Full-time officer OK’d for Fredonia schools

The first of three local boards voted Tuesday to increase the hours of the Fredonia Central School District’s currently part-time school resource officer.

During its regular meeting, the Fredonia Board of Education unanimously approved a contract between the school district, the village of Fredonia and the town of Pomfret to provide a full-time SRO for the 2013-2014 school year. The school will pay $11,000, the town will pay $10,000 and the village will pay the remainder toward the salary and benefits of Officer Nate Scriven, who will be entering his fourth year as Fredonia SRO.

School Superintendent Paul DiFonzo said Scriven “does an outstanding job” and cited safety issues as the main reason for the boost in hours.

“I think it’s good for the students to see a police officer as a positive role model, someone they can approach, and I think if they have that person available in the school, it could help us to prevent issues outside of school,” he said. “They need to understand those people wearing those uniforms are there to be helpful and positive, whether it’s regarding just a simple question or whether they need help with a situation. The bottom line is having an SRO will provide those students and staff with that extra feeling of security and safety.”

With the school’s approval of the contract, the village and town are next in line to vote on the matter.

Also during the meeting, the board approved the official tax warrant for the upcoming school year. DiFonzo said there were no necessary changes or adjustments in the tax levy after voters approved it in May, so the amount to collect will remain as it was then.

Residents will be able to pay their taxes from Sept. 4 through Oct. 4 without penalty. A penalty of two percent will be assessed Oct. 5 through 31 and a penalty of three percent will be assessed starting Nov. 1.

The board also received a letter and petition from Teresa Bunge regarding the renaming of the school’s access road from Lakeview Avenue.

“I just want to distinguish that the road out back there is not named,” DiFonzo said. “There’s a sign placed there by a property owner that has nothing to do with the school. It was donated and put on the owner’s personal property.”

The name would possibly be changed to Hillbilly Drive. DiFonzo said he would look into the procedure to go about changing the road’s name. No action was taken by the board regarding the matter.

“So, I guess DiFonzo Drive is out then,” the superintendent joked.

The board also approved several grants and donations that will be coming into the school. Business and distributive education teacher Laura DePue received a $20,200 grant for the second year in a row from the Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund for the Pathway to Financial Success Program. DePue will once again use the money to purchase iPads for the high school.

A donation of $30,241 from the Fredonia Elementary Parent-Teacher Association’s Playground Fund Committee was also approved by the board. That money will be used to create an addition for kindergarten and pre-k students to the existing playground, according to DiFonzo, who called the donation “outstanding.” That addition will be installed in mid-September.

The board also approved a contract extension with First Student for transportation services for the upcoming school year. DiFonzo said the cost represents a small increase of 1.14 percent from the previous year. Regular runs will cost a total of $793,495. Sports bus runs will not increase in price.

A three-year contract with Eagle Systems Office Technologies was also approved by the board. That contract allows for a copier to be used in the early learning center at the Wheelock Building for a total cost of $3,139.

DiFonzo also presented an achievement award to board member Edith Byrne from the New York State School Boards Association. Byrne participated in the NYSSBA’s leadership development training and accumulated 75 points during it this year.

Toward the end of the meeting, the board entered into executive session to discuss specific personnel and pending real property tax litigation.

The next regular board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 10 at 6:30 p.m. in Room 636 of the high school. A board retreat is scheduled for Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the high school library. An audit committee meeting will be held Sept. 12 at 5:30 p.m. in Room 600. School opens on Sept. 4 for all students.

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