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Skaneateles begins new school year with enthusiasm

New Waterman Principal Gary Gerst got down to eye level and greeted students as they got off the buses for the first day of school.  “How are you doing?!”  he asked enthusiastically, asking for high fives.

New Waterman Principal Gary Gerst got down to eye level and greeted students as they got off the buses for the first day of school. “How are you doing?!” he asked enthusiastically, asking for high fives. Lori Ruhlman

— The upbeat tone that greeted students on the first day of school Wednesday, Sept. 5, was felt a day earlier by Skaneateles Central School District staff as they met in the high school auditorium for an annual kick off.

Board of Education President Evan Dreyfuss and interim Superintendent Judy Pastel applauded staff members for the excellent education they provide Skaneateles students. They talked about how the district will move forward in a dynamic and positive way.

“The last couple of years have been challenging,” Dreyfuss said. “We have made it through some pretty tough budget cuts from Albany. We’ve had challenges for the staff, administration and board.”

The future is bright, Dreyfuss said. On the offense, the board is putting the business of education first. “We are ready for continued greatness,” he said. “For a few years, we’ve been reactive. This is our chance to be pro-active … and to set a vision, strategies and goals.”

Dreyfuss was joined by all but one of the board members during the opening assembly for staff. (The next day, on the first day of school, the entire board greeted high school and middle school students as they got off the busses. Board members then divided up to visit every building).

The board’s job, Dreyfuss told staff, is not to micro-manage, but to support the staff and the students and to “empower every type of aspiration a student may have. If we have students whose goal is to perform on Broadway, we are here to help you with that,” he said. “If we have students who want to get into the schools of their dreams, or to play Division I sports, or to join a platoon in Afghanistan, or to join the work force, we are here to help you with that.”

The board wants to take the district from “a top 2 percent school” to the top 1 percent, Dreyfuss said. “We want to be the best district to work for,” he added.

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