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Many Reasons To Be Proud Of Our Area’s Schools

Now that we have grandchildren living with us, “back to school” has again become a part of our lexicon.

I love it, actually, and look forward to those days when I drive our grandkids to school where all cars and school buses are met by the principal and other teachers welcoming them to another day at school.

Our public school systems in Chautauqua County are probably our biggest asset when it comes to recruiting our own children to return to the area. I know that it was a major consideration in our daughter’s and her husband’s decision to come back and raise their kids here. Good public schools are not available in many parts of the country.

Yes, I have complained over the years about having too many school districts in the county. We still have 18 separate school districts in this small county, and they all pay big salaries to superintendents. (In some states, there is one district per county.)

But, it is not so much the administration that makes the school–it is the teachers, principals, support staff and curriculum all combined which makes things work. That is where the “rubber hits the road” so-to-speak. The dedication to excellence and mission that the students see each day from their teachers and mentors rubs off. If you take advantage of a public school education here, you can go on to the finest universities in the country.

I do think that the challenges today for educators is tougher than it was when I was a kid. Families are often not as tight-knit as they used to be. Distractions, like screens and cell phones, are greater. There is a concern for public safety that we didn’t have to face. Teachers have to deal with more social problems that confront their students.

Though school budgets are usually supported by taxpayers, public education is more than just a local effort. While we often complain about taxes in New York state, we wouldn’t be able to provide this quality of public school education without the substantial state aid we receive from Albany. Aid to education is the largest item in the New York state budget. Supporting good education for our children is a part of our community DNA.

Yes, we do live in a snow belt and winters are long. We are not in a growth area where populations are increasing. But, this backwater, “off-the-beaten path” area where we live is still a great place to raise and educate kids.

I worry a bit at this time of year because it can be dark in the morning when school buses are picking up children. Yet, I think that for most residents it gives an awareness that school is open when they see those yellow buses with their lights flashing, and traffic coming to a stop.

It is a good feeling when we are “back to school.” It something that we do pretty well here in Chautauqua County, and we should all feel proud about that.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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