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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Julius Caesar and the Bridge to Everywhere

March 15th in the year 44BC.
The Ides of March.
Julius Caesar, dictator of the Roman Republic was assassinated on that day when he was fatally stabbed twenty-three times by a large group of conspirators.

Many, many, many years later.

March 15th, 2012.
I was scheduled to speak at a community forum on the impact of a loss of $348,080 of revenues due to the inability of a local power authority to make their annual contribution in lieu of taxes.
Though I was certain not to suffer the same fate as Caesar, there was the potential for daggers thrust in the form of angry remarks by irate tax-payers regarding the prospect of a significant tax increase proposal to support the school.

It didn't happen.
I presented information on what happened to our budget and why, what we've done so far, and what we plan to do in the next several weeks to construct a budget that will seek to balance mission and money - the needs of our learners and the capacity of residents to fund the investment. Instead of expressing rage, worried residents proud of their small community and school district asked only a few questions about the road ahead. It was reassuring as our board of education and I move forward in examining data and wrestling with difficult decisions. It was reaffirming for me as a superintendent in the second year of serving the community.

March 15th, 1977.
The Green Island Bridge, which spans the Hudson River and connects to the city of Troy, collapsed under the impact of flooding caused by snow melt, 2,7 inches of rain over a short period of time, and the resulting run-off. The current bridge was not completed until four and a half years after the collapse.

Thirty-five years later Green Island has an opportunity to ensure that a strong bridge connects the community with it's school district. A bridge that will withstand the onslaught of a considerable decreases in state aid, a similarly sized reduction in federal grants, as well as the loss in funding from the local power authority. A bridge that will allow today's learners cross over to become tomorrow's leaders. A bridge that will help transport learners toward their dreams and hopes. A bridge to everywhere...

May 15, 2012
We don't have four and a half years to fix the bridge. We have two months to reinforce the bridge and buttress the structure before the community votes on the proposed budget. There's a great deal of cooperative work to do, creative ideas to generate, and a commitment to make around common goals and shared meanings.

We'll see.

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