Ed board discusses reduction in seats

WESTFIELD – There will soon be fewer seats available on the Westfield Academy and Central School Board of Education.

Discussed during the February WACS meeting was reducing the number of seats on the WACS Board of Education, which was a ballot proposition passed by the voters during last year’s budget vote.

School Superintendent David Davison reminded the board of how the seats will be reduced from nine to seven over the next three years.

The schedule will be as follows: in May there will be three seats up for election, but only one will be filled for a three-year term, bringing the number of total seats to seven; in May 2014 there will be three seats up for election, but two of the seats will be for three-year terms and one seat will be for a two-year term; in May of 2015 there will be three seats up for election and all three will be for three-year terms.

From there, there will be two seats open in May 2016, two seats open in May 2017 and three seats open in May 2018, all for three-year terms.

Also at the board meeting, the board approved a resolution authorizing Davidson to serve as a district representative and contact person to work with BCS to seek funding for a comprehensive study of reorganization and related referendum expenses of a centralization of the two districts. Cockram asked if there were any benefit of being the lead district, to which Davidson replied no, other than having to do all the work.

The board also passed a resolution casting its ballot for Edith Byrne of Fredonia, Sylvester Cleary of Forestville, Joseph DiMaio of Jamestown, Martha Howard of Silver Creek and Norman Upperman of Clymer for three-year terms to the Chautauqua County School Boards Association Executive Committee as well as for Byrne as President, Gary DeLillis of Sherman as First Vice President and Upperman of Clymer as Second Vice President. The resolution also approved the amendments to the CCSBA Constitution and By-Laws.

During the discussion items portion of the meeting, Edwards relayed what was talked about at the legislative breakfast held in January. Most of the questions being asked of New York State Assemblyman Andrew Goodell and New York State Senator Catharine Young at the breakfast were along the lines of what can districts do when the state is decreasing, or at least not increasing, its aid, and also how districts can better forecast state aid, Edwards reported.

She also said there is still no clear answer from the state as to how to handle school insolvency. There was also talk about the Governor’s State of the State speech where he mentioned mergers, regional high schools, longer school days and funding pre-kindergarten.

Edwards brought up the disconnect between the fact that districts are talking about cutting kindergarten, which is non-mandated, and the Governor is talking about funding pre-kindergarten.

“We think they know what position we’re in, but we need to constantly communicate with (our state politicians) so that they understand how close we are to the edge of financial insolvency and educational insolvency,” Edwards said.

Edwards noted Lobby Day will be Sunday, March 10 and Monday, March 11 in Albany and that it would be great if WACS could get some people to attend.

Greabell added to Edwards’ report by mentioning the downstate districts are not facing the same problems, so the leadership from there does not understand the financial problems of upstate schools. Cockram added Young’s “grand accomplishment” was to skew the formula so lower wealth districts received more state aid.

The BOCES annual meeting and component district vote date has been set for Tuesday, April 23. Since the WACS Board of Education must meet that night to vote, the board moved its meeting scheduled for April 22 to the following night.

During her report Elementary Principal Shanda DuClon reported the Westfield Teacher’s Association’s Circle of Friends concert raised over $4,500 for Aili Makuch’s family, an “impressive amount of money,” according to Greabell. Secondary Principal Ivana Hite reported 63 percent of middle school and 51 percent of high school students made the merit or honor rolls for the first marking period. Greabell commended Hite and the staff on the high percentages.

During public comment, Brocton resident Bobby Wise asked what initiatives the district is taking on anti-bullying. Hite mentioned the group Sources of Strength, having a Champions for Today assembly and Jamestown Business College’s anti-bullying presentation. Wise, a 2008 BCS graduate, shared he was bullied and has now created a non-profit, anti-bullying program, which can be found at hateisugly.com. He described it as a creative way of approaching anti-bullying and is trying to team up with all the schools in Chautauqua County, maybe even making it a BOCES service.

During board member commentary, Cockram suggested making changes to the policy regarding voters submitting propositions on the school’s ballot since it does not specify if such a proposition, if passed, would be binding or just an advisory referendum.

In other business:

Christopher Rickerson was approved as a certified substitute teacher for the remainder of the 2012-13 school year;

Nannette Knappenber-ger was approved as a certified long term substitute teacher for elementary music;

Kim Klaes was approved as an uncertified substitute teacher for the remainder of the 2012-13 school year;

Donald Eggleston was approved as a volunteer tennis coach for the 2012-13 school year;

Chelsea Froman was approved as an uncertified substitute teacher for the remainder of the 2012-13 school year;

Carol Schutt was approved as a substitute school nurse for the remainder of the 2012-13 school year.

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