Fredonia school board to look into more shared services

Fredonia Central School may be opening its doors to additional shared services with surrounding school districts in the future.

During a special meeting Tuesday, the board discussed potential ways to share more of its services with school districts in Chautauqua County that are struggling.

“We’re at a point in time where districts are losing programming and everyone sees a need to try and combine and share services where possible,” Superintendent Paul DiFonzo said. “Maybe it’s time to reach out, and we had talked about doing this once with Chautauqua School Board, and finding out if other school districts are losing programming and having a difficult time maintaining what they have, because from that conversation could stem what we could actually share, still maintaining our staffing and what we offer to our students.”

DiFonzo added that in some districts, sharing information such as that is going to be sensitive.

Fredonia currently shares a pre-kindergarten program with the Dunkirk City School District. It has also shared a teacher with Silver Creek in the past. Additional shared services could potentially include the offering of advanced placement courses, which some county districts do not offer.

“We’re to a point where students are losing programming and boards really are stressing trying to make sure the children’s needs are met,” DiFonzo said. “It’s like when we asked Forestville to consider consolidation with us and we asked Brocton to consider centralizing with us. We have the paperwork to show that. I think we’ve been very upfront about wanting to share services and maximize what we can for students. I don’t think anyone in our district, as long as you’re not affecting jobs, (would argue with adding) an AP course selection where students could enroll.”

The board discussed a possible method of inquiring about additional shared services with other districts by going through the County School Boards Association. Board President Michael Bobseine said he would be happy to draft a potential resolution and/or letter to approach the CCSBA regarding a potential survey for area school districts.

Also as part of the meeting, the board talked about potential topics to discuss with David O’Rourke, district superintendent of the Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES, as part of an upcoming meeting. Fredonia is a participating school district in BOCES programming.

Topics the board came up with include: Fredonia’s role in advanced placement course offerings; the potential for distance learning as programming for Fredonia students; an extended assortment of courses BOCES can offer to Fredonia students; and the compilation of a list of needs and wants of all participating BOCES school districts.

DiFonzo said he would give O’Rourke a call to discuss an ideal time for him to meet with the board regarding these concerns.

The board also discussed its goals for the upcoming school year during the meeting. The goals, in order, are: focusing board meeting discussion on student achievement by utilizing presentations as appropriate; reviewing and adopting programs, policies and the district budget to promote college and/or career readiness; communicating with government officials, educational institutions and other BOCES component school districts to encourage changes beneficial to the district; and examining current student offerings and secondary school programs throughout the region with the focus to improve opportunities for students.

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