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City School Board Approves Safety Plan, Small Cities Lawsuit

Jamestown Public Schools District has a new safety plan for the 2021-2022 school year.

The board approved the plan at Tuesday night’s meeting. Brad Meyers, School Safety advisor, said the plan is like an “umbrella that extends over the building-level safety plans which are confidential plans.” He said the plan “ties all the building-level safety plans together.”

“We really didn’t have any real loose ends that we needed to go and tighten up,” he said. “It was a pretty good plan going in. We just had … a few minor changes to make.”

Meyers said building level plans include things like evacuation plans, shelter-in-place plans, lockdown plans, and other similar areas. The plans include specific instructions that pertain to each situation, which is why the confidentiality of those plans is imperative, he said.

“Then, the district level plan kind of gives direction on how those plans are going to be implemented and actually created,” he said. “The meat and potatoes of the plan were in place already. This is something that we have to make adjustments to – the state frequently wants you to add elements like mental health components or something like that. When we add those pieces, we then put the plan forward again. The nuts and bolts were there, we just had to add to it.”

In other news, the board also voted to continue their participation in the Small City Schools Lawsuit. The resolution stated the district will plaintiffs in the case through “payment of litigation dues as set by the New York State Association of Small City School Districts (NYSASCSD) Litigation Steering Committee in the amount of $10,000.”

The lawsuit was filed by 80 parents and students from eight small city school districts in 2008 and contends the state has failed to fund the 2007 Foundation Aid Formula, which was designed and intended to provide districts statewide, including the eight small cities districts, with the funding required to deliver essential resources and improve outcomes for all students. The Foundation Aid Formula was created after the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit was successful in New York City. The eight small city districts involved are Jamestown, Poughkeepsie, Port Jervis, Utica, Niagara Falls, Mount Vernon, Kingston and Newburgh.

In regards to Jamestown, the Appellate Court recently ruled that budget constraints did not allow Jamestown to hire enough social workers, recommending a student ratio of one social worker for every 250 students for general education students and one social worker for every 50 children with higher needs. When the Small Cities case was being tried, Jamestown had no social workers employed after eliminating 80 teaching positions in the years leading up to the 2010-11 school year.

Superintendent Kevin Whitaker said the district, along with the other plaintiffs, are “awaiting whatever action the legislature decided that they’re going to take.” He said at this time, they can’t predict what that decision will consist of.

Board Member Nina Karbacka and prior president of the NYSASCSD, said the state did not appeal the recent decision, and since the change in the governorship, the state has again passed up the opportunity to appeal the decision.

“I don’t think they’ll be anything that will follow this, and we should be getting hopefully more money,” Karbacka said. “Now the question is how do they resolve this, that we don’t have enough money.”

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