Dunkirk attendance improvements to be discussed

The Dunkirk City School District seems on par with other area districts in terms of attendance, but officials are aiming for a goal of as close to a 100 percent attendance rate as possible in the near future.

During a recent board of education meeting, Superintendent Gary Cerne gave out a report comparing Dunkirk’s attendance rates with those of both local districts and other Western New York city districts. Dunkirk maintained a 93 percent average attendance rate for the past six years, according to local records.

“Our numbers are not far off from other school districts, but obviously we want to shoot for every single student coming to school,” Cerne said. “Ideally, we would like to have every student here every day, but we all know that’s not realistic, so anything we can do to get that number above 93, we’re going to go after it.”

The board will hold a roundtable discussion with the district principals and social workers on ways to improve attendance rates on May 8 at 5:30 p.m. in the large group instruction room of the administrative building.

“We’ll be thinking of ways and incentives to keep kids coming into school and try reaching 100 percent,” Cerne said.

The board’s regular meeting will follow at 6:30 p.m., with a presentation on the proposed 2014-15 budget at 7 p.m.

Cerne’s numbers, gathered from the New York State Education Department’s website for the 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years, show Fredonia’s, Westfield’s and Forestville’s attendance at 95 percent for the average of the three years of data. Brocton, Gowanda, Silver Creek and Cassadaga Valley are all at 94 percent.

For other area city school districts Cerne pulled, Olean hovers around 95 percent; Jamestown, Salamanca and Lockport are all around 94 percent; Lackawanna is around 91 percent; and Buffalo is the lowest at 86 percent.

When taking a look at Dunkirk’s attendance rates at each school for the past six years, schools 4 and 7 and the middle school maintain at 95 percent; schools 3 and 5 stay steady at 94 percent; and the high school sees a more significant dropoff at 90 percent.

Also during the meeting, various personnel changes were made, including: Stephane Mercado and Veronica Bautista, both of Dunkirk, appointed as cleaners, both at $11.39 per hour; termination of Elizabeth Torres as teacher aide and Paul Mundy as golf coach; appointment of Valarie Csont and Dawn Hoth as teachers on special assignment for next school year and William Osinski as varsity golf coach at $2,154; and approval of resignations from Karin Seybold as temporary cleaner, Alan Buckley as business teacher and Renae Banach, COTA.

The board rescinded a resolution passed in October terminating Banach’s employment. A settlement agreement between the district and Banach was accepted.

Approval was given for a 2014-15 contract with Management Advisory Group Business Operations Inc. at $10,400 for Medicaid services and $9,180 for STAC services. The company helps the district navigate the complexities surrounding special education reimbursements, according to the resolution.

EXCEL Capital Project Phase III change orders for Ahlstrom Schaeffer Electric ($4,120), Transit Construction (overall credit of $2,000) and Mollenberg-Betz ($22,529) were accepted.

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