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Iroquois officials praise collaboration efforts

Iroquois school officials are optimistic that recent efforts to put pressure on elected representatives in Albany will pay off when details on the state budget are announced in April.

Rallies, a letter-writing campaign and hard-line stances have all been used in recent weeks in a push to convince lawmakers to restore education funding that was taken away during a state financial crisis in 2009.

A letter-writing campaign launched earlier this month has netted about 400 letters in the Iroquois district, and a rally held on school grounds Wednesday morning was well attended.

In addition, officials were pleased with the turnout for a similar rally hosted by the West Seneca school district on March 12.

School Board president Charles F. Specht credited an advocacy initiative and training session held Feb. 28 for uniting teachers, administrators, School Board members and parents.

“We collaborated with other districts on how to advocate and get the word out,” Specht said. “It was a very good forum, and we started the letter-writing campaign right after that.”

Specht also praised members of the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School Board for taking a hard-line stance against the governor by threatening to stop using student test scores and standardized testing.

While he believes that no one at Kenmore-Tonawanda wants to put the district in financial dire straits, Specht said he believes their timing was deliberate.

“I think they did an admirable job,” Specht said. “They got people talking about it for a few days.”

Superintendent Douglas Scofield said there have been signals that the efforts are paying off.

“There doesn’t seem to be a lot of changes at the Education Department, but we’re still waiting on the Assembly, Senate and governor,” said Scofield.