Dear Sackets Harbor Central School District Community,

I survived my first winter as a superintendent!  The District has had numerous delays, a few early dismissals, and three closure days so far.  Before I was a superintendent, I always wondered how weather-related decisions were made.  I figured you might be interested as well so I’ll give you a quick preview into “a wintry morning in the life of a superintendent”.  The day usually begins around 4:00 am.  I begin by accessing our live cam to view our parking lots and the weather conditions at the school.  It is also important that I look into the weather in Watertown and the northern portion of Jefferson County as we send buses to Jefferson-Lewis BOCES, to the parochial schools, and to Indian River Central School.  Next, I research various forecasts and radars.  At the same time I am researching, I call our Transportation Supervisor, Mr. Middlestate, who has already been in contact with Town of Hounsfield officials to get an update on road conditions.  Mr. Middlestate will also let me know how much time he thinks we will need to remove snow and get our building ready to open.  On these wintry mornings, I also communicate with the superintendents from neighboring schools.  As you can imagine, it is not always easy because meteorology is not an exact science.  We do our best to make decisions based on the data we have available and always with the safety of our school community in mind.       

I would like to thank you all for your patience and support as we have worked through the disruptions to our daily routines because of weather.  I would especially like to thank the Town of Hounsfield and Village of Sackets Harbor Road Crews and Highway Departments for their assistance during this winter.  They did a wonderful job ensuring the roads and streets were cleared and we could open school.  I am sure we can all agree that the arrival of spring is desired by all! 

I have some wonderful accomplishments to share with you all since the last edition of our newsletter was published.  Both our Varsity Boys’ and Varsity Girls’ Basketball teams made it to Sectionals.  The girls earned the right to play in the Sectional final game at Onondaga Community College but unfortunately were upended by Waterville.  Both teams played impressively throughout the season and were commended at our recent Winter Sports Recognition Night.  Our Cheer Squad had quite a comeback this 2017-2018 season and represented our District very well at games and competitions.  This past winter season, SHCS student-athlete, Kyler Martin, was one of three who competed on Indian River Central’s Wrestling Team.  He dominated throughout the season earning third place and a spot on the podium at the Sectional Tournament at Onondaga Community College.  Many thanks to our parents and fans who supported all of our teams and came out to cheer on our Patriots.    

Athletics hasn’t been the only arena we have seen our students excel.  We had five teams compete at the Odyssey of the Mind Tournament this 2018 season.  Three of those teams will be traveling to Binghamton University for the State Tournament.  Congratulations to Team Devito, Team Peterson, and Team Ketcham!  Also, Team Miller won the Omer Award and Team Ketcham received the Renatra Fusca Award.  SHCSD is so proud of the critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity displayed by our OM students.  Thank you to our coaches for your support of and dedication to our students.  Be sure to read the Odyssey of the Mind article in this newsletter.       

The remaining months of our school year are filled with many important and wonderful activities.  You can see the complete list of upcoming events located within this edition.  The School District will be holding our Annual Budget Hearing on Tuesday, May 8 at 5:00 PM in the Multi-Purpose Room (MPR) to review our proposed budget to go before voters.  The public vote will be held on Tuesday, May 15 from 1:00 – 8:00 PM in the Gymnasium Lobby.  Voters will cast a vote on the proposed budget, elect one Board of Education member to a five year term, and vote on two propositions.  The first proposition is to purchase a 66-passenger school bus as part of our nine year rotation cycle.  The second proposition will seek voter approval for the establishment of a capital reserve in the amount of $2.5 million.  This fund can be used to pay any local cost if the District must issue bonds to pay for a capital project, bus purchase or expenditure approved by the District’s voters.  It is funded through either a budget line appropriation or fund balance, but cannot exceed $2,500,000.  The School District would like to establish this reserve as part of our long-range financial planning to offset any local future costs.  The proposed 2018-2019 budget DOES NOT include any appropriation for this reserve fund.  Although the current Capital Project is addressing many of the issues of our aging facility, there are still areas within the District that need to be renovated and/or will need replacement at some point in the future.  Saving for these eventual projects now will help to offset any required funding in the future.  More information will be provided in the upcoming Budget Newsletter which will be shared with the public later this month.

It doesn’t seem possible that we will soon be planning graduation (Saturday, June 23 @ 10:30), Alumni Banquet (Friday, June 22nd), and all of the send-off activities for the Class of 2018.  Be sure to mark your calendars.  If anyone has any questions regarding the end-of-year activities, please do not hesitate to call the school.

This summer, Phase I of our Capital Project will commence.  The work will take place in the months of June, July and August and will include work such as roofing repairs and the repair/replacement of exterior and interior doors.  Our school offices will be accessible to visitors throughout the summer.  For the latest information on our capital project, check out our Capital Project Improvements Page on our website as I update the page each month (     

I would be remiss if I did not address school security in this edition of our newsletter.  Safety and security is of utmost importance to all of us here at Sackets Harbor Central School District.  The senseless act of violence, which occurred at a Florida high school, has caused Sackets Harbor Central School to evaluate and review further all safety and security procedures to make sure that we are as thorough as possible in our efforts to prevent a similar incident from happening in our District.  To that end, I wanted to take this opportunity to make you aware of safety initiatives and guidelines currently in place to protect our students.  Our school safety measures include, but are not limited to:

  • Coordination and emergency planning with Sackets Harbor Village Police and Fire Officials, Jefferson County Sherriff’s Department, and New York State Police, Fire, and/or Safety officials.
  • Development of extensive “Emergency Plans” for our school, updated annually and including evacuation sites and protocols, shelter-in-place details, lock-down procedures and parent communication directives.
  • Secured entrance at school.All visitors are required to sign-in at the Main Office.
  • Visitor identification tags, issued at the Main Office.
  • A minimum of 12 safety drills conducted during the school year, including lockdown and intruder drills as well as evacuation drills.We also practice mental lockdown drills which require staff and students to stop when prompted to then think about what they would do and where they would go in the event of a lockdown.
  • Utilization of interior digital cameras to monitor and record video surveillance images 24/7.We are currently implementing a plan to expand this surveillance throughout the entire school building.
  • Improvements made to outdoor lighting.
  • Ongoing safety training for employees.
  • Staff members designated to assist special needs students in an emergency/crisis.
  • Regular Safety Team meetings are held to review practices, procedures, and needed improvements.
  • SHCS Team Meetings are held consistently to discuss students in need of extra supports, guidance, and/or intervention.

    It takes all of us to ensure that our school remains as safe as possible.  Parents/guardians are asked to assist as well.  For instance,

  • Teach your children – if your child sees or hears something unnerving, s/he needs to say something!
  • Monitor your child’s social media accounts.
  • Keep school officials informed of student conflicts.
  • Inform the school if you notice breaches in safety procedures or protocols.
  • Share your ideas to improve school safety and security.

Thank you for sharing your children with us each and every day.  They are our most precious gift and we need to keep them safe and prepare them as best we can to make a positive difference in the world we live in. 

Please continue to follow the school activities by going to our web site or “like” us on Facebook and follow all of the news from Sackets Harbor Central School District.

Warm regards,


Jennifer L. Gaffney
Superintendent of Schools
Sackets Harbor CSD

Senior class graduation profile voice-over 2018











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