Fredonia School Board member steps down after 15 years

As the Fredonia Board of Education prepares for its upcoming reorganizational meeting on July 8, one familiar face will no longer be present around the board table.

Longtime member Edith Byrne decided not to seek re-election to a fourth term earlier this year. She has served on the board since 1999, marking 15 years with her current term ending at the end of this month.

Both Superintendent Paul DiFonzo and Board President Michael Bobseine praised Byrne for her stewardship of the school district during Tuesday’s meeting.

“Mrs. Byrne has been an excellent board member for 15 years,” DiFonzo stated. “She was here when I started and was an excellent adviser for me and gave me very good information as a new superintendent. She was always supportive and did an outstanding job in all her years on the board.”

DiFonzo added Byrne went on to become the board president for the Chautauqua County School Boards Association, marking one of her “many successes.”

“I will miss her greatly and I wish her the best of luck in all her future endeavors,” DiFonzo concluded.

Bobseine agreed, adding he appreciates everything she has done for the district.

“After 15 years, she’s done a fabulous job and she is definitely going to be missed,” he said. “We wish her well. She’s got some things going on, so we just wish her and her family all the best and appreciate everything she’s done.”

Byrne was unable to attend the meeting due to family commitments.

She is the longest-serving member on the board out of all the current members.

“We had a presentation scheduled at the meeting for her (if she made it),” Bobseine added.

Also during the meeting, the board awarded a roofing construction project to Jamestown Roofing Inc. for $550,900. This is part of the EXCEL Capital Project and includes skylight replacement.

DiFonzo said although only one bid came in, the company is “reputable” and “has done exceptional work in the past.” The total cost is $180,000 below initial estimates.

Special Education Director Kristen Ferro updated the board on her program, which currently includes 17 teachers and 15 related service staff and has 163 classified students, as of June 19. Ferro added these numbers have been stable for a while and about 90 percent of the students are educated in district-operated programs.

The board approved a one-year maintenance service agreement for professional services through O’Connor Mechanical Corp. of Lackawanna. The contract is effective for the 2014-15 school year and costs $12,800, plus a dectron unit PM charge of $1,600, a decrease in the previous contract with Siemens.

Employment contracts with Stuart Strother, director of technology and communications, and Wendy Heslink, secretary to the superintendent, were accepted. Both contracts span the next three school years.

Letters of resignation were accepted from Heidi Powell, teacher aide, Timothy Schosek, TESOL teacher, Evelyn Malpica, bilingual teacher aide, and Ryan Sikorski, special education teacher. Powell and Malpica are leaving for personal reasons, Schosek accepted a position at another district and Sikorski received tenure as assistant elementary principal and will remain in that capacity.

Douglas Rector was appointed to the position of personal computer specialist for the 2014-15 school year at a salary of $33,000.

Contracts for art supplies for the upcoming school year were rubber-stamped, totaling $14,600.

The purchase of a hammer power rack 2/8 weight horns and hammer multi-adjustable weight bench was approved for $2,438. Business Administrator John Forbes said the equipment must replace the current bench to help maintain student safety.

The board entered into executive session to discuss the superintendent’s evaluation, negotiations with the Fredonia Teachers Association and the discipline of an individual student.

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