By Jordan Patterson
Inside Lincoln Elementary School, Jamestown Public Schools Board of Education held its meeting as part of its yearly rotation among district schools where the board accepted a $17,561 donation from the PROMISE Fund.
The PROMISE Fund recently held a musical instrument drive in September with the goal of acquiring financial donations and used instruments to funnel into the district’s music program. The end result of the drive saw 57 instrument donations for $15,735, seven instrumental parts donations for $335 and 19 financial donations that accounted for $1,491 of the total sum. In attendance at the meeting were members of the Jamestown Schools PROMISE Fund and those who helped curate the donations.
The fund was created to provide support to the district’s academics, arts and athletics programs. Lillian Ney, coordinator of the musical instrument drive, said the focus of the organization will be on athletics next. The fund has already helped create and fund a summer literacy program in Jamestown and has now contributed the music program.
In other news, Superintendent Bret Apthorpe discussed the district’s upcoming “budget season” and compared Jamestown’s situation with two other districts in the state. Apthorpe used a suburb school from Erie County and one from Monroe County, both of which have similar budgets of about $90 million. The purpose of Apthorpe’s budget discussion was to highlight how dependent the district is on New York state aid when compared to the other two districts.
Jamestown’s budget is comprised of 68 percent of state aid. The Erie County school and the Monroe County school budgets are made up of 25 percent and 27 percent state aid, respectively. The other two districts rely predominantly on money raised from property taxes.
“Because of our dependence on state aid, we are particularly vulnerable,”Apthorpe said.
When compared to the other schools, Apthorpe said Jamestown benefits the least, financially, when incorporating a one percent or a two percent tax levy increase. Additionally, he said Jamestown is most at risk when dealing with a one percent or two percent state aid decrease. According to Apthorpe’s numbers, Jamestown would lose $1,224,000 with a two percent state aid decrease while the other two districts would lose less than $500,000.
“Who is most at risk for program elimination and tax increases?” Apthorpe asked. “We are.”
Apthorpe additionally discussed his recent trip to Columbus, Indiana in association with Cummins Engine. Among a group of five people, Apthorpe visited the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. headquarters and specifically a high school called Columbus Signature Academy New Tech High School. The purpose of the visit was to observe how local employers and a local school district work together to create a curriculum that is accredited by employers.
“What we saw in this new tech high school was a partnership between the school district and the local businesses,” Apthorpe said.
The instruction at CSA New Tech High School is project based, according to Apthorpe. The projects are accredited by the local employers in that area.
“The whole construct of their high school is that the programs, tangibly, lead to employment or to college,” he said.
Apthorpe said the partnerships are managed by a coalition of community groups similar to the Chautauqua County Education Coalition. The superintendent hopes Cummins Engine, among other employers, and local community members can facilitate a similar program in Jamestown in the future.
Prior to the meeting, Lincoln students introduced their school and performed a song for the board members. The board will visit Ring Elementary next for a scheduled meeting in January.