Reconfiguration talks continue

OBSERVER Photo by Jimmy McCarthy Claudia Szczerbacki, vice president of the Dunkirk Board of Education, gives an update on school reconfiguration discussions that board members and the district’s faculty, staff and parents are having. During Tuesday’s board of education meeting at the high school, she noted that there’s great questions and a lot of ideas.

After today, all Dunkirk schools involved in reconfiguration talks will have been visited by Superintendent Dr. James Tracy and school board members.

Initial discussions with the four elementary schools are complete. Tracy and board members will meet with stakeholders from the middle school today.

With the district in the early stages of reconfiguration talks, Tracy says a questionnaire will soon go out to all parents, teachers and administrators to further gauge their opinions on the idea. Also, a committee comprised of more than 10 stakeholders will form to analyze data and response from the public.

Tracy told the OBSERVER that the plan is to have a presentation on what the committee gathered for the school board sometime in the fall. Board of education members would then make a final decision in November on whether the district should move forward with a reconfiguration plan.

It was December when Tracy first outlined his proposal, which detailed placing the same grade levels in the same buildings. The plan detailed 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.

Upon hearing Tracy’s plan, board members stated the need for more time in order to examine the impacts, speak with stakeholders and search out other possible options.

Since then, board members Claudia Szczerbacki, Betsy Ramos and Loretta Slaton Torain visited Schools 3, 4, 5 and 7. Szczerbacki said during Tuesday’s board of education meeting at the high school that great questions and a lot of different ideas came about.

“Hopefully by listening to them, maybe we can come up with something different than what we’re proposing,” she said. “Right now it’s really in the early stages, but I think it’s going really well.”

Szczerbacki went on to say that she’s glad the board is giving everyone a chance to weigh in on how things should go.

Tracy said he thinks the process is also going well. Tracy said the board met with each school to give a little background while listening to what they had to say and answering any questions.

As for the committee the district’s looking to create, Tracy said it’ll include three to five parents, three teachers, three board members and two administrators. Through the summer months, Tracy said the committee will delve into all aspects of reconfiguration from various options to the costs and impacts associated with them.