4-24-2020 HCS Updates

Good Afternoon,

As always, it is my hope that at each juncture the district is communicating with the HCS community, that you are doing WELL… and that our students are doing WELL.  An important update today from the Governor, when asked about a timeline for a decision on whether schools will reopen after May 15, he responded that he will make a decision “next week.”  Regardless of the outcome of the governor’s decision, there will be significant implications for our students, families, faculty, and staff. It is our commitment to all of you that we will be responsive in as quickly a manner as possible to provide answers to the questions that will invariably follow either determination of a reopening or an extended closing that lasts throughout the remainder of the school year. 

To state the obvious, this is a terribly uncertain time. How this manifests itself for each of us is different.  For some of us we may be struggling with family commitments, work commitments, loss of work, fear, boredom, and a plethora of other stressors. During this time more than ever, it is important that we strive for forgiveness of ourselves and for those we care most about in moments of "stress and obsess.” There is light on the other side of COVID-19 and WE WILL OVERCOME.

A silver lining to our experience with COVID -19 is that we are all  learning and growing as we navigate these unprecedented circumstances.  As educators, we know that learning means making mistakes.  In fact, I am confident that when we finally have the opportunity to thoroughly debrief the HCS response to COVID-19, we will identify areas that in hindsight we wished we had handled differently.  This learning will be important as we consider and plan for the future of the district and any similar subsequent circumstance. We thank all of you for your patience, flexibility and grace while we engage in learning as a district.  Now more than ever we are modeling for our children and for our students that grappling with unknowns, conflict and strife is a facet of life and it is human to not have all of the answers, it is human to struggle, and it is human to make a mistake.  Our moment by moment responses to COVID-19 will not define us.  Our reflection and growth following our experience with  COVID-19 as individuals and as an organization may. 

2020-21 Budget

There is no mistaking that the 2020-21 budget cycle will be a difficult one. We must balance revenues with expenditures, and frankly this is no easy feat for next year.  If you are following the news and the “state of the state” of New York, there may well be significant budget implications to all NYS school districts as a result of the state budget deficit.  Our Governor has spoken to possible budget reductions for schools ranging from 20% - 50% of total aid packages. This will be devastating for HCS, and for every other school district in our state.

The leadership team has closely examined reduction of costs by reducing allocations for materials, supplies, equipment, contractual, etc. Our unfortunate reality is that these reductions will likely be insufficient. HCS will have no choice if our state aid is reduced (beyond the already reduced amount)but to explore staffing reductions to balance the 2020-21 budget. Our objective will be to strive for minimal impact on programming and services that directly impact students and student learning. As we navigate the very difficult decisions ahead, please know that the leadership team will factor political, fiscal and programmatic implications - district enrollment, district priorities and goals, student and staff wellness and safety, SED mandates and guidance, class sizes, elective offerings - into these very difficult decisions. 

Please note, given that the determination of whether spending reductions in the NYS budget are called for will be made during four specified “measurement periods”—April 1 to April 30, May 1 to June 30th, July 1 to December 31, and January 1 to March 31, we are "on pause" with our budget process until we hear more about aid runs from the Governor post 4/30. I do not need to say it, but will...we fully recognize that even one staffing reduction, of any kind, will have an impact on HCS.

HCS Town Hall: A Discussion Surrounding the HCS Continuity of Learning Plan

HCS hosted a Town Hall on Thursday, 4/23 from 6:00 -7:00 to share information and provide students and families clarification on our Continuity of Learning plan.  To frame our discussion surrounding the HCS continuity of learning and distance learning plan, it is important to note that we are diligently striving to construct and execute a student centric model.  We want ALL of our students to be successful, PERIOD.  While factoring in State education guidance, it is important to all of us that students are held harmless for the unfortunate extended school closing due to COVID-19.  What this means is that while our High School students may likely see pass  / fail grades on their report card this year, we want to ensure that students have had opportunity to access instruction and to demonstrate achievement of learning outcomes for units of study completed.  Our Continuity of Instruction Articulation document was developed to provide students and families a clear and concise understanding about how distance learning would be implemented PreK-12. Our Distance Learning Rubric was developed to ensure that students and families had a clear and concise understanding about what measures would be utilized to determine a passing or failing grade in the event of an extended closing through the remainder of the school year.  

The information shared during the 4/24 Town Hall Meeting may be accessed at this link and reflects contributions from each of our leadership team members. 

Moving forward, it is important to acknowledge that the impact of COVID-19 equates to “trauma” for us and for our children. We must recognize that there will be a range of emotions attached to COVID-19.  We should acknowledge the sadness and disappointment for our students and how they may be feeling about the loss of school related activities.  Please try to stay connected with us at school. While distance learning may present multifaceted challenges for all parties, it does establish a somewhat consistent cushion of social connection that is beneficial during these times.  

Please tell your children how much we miss them and how eager we are to reopen the doors to their smiling faces.  We got this! We will be creative and responsive, and find comfort in each other and our small wins.  Take care of you. Be safe and be well.


Bridget Ashton


Elizabeth Bridget Ashton

Superintendent, Honeoye Central School District
8528 Main Street
Honeoye, New York 14471
On Twitter: @EBridgetAshton