McCrea’s Monday Memo-9/22

Good morning WDEA,

I wanted to touch base on a few issues before the week got underway.  As always, if you have questions or concerns, please email me or the address or you can call/text my cell 315-882-6344.

We are re-forming (and reforming) the district’s Instructional Council. Please consider joining the group as a rep from your building and/or encouraging someone on your team that would be a good addition to the group. We will be meeting on Oct. 15 from 12:30-3PM to discuss Project Based Learning, Board Goals etc. as well as professional development in the district.  We hope to meet at least semi-annually or as issues arise.  The IC includes two faculty members from each building.  If more than two faculty members volunteer from a building, there will be an election within that building to determine who will sit on the IC.  Whether or not you’ve served on the IC before, I encourage you to volunteer.  The group, in its new form, promises to be an opportunity for spirited dialogue about our school and its mission.

Special thanks goes out to Liz Persons for leading our Westhill Warriors Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Team!  And thank you to everyone who has joined the team so far!  We are hopeful that many more will join, it’s not too late.  Our Westhill Warriors Team will be walking in this important event on Sunday, October 19 in downtown Syracuse.  If you can’t walk with the team, please join us online and make a donation to this important cause.  Making Strides Against Breast Cancer helps so many people.  Did you know that a donation of…..

  • $25 helps provide information and support for 2 people facing cancer?
  • $50 could help provide free lodging for a patient who must travel for treatment?
  • $75 may help give rides to and from cancer treatments for 3 people?
  • $100 helps guide 4 women facing cancer through every step of their journey?

In a district our size, with your help, we should easily be able to make our team goal of $1000.  Won’t you help us by either signing up to walk or making a donation?  Just search for our team (Westhill Warriors) at  Thank you so much!

We’ve been having conversations with the district and residents about an education foundation for a number of years. It took the right mix of administrative experience, community initiative, and vision to get the foundation off the ground.  A foundation grant is a very special opportunity to jump-start special initiatives in your classroom, I encourage all of you to consider submitting grant proposals this year.  I was part a foundation in my former district, and have been in touch with foundation leaders across the state.  As you consider proposals, I encourage you to survey some projects from those districts (see below).  By all means, think outside the box and consider bold initiatives that will help you bring your classroom and school closer to the vision you hold.  Casey has also offered to review any ideas or proposals and offer his suggestions for a successful grant.  What do you want your teaching (and students’ learning) to look like?  A foundation grant may be the very thing to get that done.

Check out these sites:!accomplishments

Please encourage your colleagues to join our Celly text notification group. If you haven’t done so already, please text @wdea3115 to 23559 on your cell phone.  Password: XXXX (see your building rep).  Ask your building rep if you need help.  Celly (and another text notification system called Remind) are great ways to engage groups of parents, colleagues, or students direct to their cell phones. It’s also a great communication tool in the classroom that you can use within our BYOD environment.

Have a great week.

In Solidarity,


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Vote Yes May 20th!

Please join us in supporting the Westhill Central School budget on May 20th. VOTE YES for quality education in the Westhill District.

The budget vote takes place on May 20th from 7AM-9PM in the foyer of the High School Auditorum located at 4501 Onondaga Blvd.

Learn more about the budget by visiting

Remember, you never stop paying for a bad education.

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Diane Ravitch in Syracuse April 1st

From CNYTeacher: Diane Ravitch in Syracuse April 1st.

The grande dame of public education advocates is coming to Syracuse on April 1st, 2014, for the Syracuse University Lecture Series. Spread the word among your education colleagues and concerned parents.  The failed policies of NY State Education Commissioner John King and the Board of Regents are ruining our children’s educational opportunity right before our eyes. This may be the most important debate of the decade.

The event is general admission, no tickets are needed, so plan to get there early. There has been an overwhelming response from the Albany and Rochester area as well. It would be great to have a Westhill contingent at the lecture, email Greg McCrea if you’re interested in attending.

