Next Steps For Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) within Gananda Central School District

December 3, 2021

Gananda Families:

This past June the BOE sent out a letter discussing the direction we were taking regarding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). In that letter we said that we would keep the school district community informed on our progress and offer opportunities to engage in discussion about our direction. We have reached a point in our journey where we want to introduce the Gananda Central School District policy on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, present an overarching statement about DEI from the district, and discuss what the next steps are for the district on this journey.

The district mission, established by the Board of Education in 2016, is to “Educate All Students for Success”.  The Board, Administration, and our staff take this mission very seriously.  We have been working towards a more personalized learning environment over the past 5 years that includes ensuring we meet all students where they are in relation to their educational and social emotional needs.  Our students and their families continue to come from more diverse backgrounds and needs, and with that we recognize that we must formalize our policies and our intentions as to how we will continue to operate as a school district to ensure we are fulfilling our mission by providing a more responsive, equitable and diverse educational environment.

The Board of Education has approved a DEI policy that will help guide the district. This will ensure that we are staying true to our mission and achieving the best educational outcomes for all. This policy was approved after its second reading, at the board meeting on December 1st.  The first reading of the policy was done at the November 10th meeting when the policy committee presented its first draft for the board to review. This policy was developed with guidance from the New York State Board of Regents Policy on DEI established in May 2021 and a thorough literature review from many sources on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The District’s Equity Committee has established a statement of intent for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The Board of Education has approved its adoption as a communication of our vision of what diversity, equity, and inclusion will mean to our students, staff, and families. This statement also sets the expectation of the environment while students, staff, and families are members of the Gananda Central School District.  Both this statement and the DEI policy can be found on the district's website under the DEI Section.  

The district will continue to move forward looking at all of our policies, systems, educational data, and our curriculum to ensure we are living up to our educational mission, and our DEI statement.  As we have learned over the past year, many of our inequities can be found in the simple ways we have always done things, but when seen from a different perspective can have a negative effect on the educational outcomes for some students and staff and impede all of us from achieving our best.

We would like to address that our decision to move forward on DEI has nothing to do with Critical Race Theory (CRT). Critical Race Theory is primarily an analytical tool for law students and others in higher education to examine the impact of historical and present-day racism on the legal system and public policies.  Critical Race Theory is not part of New York State learning standards nor part of our curriculum.  The focus of our DEI priorities is to ensure that all students have the opportunity to achieve and are provided the best educational environment to allow for their success.

We hope that you will support and embrace the district's efforts to continue to move forward in making Gananda a more open and diverse educational environment where all students believe they have the opportunity to succeed. We invite you to be a part of our virtual community forum on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion on Wednesday, December 8, 2021 at 7:30pm. Registration is required to attend; you can register online by clicking the link below:

Register for Virtual Forum on DEI December 8 at 7:30pm

We hope to see you there.


Sincerely,

Bill Buchko, Board President (he, him, his)

Greg Giles, Board Vice President (he, him, his)

Lisa Finnegan, Board Member (she, her, hers)

Steve Nims, Board Member (he, him, his)

Shauna Phillips, Board Member (she, her, hers)

Robin Vogt, Board Member (she, her, hers)

Patti Walker, Board Member (she, her, hers)