Dundee Central School Superintendent Kelly Houck was in town earlier than usual Tuesday, Jan. 16, in time to join the early breakfast crowd at the Classic Cafe. Hashing over the problems of the world at the local breakfast spot is as American as any democratic forum, so it seemed to make sense for Houck to hold one of this month’s  Community Conversations there.

To reach out to members of the community who might not be inclined to attend a Board of Education meeting, open house or other school activity, Houck scheduled several Community Conversations beginning Jan. 9, when she met with people at the Our Town Rocks Office. Other meetings last week were held at the School and at the Dundee Library.

An afternoon session was held at 4:30 Tuesday at the Classic Cafe, and Wednesday, Jan. 17 she will be meeting with the Dundee Rotary at noon. The final meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 29 at the Our Town Rocks Office.

The community conversations are intended to engage all members of the community, and will help the district develop a new school vision. Houck wants to hear comments from the community about what the school is doing well, and what can be done better. 

At the Jan. 11 board of education meeting Houck said the four sessions she had already held helped her understand that the district needs to do a better job of telling its story to the public. She told the board there may be plans to find ways to use social media and other public relations efforts in the future.

Since 2016, Dundee school district voters have turned down two capital projects. The first, voted down in November 2016 included plans for $28 million in building and grounds improvements, including a new bus garage. Voters also nixed proposals for lighting on the main athletic fields and multi-purpose courts. The second plan, voted down in February, 2017, was a $15.9 million project replacing the bus garage and completing other main building improvements. 

Facing declining enrollments and increasing operating costs, Dundee and Penn Yan School Districts opened discussions last year on ways to work together to offer more opportunities to students.

Other business at the Jan. 11 Dundee School Board meeting included:

• Budget: Business Manager Melissa Lawson offered a first look at the budget categories for districtwide operations, which include central administration, central services, special items, community services, employee benefits, and debt service. She explained a new fiscal process that requires the district to report expenditures on a per-pupil basis. The next presentation to the board at the Feb. 8 meeting will cover student-based operations and revenues. 

The board will deliberate the budget in early March, and must adopt a proposed budget by April 12 in time to publish the budget issue of the newsletter by April 20. A public hearing will be held May 1, and the budget vote and election will be held May 15.