BOCES not coming to Fredonia campus

The Fredonia Central School District will not be housing Board of Cooperative Educational Services students on its main campus.

In an agreement ratified in July by a unanimous vote of the Board of Education, BOCES will continue to lease space at the Wheelock school. The organization is leasing space on the main campus, but for what Fredonia district superintendent Jeffrey Sortisio called “technology integration” led by Andy Wheelock.

“One of the things that we did when we moved kindergarten to Wheelock is we had to find spaces for some of our partners and that’s why there is some BOCES use of space on the Main Street campus,” Sortisio told the OBSERVER.

The BOCES presence at Wheelock will also involve technology work, for staff development, Sortisio said. There will be no BOCES students at Wheelock, he added.

The agreement lasts until June 30, 2020, and BOCES is paying $10,457.81, according to the board’s resolution.

The district will not be housing another segment of students that BOCES believes can be integrated into the community. BOCES was in talks with Fredonia administrators to move classes of such students to the district. Fredonia Teachers Organization union members alleged at the Fredonia Board of Education’s June 11 meeting that administrators had not adequately communicated with them about the proposal.

“We had been talking with BOCES about possibly integrating some of their special education classrooms on the Main Street campus,” Sortisio said. “As we took a really deep exam of it, unfortunately we are just not able to accommodate their needs at this time.”

The superintendent said the decision was “based on a number of different things going on at this campus,” including an ongoing construction project and turnover on the district administration team.

Notably, former Elementary School Principal Amy Piper is moving to a new position centered on the Wheelock school for the 2019-20 school year.

“The timing moving forward just wasn’t right,” Sortisio said. “Every person involved was very much in favor of integrating special education students into the system and understands the value of that. It’s about logistics we couldn’t overcome in a short period of time.”

The Brocton school district housed the BOCES classrooms in question previously, and now will continue to do so, Sortisio said. In addition, he added, the Chautauqua Lake school district will now also house classrooms for the program.

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