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Fredonia: District needs some urgency

Dr. Bradley Zilliox is coming into a trying situation at Fredonia Central Schools as its new superintendent. What was once a model district has been filled with public tumult in recent years.

A principal was ousted. A coaching position was surrounded with controversy. Former Superintendent Jeffrey Sortisio received a contract extension and then bolted to Eden Central Schools in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, which left a void at leadership.

While interim leader Dr. Colleen Taggerty had a solid resume to oversee the district in a transition, it is obvious she was there to see things through — not get things done. Because of that, Fredonia is behind every other district in terms of bringing students back into the classes.

Based on the most recent school board meeting, frustrations are continuing to mount. “These things don’t have to do with the pandemic,” said parent Julie Mikula at the board meeting Tuesday. “They have to do with poor leadership and lack of planning.”

That is exactly where Zilliox comes in — and he seems ready for the challenge. “In all of this, I recognize that it’s a very interesting time in education,” he said. “I recognize there’s a lot happening in Fredonia and around Fredonia. … (We will be focusing on) adjusting and adapting our plans moving forward to make sure people are as safe as possible, but also to provide that education that we know is critical to our young people.”

For Zilliox, there will be no time to adjust or get accustomed to his surroundings. He will, through the current crisis, begin on the hot seat.

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