Niagara Wheatfield urged to suspend field testing of students - The Buffalo News
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Niagara Wheatfield urged to suspend field testing of students

SANBORN – Niagara Wheatfield School Board President Steve Sabo persuaded the board to suspend and prohibit any further field testing of students this year.

Select classes in Niagara Wheatfield had been chosen to be tested with questions that may be added to future tests. The levels include the elementary, middle and high schools in subject areas such as math and language arts. The field tests are being conducted through the state Education Department by the Pearson education company, it was noted.

Sabo, who said at Wednesday’s meeting that Niagara Wheatfield students have been subjected to enough standardized testing recently, commented that he did not want them to be used as guinea pigs any longer. Several board members agreed that the involvement of the national Pearson company could erode local control of the schools.

However, some cautioned that they did not want their refusal to result in a reduction of state financial aid.

Member Christopher Peters said the district’s financial situation is so tight that it “can’t afford to get slapped” with a financial sanction.

School Superintendent Lynn Fusco said that although the district has an obligation to follow through on the state initiatives, she was not sure if agreeing to field testing is part of it or if the district would receive less aid because of it.

Sabo pointed out that several districts in the Long Island area have already taken a stand against field testing.

Also, the Niagara Wheatfield School Board gave Fusco a two-year contract extension Wednesday.

The board voted unanimously to extend her contract until June 30, 2019. Fusco was hired last year with a four-year pact that was to have ended in 2017.

Sabo said the extension was based on the findings of the evaluation the members conducted recently. Fusco was hired following a long search that began after Carl Militello retired in 2012 in the wake of a financial crisis that resulted in increased taxes, reduced programs, layoffs, and stern admonishments from the State Comptroller’s Office. Fusco is still dealing with the ramifications.

The only change to Fusco’s contract is that she will have the opportunity to continue health insurance coverage through the district upon retirement but will have to pay for the coverage herself, Sabo said.

Originally hired at a salary of $163,000, she was given raises of 1.5 percent in her second year and 2 percent in each of the next two years. Sabo said she will receive 2 percent raises in each of her extension years.

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