Weekly Feature

2017-08-10 / Front Page

Needs pave way for district future


Educational leaders in the West Seneca School District are collaborating to generate a master wish list as part of a districtwide needs assessment.

The scope of the list is to provide order and rank for when resources again become available to the district.

The list, presented during Monday’s School Board meeting by Jonathan Cervoni, Curriculum Cabinet facilitator of the Comprehensive District Education Initiative, incorporates desires and requirements from all departments across all educational levels.

Cervoni said the assessment is the next step in an inclusive effort to bring equality and balance between the east and west sides of the district.

“It began a process of collaborating and prioritizing,” he said.

Needs were grouped by themes such as buildings and grounds, classrooms and programs, technology and integration, professional development and staffing.

The district created the Curriculum Cabinet in 2016 with support of the Board of Education and former Superintendent Mark Crawford. The cabinet brings together leaders representing all levels of education, resulting in a significant savings to the district.

“We are maximizing the efficiency of the staff and identifying needs to enhance the learning of our students,” Cervoni said. “There is growth and excitement with this level of collaboration, and we are truly becoming One West Seneca.”

For many years, administrators functioned under a tight budget, said Cervoni, who also serves as the principal of West Seneca East Senior High School.

“We were in a mindset of scarcity for so long, you didn’t even want to ask. We took such efforts to avoid laying people off, and we knew what that would do to the morale of the organization. You were afraid to ask for things because you felt like it was rude,” he said.

Cervoni said future decisions should have a maximum positive effect on students.

“When and if we have resources, we need to use them wisely, because, if anything, the fiscal challenges made us appreciate when we have the opportunity to make a hire or add a program,” he said.

In order to dive further into the needs of the district, the cabinet created a needs assessment form that was sent to principals, curriculum specialists, directors and department chairs and leaders. A course inventory was also conducted to ensure there is balance and equity throughout the district.

About 100 responses were received, noting needs ranging from an additional clerk or painting a room, to adding science labs or constructing a new wing.

Phase two will be implemented in the coming months, separating the assessments by building and grade level.

“Throughout this process and through the cabinet we were able to create new leader positions where we were empowering our teachers at the middle and elementary schools,” Cervoni said.

An experienced staff is an asset to the district, and one that should be used, Cervoni said.

“Our teaching staff is not new, and that’s rare. There’s a power in longevity,” he said.

Cervoni said he hopes to implement continual assessment and fluidity to meet the needs and desired resources for everyone in the district. Now, the needs assessment will serve to provide a guide map as resources start to become available again.

“Especially in a school system, you need to work together,” Cervoni said. “We have some incredible challenges, and we have the most important job in the world in educating our youth.”

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