By Jennifer Peters
Teachers, students and members of the Niagara-Wheatfield Central School District gathered in the Adult Learning Center at Niagara-Wheatfield High School Feb. 11 for a Board of Education meeting.
Community members were able to approach and address their concerns to the board. Due to the recent funding dilemma of the district, certain cuts had to be made, the music program being one of many.
Andrew Zuccari, a senior at Niagara-Wheatfield High School, was very passionate regarding his feelings toward reducing cuts on the music program. Music is Zuccari's source of inspiration and enthusiasm and having to make these cuts is very difficult for the students to consider.
"This sucks, what's happening to us, how our money is being taken away, and it's not by the board, it's by the state," Zuccari said. "The state is withholding money that belongs in public schools and the students are noticing, and the people are noticing. So help me, help the students."
Superintendent Lynn Fusco was ambitious about recovering some of the cut programs.
"At the end of last year, we had very limited athletics and very limited co-curricular clubs. Because we had some teacher retirements, we were able to reinstate some of those things. But we're pretty down to the bare minimum," Fusco said. "It's why it is so critically important for us to have GEA (Gap Elimination Adjustment) reinstated, as well as to have some additional state aid flowing to the district."
Both the board and Fusco are doing everything they can to help the students not lose these programs, they said. They added that they appreciate the responses and understanding they have received from the district.
"This community has supported us, even though we had to make those very difficult decisions and those very difficult reductions," Fusco said. "This community came out and voted positive for the budget. So I think they understand the predicament that we are in and they are willing to support us through it."
In other school board news:
•During the meeting, Fusco appointed Charles A. Smilinich to a tenure position as the principal of Colonial Village Elementary School. Smilinich helped serve the Niagara-Wheatfield Central School District as assistant principal of West Street Elementary School in 2009 and was then appointed principal of Colonial Village Elementary School in 2011.
"He builds sustainable and positive relationships with families, enabling them to take significant roles in not only their child's success, but also the success of the school as a whole," Fusco said.