Jun 21, 2012 Stephanie Bouvia Uncategorized
Students and parents in the West Genesee School District will face many changes in the next few years.
The West Genesee Board of Education approved a redistricting plan that will affect 172 families in the area at its meeting Wednesday, June 20, in the West Genesee High School library.
The plan, which was passed with a 8-1 vote, shifts students and teachers around in order to better balance enrollment numbers. Although it will not go into effect until the fall of 2013, many parents at the meeting, particularly those with children who have special needs, were concerned about how a major change like this might affect their children’s academic performance.
“There are students that get a new teacher every year, possibly a new TA every year, and those changes always take effect each and every year. But in special area classes, they really mean a lot to the kids that they service,” one father said during the open forum portion of the meeting.
One mother in particular, Rosmyn Squitieri, was upset that some teachers would be moved to different schools. She said she feels her son, who also has special needs, deserves some kind of consistency.
“The only consistency he has had since we started at West Genny is Mrs. [Virginia] Cummings,” Squitieri said. “I was devastated, not to mention P.O.’d, to find out that yet again, in this young child’s life, who has a complicated life as it is, he is going to have someone who has been consistent and who works well with him change again.”
Cummings is one of many teachers who are being reassigned to a different school because of the changes the district is facing.
Before the board voted on the redistricting plan, Superintendent Christopher Brown made it clear that if it passed, he would not be able to make exceptions for every child being affected by the new plan.
“As I look at it, right now, as the superintendent, it’s going to be very, very difficult to call it a true redistricting if we vote on this, and the expectation is that I’m going to grant all kinds of exemptions,” Brown said. “It’s just not going to work. I’m not going to be able to be a ‘yes man’ to every single request that’s going to come to me.”
But, Brown said, he does intend to create a committee comprised of people who are not affected by the redistricting plan. This way the committee might be able to look into certain cases, such as borderline roads, that could be exempted from the district change, he said.
Although it was, at times, a tense meeting, board member David Paczkowski said he was sure the district changes would benefit students and parents alike.
“We’ve gone through some really tough times,” he said, “but I’m confident, as a board member, that we are meeting the needs of our students.”
Another change parents and students will see is the implementation of a full-day kindergarten program in the district. Currently, West Genesee only offers a half-day kindergarten program, but due to expected enrollment numbers, Brown said he thinks a full-day program is essential for students.
He assured the board and audience members that the district can afford a full-day kindergarten program, and that in the long run, the program, which would not be mandatory, would sustain itself. The board passed the measure to implement the program, which will not start until the fall of 2013.