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Ken-Ton schools at ‘turning point,’ superintendent says

The Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District is now a district of nine schools, down from 12 last year, and a week into the new school year, officials say they’re encouraged.

“This is a turning point for our district,” Superintendent Dawn F. Mirand said Tuesday during the School Board’s regular meeting. “After four years of meticulous planning and implementation, we can actually say consolidation is behind us.”

Kenmore Middle and Roosevelt and Hamilton Elementary schools were closed in June as enrollment declined and savings were sought. Those closings set off a cascading number of other changes.

Grade configurations were changed to move fifth grade to the middle schools and eighth grade to the district’s two high schools. Attendance boundaries were altered; building assignments for over 220 teachers changed; and the district implemented new start and end times.

In addition, the district expanded school bus eligibility, made programming changes and initiated phase two of its capital construction project.

“It’s hard to imagine there are school districts that have experienced more change in such a short period of time as Ken-Ton has,” Mirand said.

Still, for a second straight year, Ken-Ton has been beset early on by transportation challenges.

Earlier in Tuesday’s meeting, one parent told the board that his daughter’s bus has been up to 45 minutes late. He received no answers from the transportation office.

Mirand acknowledged the issues, but promised that transportation officials are working on resolving them.

“Considering all that has changed as a result of the expanded eligibility and consolidation, the issues have been actually relatively minor in comparison to last year from what they could have been without such extended planning,” Mirand said.

She credited successful implementation of consolidation to the district’s staff, including Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Stephen A. Bovino, who retires Sept. 30 after 9½ years in the role.

Mirand said Bovino helped the district “weather many storms,” including declining enrollment, school closures and changes to federal and state education policy.

“Perhaps most challenging of all was the many years he endured of the devastating budget cuts in Ken-Ton,” she said.

Bovino previously served as a teacher and administrator in the Williamsville Central School District, and as principal of John F. Kennedy High School in Cheektowaga.

Ken-Ton’s director of secondary education, Catherine Huber, takes over for Bovino on Sept. 28.

email: jpopiolkowski@buffnews.com

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