One change sometimes leads to another.
“I thought I never would suggest (changing back to a two-week break) because we are most concerned about our student population and we always had the 30 to 40 high school students who are on the regional calendar and would be affected if we change back to the two-week break in April,” Fredonia Superin-tendent Paul DiFonzo said.
He explained with the new universal pre-kindergarten agreement with Dunkirk City Schools, it would make sense to have a similar break.
“We have a little bit more of a concern at this point now because if we are going to run a universal pre-k with Dunkirk and we have 150 of our students and six or seven of our teachers affected, that overrides. In my mind the group of high school students will still be bused to their BOCES classrooms during that week of school when we won’t have school for the other students,” he said.
DiFonzo said the change will not affect testing or test scoring schedules and goes along with the agreement with the teachers. He asked the board for any concerns it may have with the change.
Board Member David Giambrone was concerned about how it would affect sports scheduling. DiFonzo said he would look into the matter and report back to the board. He was also asked to look into how 3-1-3 students would be affected and how many schools have the two-week break.
The board also received an update one the UPK program. Director of Instruction Joe Reyda explained the Wheelock school will now be called the “Wheelock Early Learning Center.”
He said the program will have up to 156 4-year-old students from Dunkirk and Fredonia. The program will be staffed by existing Fredonia faculty, including seven full-time teachers including one bilingual teacher; seven teacher aides, including one bilingual aide; an administrator, a school secretary, a nurse and a teacher from BOCES.
He said the program will be almost completely funded through the grants Dunkirk and Fredonia districts receive and Dunkirk will provide transportation for its students.
Reyda pointed out the program will feature curriculum-based instruction according to the common core learning standards.
“Our UPK teachers have done a fantastic job over the past year getting very familiar with the pre-kindergarten learning standards. It is a curriculum-based program they are going to be running down there, not glorified daycare; they are laying the foundation for the common core,” he explained.
DiFonzo said Gov. Cuomo and the education commissioner have both stressed pre-k education as an essential level of learning.
Reyda added students will use seven developmentally-appropriate classrooms in one wing of the school, as well as have access to the gym, common areas and the age-appropriate playground.
DiFonzo said although the pre-k students will now be able to enjoy the age-appropriate playground, the elementary playground committee is still working toward constructing a playground at the main campus near the middle school gazebo.
In addition to the UPK program, Wheelock will also house Buffalo Hearing and Speech, Campus and Community Children’s Center wrap-around childcare and E2CC BOCES.
The board of education will next meet on March 26.