Fredonia: Vocal minority was appreciated

No area superintendent has ever been as outspoken as recently retired Paul DiFonzo of Fredonia. DiFonzo, through nearly 15 years in the top spot, did not mince words when talking about opportunities for students as well as the region.

He had seen the decline of his district in terms of enrollment. He understood that fewer students meant less opportunities and options for those students.

He reached out to Forestville and Brocton for potential mergers. In both instances, the smaller school balked.

It did not deter DiFonzo, who maintained the message until his retirement. In an OBSERVER article looking back on his career on April 2, the former Fredonia leader did not hesitate to make his views known one last time. “The bottom line is our children all know each other … so why can’t we work together to combine school districts?” he asked rhetorically. “We have too few students and too many school districts, and I would say I wish I could’ve done more to make that happen.”

Admitting there is a problem and talking about it is a start. Unfortunately, neighboring districts, superintendents and school boards all too often bury their heads in the status quo.

On March 31, DiFonzo was “clapped out” of the high school by hundreds of students on his final day. We add our applause for his honesty and true understanding of the problem that bare-bones small schools may someday embrace.