City schools realignment nearly ready

The realignment of buildings in the Dunkirk City School District is about 95% complete, according to a report by Superintendent Mike Mansfield on efforts to prepare for the upcoming school year.

School 4 on Central Avenue, which is set to be converted into a center for various organizations’ early childhood programs, is “actually empty and cleaned up,” Mansfield told the Dunkirk Board of Education this week in his report.

Mansfield mentioned that a center for autistic children, a Boys and Girls Club of Northern Chautauqua County, and SUNY Fredonia’s children’s center for the campus and the community, are all slated to use School 4.

“The issue now is to get in front of the Board of Education with lease agreements,” he said. Another key point is “getting all these people together and talking about how we’re all going to get along in that building,” he added.

As for the realignment overall, “the projects for relocation are underway or complete,” Mansfield said. Schools are now working to get individual staff members situated in their new spaces, and fine-tuning instructors’ needs.

Grades seven through 12 will be held at the high school on Sixth Street while grades three through six will attend nearby Dunkirk Middle School. Schools 3, 5 and 7 will hold kindergartners, first- and second-graders.

A big unknown in the whole operation, and the 2021-22 school year in general, will be what is going on with the COVID-19 pandemic. Mansfield said the district currently plans in-person learning at all its buildings, five days a week. They also have an ample amount of masks on hand should they be needed, he added.

However, he acknowledged there are still many things that are unclear: testing, social distancing, contact tracing and what, if any, restrictions should be placed on the unvaccinated. Much of that, of course, will be up to state and county health officials.

“At least this year, we have some experience,” Mansfield said. “Last year, we were flying blind.”


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