Learn more by visiting:


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Tee Up for NYSUT Disaster Relief

Solidarity Golf Tournament

June 1st, 2014
Sponsored by
ESMUT & SRP Colleagues Caring for Kids & Community

The East Syracuse Minoa United Teachers and School Related Professional would like to invite you to the Colleagues Caring for Kid & Community Solidarity Golf Tournament on June 1, 2014.  This Captain and Crew event will be held at The Links at Erie Village and will benefit multiple charities, organizations, students and their families from across Central New York (including the NYSUT’s Disaster Relief Fund).

Our hope… is to have at least one four person team from each local in the Syracuse region attend this event.   This is a great opportunity to show your solidarity and union colors while raising money for a great cause. In addition to the awards and prizes during the tournament, I’m sure we can have a little friendly competition to see which local can take home the soon to be coveted solidarity cup.

The WDEA would like to sponsor a team (or teams) to attend the event on our behalf. We’d like to show our support for our colleagues at ESM and support this great cause.  The NYSUT Disaster Relief Fund has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to relief efforts across New York in recent years including the devastation caused by hurricanes Irene and Sandy.

Email Greg McCrea if you’re interested in organizing a team for the WDEA.  For more information, visit:

Solidarity Golf Tournament

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School FInance Workshop Wednesday

We’d like to echo the sense of urgency that the superintendent has been conveying regarding school funding in New York. The Governor’s budget proposals are more of the same monkey business that we’ve been seeing in the last few years.  Again this year, the budget includes:

  • Inadequate funding,
  • Refusal to fully refund the Gap Elimination Adjustment,
  • Competitive grants that have more losers than winners,
  • An education tax credit which would take money away from public schools and give it to private institutions,
  • And a “tax freeze” scheme that goes beyond the devastating tax cap and could force schools to a 0% increase virtually crippling their ability to raise funds.

Now is the time to speak out as teachers, parents, and families and demand the governor and our legislators adequately fund our schools. It’s time for them to keep their promises and revive the promise of public education in NY.

I know this sounds like the same old rhetoric from the union, but we’d like you to consider turning that rhetoric into action. Please join us next Wednesday at the CNYSBA workshop on school finances. Last year’s session was a real eye opener. It helped us frame our message when we met with our local legislators to discuss school issues.  The session details are:

February 5, 2014: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
North Syracuse Junior High School Auditorium
5353 West Taft Rd.
N. Syr, NY 13212


Dr. Rick Timbs from the Statewide School Finance Consortium will be there. He is engaging to listen to and is the authority on GEA across upstate. Part of his advocacy includes pension reform and reform of the Triborough law (the law which preserves seniority and tenure in NY state), two items that NYSUT clearly does not support. You may consider attending the event as a resident/parent in your home district. Your parental voice can be a powerful one and the Board of Ed members and superintendents present will definitely take notice of your attendance.

Thanks for everything you do. We hope to see you on Wednesday.

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2013 Dues

Some of you have asked how much our full dues were last year for tax purposes. The most accurate account of those dues is the YTD amount on your paycheck dated December 19, 2013 (our last check of the year).  Some of you may not have payed full dues because of time off or change in FTE status.

However for quick reference, the full time YTD dues amount was $690.08 for 2013.

Please contact your building rep if you have any questions about dues.

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Dental Plan Update

In January, the WDEA membership voted to change our dental insurance carrier from Excellus BC/BS to Ameritas (which offers a basic and enhanced plan) with an effective changeover date of March 1st.To that end, we met with the Ameritas team last week to discuss the transition of plans.

Based on the current calendar, including February break and the need to give our retirees at least a full 30 day notice, we will not be transitioning on March 1st as previously planned. More likely, our changeover will take place on April 1st. This will give both Ameritas and the district time to transfer data, contact retirees, and generally assure a smooth transition. We have also asked that dentists not in the Ameritas network, but on the Excellus plan, be contacted with plan details (including procedure reimbursement amounts) so they may consider joining Ameritas.

Thank you for your continued patience as we move forward with this change. Please speak to your building rep if you have any questions or if this delay causes any problems on your end.

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