New superintendent working on goals, vision for district

OBSERVER photo by Jimmy McCarthy A meet and greet was held for Fredonia Superintendent Jeffrey Sortisio before Tuesday’s board of education meeting.

Fredonia Superintendent Jeffrey Sortisio is several months into the job since his appointment in June, and he says the transition and the school year are going well.

But much work lays ahead in terms of developing goals and a vision for the Fredonia Central School District — not to mention potential changes as New York state prepares its plan for the approximately $1.6 billion it will receive annually under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Sortisio, who previously served as principal with Frontier High School, is still learning Fredonia and its culture. But so far, he said it’s been a lot of fun.

“The similarities between the student body and how much the staff care about the students is very similar to where I was previously,” he said. “That part and that transition has been wonderful. It’s a very caring and nurturing place not only for the students, but for the adults as well. I’ve certainly felt that since our first days together.”

Later this month, Sortisio and board of education members will be going on a retreat to discuss district goals. Right now, Sortisio said he’s been working through a comprehensive plan with board members and administrators. Teachers and the students will be the next ones Sortisio will be talking to.

“Some of those questions I’ve been asking are what does a Fredonia graduate look like, how do we reach all learners and what should our next steps be,” he said.

From the beginning, Board President Michael Bobseine said he was excited about Sortisio’s enthusiasm and interest in the students.

“In a very short order, he’s already started to move issues that he’s identifying as things the district now needs to work on,” he said. “He’s already starting to put together programming he believes could be helpful for moving the district forward.”

During Tuesday’s board meeting, Sortisio discussed New York state’s plan for the ESSA and what board members should know. Sortisio said the state wants to reduce testing time from three days to two days and improve the testing experience for students.

In addition, he stated the law requires 95 percent of students in each tested grade and subgroup take the appropriate state test.

“Our history shows we’re nowhere near 95 percent. I would imagine it would be a long time before we get there,” he said. “Certainly, it’s important we remain respectful of students and families’ decisions when it comes to testing. We’re also going to have to take a deep examination in what our practices are and how we can make the testing environment welcoming to our students.”