When we welcomed our faculty, staff, and students back to school in September, we boldly predicted that this year we’d all be getting “back to Nisky.” After more than two years of pandemic-induced irregularities, we all looked forward to resuming the norms and traditions that make Niskayuna so special.
As I reflect back on our academic year, I can say with confidence that we’ve achieved that bold prediction. Our students returned to their classrooms; our athletes competed on our playing fields and courts; our musicians performed on stage before live audiences; parent volunteers were welcomed back into our schools and classrooms; buses transported hundreds of students to stimulating field trips within and outside the greater capital region. We are, without doubt, back to Nisky—and it feels great!
I want to take this opportunity to update you on some key work we are undertaking this spring.
2023-24 Budget: Work is well underway on next year’s school budget which we’ll present to voters for their consideration on May 16. As part of this year’s budget development process, we solicited input from our district’s leadership team, our faculty and staff, and our school community on our budget priorities. I want to thank everyone who responded to our Thought Exchange earlier this winter and shared your input. Based on that input, we’ve articulated the following priorities for next year’s budget:
- Investment in middle school programming and staff
- Successful launch of a new universal prekindergarten program
- A commitment to becoming an “employer of first choice” in our region
- A reinvestment in our school facilities
- Improving our capacity to serve ALL students effectively
- Initiatives that foster students’ safety, health, and wellness
- Fully leveraging technology to improve instruction and expand outcomes
- Ensuring sustainability for programming as COVID funding expires
Our board of education will be receiving regular updates on our budget development during the month of March. The board is expected to adopt a budget (for voter approval) on or before April 18.
Capital/Facilities Project: Contractors continue to make great progress completing campus modernization and upgrades as approved by voters in February 2021. Work on roof replacements and heating and cooling system upgrades at several of our elementary schools and at the high school are near completion. We’ve also seen remarkable progress at our high school athletic complex where new drainage systems have been installed, new artificial turf is in place, and new bleachers are installed. Later this spring we’ll complete work on our new track once weather permits us to sealcoat and paint the installed surfaces.
In January, we broke ground on a historic addition at our Iroquois Middle School campus where we will be adding 20 new classrooms and modernizing many of the existing classrooms. We are very thankful for the community’s continued support of our facilities improvements and look forward to commencing work at Van Antwerp Middle School during the final phase of this project. That work is expected to begin in early 2024.
Points of Pride: Our students and our staff continue to excel in their work, inside and outside the classroom. Here are just a few highlights of their success:
- Our varsity football team ended their fall season as Section 2 Champions, state divisional champions, and state championship semifinalists. Congratulations to our athletes and coaches!
- We recognized five students as National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists this winter. Congratulations to Anna Brown, Elizabeth Peng, Smyan Sengupta, Grace Sun and Vidhu Bulumulla.
- Two of Niskayuna High School’s academic teams, our Science Olympiads and our Robotics team, both placed first in their regional competitions in February and advanced to state-level competition this month. Additionally, the Iroquois Middle School MathCounts team won first place at the Regional Qualifiers hosted at GE’s Research Center in Niskayuna.
- Congratulations to Susan Kokernak, elementary and middle school music teacher, on attaining National Board Certification this winter! In addition, four Niskayuna faculty members renewed their certification. They are: Caroline Gardiner (World Languages), Bryan Mattice (Social Studies – History), Sean O’Connell (Exceptional Needs/Special Education) and Christine Spollen (Early Childhood).
- And finally, congratulations to our faculty and students on several great performances including our musical (A Chorus Line) and our Orchestra Festival!
It’s my honor to lead and serve our team at Niskayuna and celebrate the many accomplishments of our students, faculty, and staff.
Carl J. Mummenthey
Superintendent of Schools