Dunkirk School Board needs more time to examine reconfiguration

OBSERVER Photo by Jimmy McCarthy Dunkirk Schools’ Superintendent Dr. James Tracy and Board President Dave Damico discuss the proposed reconfiguring at Thursday’s meeting.

A proposed school reconfiguration in Dunkirk isn’t going anywhere fast.

While school board members said Thursday they’d look into the option, they were in agreement that more time and more information are needed before any decision is made. Dunkirk Schools’ Superintendent James Tracy agreed and said more work will go on through the spring and into the fall to see if it’s the direction the district should go in.

In December, Tracy began discussions with the board on a proposal detailing Schools 3 and 7 as the learning destinations for pre-kindergarten to first grade. Schools 4 and 5 under his proposal would house second- to fourth-graders. Fifth-graders would move to the same floor with sixth graders at the middle school.

Tracy told board members at Thursday’s workshop that school reconfiguration isn’t the silver bullet, but rather the tool that can create potential to improve student learning in Dunkirk. Tracy also acknowledged that change is hard, but he feels it’s the best option that will put students in a better environment to learn and allow for collaboration among teachers in the same grade.

“This is not about establishing opposing sides. This is about let’s look at this: What’s the best way that we can produce and provide a quality education for our children in Dunkirk,” he said. “How do we make happen the things that we want to have happen that we’ve been working on since last year.”

Board President Dave Damico said the board is very early in the process in examining the reconfiguration proposal. He said it’s a good opportunity to establish lines of communication with the community, teachers, staff and administrators.

“As we were told, we have to look at doing something. What is that? I don’t know, but I do think we need to explore that,” he said.

Board members Claudia Szczerbacki and Loretta Slaton Torain both acknowledged their desire for more time and more information.

“We feel we need to do something but didn’t want to do something fast and have it be the wrong thing,” Slaton Torain said. “We want to have an opportunity to look at the proposal on the table but also consider other proposals.”

Talk ensued over the formation of a task force comprised of teachers, administrators, parents and board members in order to input from everyone.