimes extraordinarily difficult times, to guide and support policy and direction for the school district. They are the unsung heroes of our organization and truly deserve our thanks and appreciation.

October 27-31 officially marks New York School Board Recognition Week, and I would like to take this time to publicly thank the community servants you elected to represent you on our board of education: Kenneth Graber, Esq., board president; Patrick Uhteg, board vice president; and Wendy Buchert, Bill Gallagher, Marie MacKay, Kim Nowak, and Michael Sage, trustees.

In addition to their traditional roles, this year our school board board members will be guiding us through the challenging task of reviewing options for a potential bond issue campaign as well as helping us maintain the delicate balance of fiscal prudence with exceptional educational programming.

Please join me in thanking these remarkable individuals. They are your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and elected representatives. They are ever-present at school events and a gesture as simple as a handshake is often all that is needed for them to know that we, as a community, appreciate their tireless efforts on behalf of the children of this outstanding school district.
 
Regards,
 
Michael J. Vallely, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools 

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The Lancaster Central School District's purpose
is to provide our students
with a comprehensive educational program that will allow them to develop fully 
the necessary academic and social skills 
to become responsible and productive members of a democratic society.