I would like to begin by thanking the Executive Committee for the opportunity to work with them this year. I’m looking forward to assisting CASDA as it transitions from the able leadership of Dr. Jim Butterworth to a permanent executive director for the 2018-2019 school year. I have been connected to CASDA for several years as a member of the Executive Committee, as well as having had the opportunity to Chair that group in the 2013-2014 school year. That perspective has helped tremendously as I begin my tenure as the interim Executive Director this year.
This is an organization with tremendous reach. Over 110 school districts are currently members. They include public and parochial schools that constitute almost every district from five regional BOCES from Questar III BOCES in the east to Herkimer BOCES in the west, to WSWHE BOCES in the north. Our member districts range in size from Newcomb to Shenendehowa and Schenectady, and needs range from very rural to densely urban. We have mostly public schools, but we also have the Diocese of Albany as a member as well as holding a seat on our Executive Committee.
With all of that, it takes an organization that is nimble, deep and able to meet a wide variety of needs. CASDA is the success it is as a result of being able to do that. Established in 1949, it is rapidly approaching its 70th year of operation. There are some striking facts about CASDA that I’d like to share.
This is an organization that cares. What I mean by that is that everyone here, without fail, will jump to help when a school or district contacts us for assistance. It is so striking that the mission of the organization is clearly followed by everyone here. That mission, to address challenges, embrace opportunities, and create positive, lasting opportunities for students is a lens through which everything that is done has as its focus;
The people here believe in their role as catalysts, capacity builders for the member districts, conveners on the issues, and developers of regional learning communities that use the best available research to develop evidence-based practice;
The organization has grown tremendously in the past decade, with a budget that has tripled, and a faculty and staff that has grown by a factor of 10. As a result, we have staff available that can assist on almost any topic. If it is a new area for our staff, they do the deep dive into the research to bring best practices to the members;
CASDA provides service that enhances and supports, not to be in competition with those offered districts by their regional BOCES. It is our goal to enhance and enrich those supports you already have in place, not to replace them.
As we move through this year, I will be on the road, traveling to meet with superintendents of as many of our member districts as possible, reminding you of our willingness to help, as well as our availability and desire to help our member districts improve. I encourage you to reach out to us for assistance when it is needed. That is our sole purpose, and what we wish to accomplish. We are your supporters, and are uniquely able to provide service on the widest range of topics imaginable.
I’m looking forward to my time here as the steward of this great organization, and will do all in my power to make it an excellent year for you as well.