Apthorpe Takes Oath, Hears Public Comments

New Jamestown Public Schools District superintendent Bret Apthorpe took his oath at his first board of education meeting on Tuesday night. Pictured, from left, is Board President Paul Abbott and Apthorpe. P-J photo by Katrina Fuller

Superintendent Bret Apthorpe took his oath at Tuesday’s Jamestown Public Schools Board of Education meeting.

Witnessing Apthorpe’s words were a crowd of parents concerned about college-level courses at the Jamestown High School. A number of parents stood to address him and the board of education members about a music theory course that has been discontinued and a history course that students taking two music classes can no longer take due to scheduling conflicts. In previous years, the parents said students had been able to forego their lunch period to take the college-level high school course and asked for the same consideration for this year’s students.

Likewise, Amy Melquist, a district parent, said her daughter, a 10th grader, was looking forward to attending the music theory class at the high school all summer. However, when the school year started, she was very disappointed because it was no longer being offered. Melquist said it is important the the high-achieving students be given opportunities to continue to strive for the best as well.

After the public comment period, the board approved a resolution that there will be a public auction of the Crescent Street Warehouse property that will then be followed by a special school district vote which will be held on Oct. 30. The vote will be held in order to approve the sale before it has been finalized.

Apthorpe said he has greatly enjoyed the first week of school.

“I’ve been just thrilled meeting the parents at Jamestown,” he said after the meeting. “There’s just something magical about the first week of school.”

Apthorpe said one thing that sets the district apart is the beautiful facilities in the Jamestown district. He said it is evident that the community supported the capital projects over the past several years.

When it comes to the number of people who attended the meeting to speak about the scheduling conflict, Apthorpe said he was heartened to see so many parents there advocating for their kids.

“In my experience, I can’t think of any school district that does not have any scheduling issues the first week of school on all levels,” he said. “Kids who don’t come back to school, kids that have extra requests. This was a good problem to have tonight – you have a group of parents advocating for their kids to take advantage of more college-level courses that we have available, and we’ll work to make that happen.”

Apthorpe also commented on the Crescent Street Warehouse auction.

“It’s no secret that student enrollment has declined all across Western New York,” he said. “In this district, we have an empty school building in the Roger’s building and the Crescent Street Warehouse is a warehouse that has really gone unused for quite a long time. The board was interested, thinking it would be in the community’s best interest to get that back on the tax rolls instead of sitting their idly and getting into disrepair.”

Apthorpe said the auction will be held first and the vote will be held after to vote on the sale itself.

“The regulatory complexities of whenever you sell a public piece of property cause the district to adopt resolutions that would put this up for auction Oct. 14, and then the vote on Oct. 30 would be to approve that sale at that auction,” he said.