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WACS informed about project to expand after-school library services

December 31, 2015
By David Prenatt ( , Westfield Republican

A pilot project to expand after-school services in the public library system could become a statewide or even nationwide model, Westfield Academy and Central School Board of Education members learned at their Dec. 13 meeting.

Eli Guinnee, director of the Chautauqua/Cattaraugus library systems told board members that the organization was able to obtain E-rate funds in order to provide educational services for students in the Westfield/Brocton area.

The project became possible when state funding rules changed, allowing connections between libraries to be classified as E-ratable. "We were the only people in the state to go to bid the first year," Guinnee said.

Article Photos

Photo by David Prenatt
WACS science teacher Wade Dellow stands behind four of his fifth-grade students who took part in a nutritional project. Displaying the posters from the project are, left to right, Alia Rivera, Haleigh Dellow, Jonathan Corbett and Connor Graham.

"We are the first ones to fully pursue the after school help concept, which could become a pilot project for state and potentially the nation," he added.

Brocton developed the idea of the satellite classroom, asking "What do kids need to do their schoolwork outside of school?" Guinnee said. They identified a need for technology, particularly high-speed broadband, and for materials and furniture, Guinnee added.

The difficulty was in finding the necessary funding, Guinnee told board members. Most of the 36 libraries in the county system have very small operating budgets, often between $35,000 and $40,000 a year.

Because of this, he said, the level of technology in most libraries is very limited. For instance, the average internet speed at Patterson Library was 6 MB. This project has allowed that figure to be increased to 103 MB according to Guinnee.

The county system of libraries has a 90 percent E-rate, Guinnee said, which means that the libraries only have to pay 10 percent of the cost.

In the project, the libraries will remain in contact with teachers, Guinnee said, "so when kids come after school, we are ready to help them."

Guinnee emphasized that the project seems very successful so far. "The director of Patterson Library has reported a huge increase in the number of kids after school," he said.

"It's a win-win-win situation," Guinnee said. "The library gets more reliable internet at a much lower cost, the schools have a great after school resource, and most importantly, the students win."

In another presentation, the board heard from fifth grade science and social studies teacher Wade Dellow and several fifth grade students regarding a nutrition education project they had been working on.

Each of the students in Dellow's fifth grade science class was required to plan a full meal for their family using all of the five food groups.

According to Dellow, the project included making a shopping list, obtaining the food, sharing the meal with the family, creating a poster detailing the meal and presenting the information to the class.

The board also heard from Athletic Director Jake Hitchcock about the shared sports program. Hitchcock's presentation was part of the annual review of the sports program that Westfield shares with Brocton.

Hitchcock said it may be necessary to involve a third district in the collaboration. Currently varsity players often have to practice with junior varsity, Hitchcock said.

"This doesn't benefit anybody," Hitchcock said. "The varsity kids don't get any better and the younger kids get discouraged," he added.

If Westfield involve another district, J.V. players can practice with J.V. players and varsity players can practice with varsity players, he said. "If a third district does get involved, the schools would probably be moved into a higher league," Hitchcock said.

When asked if Westfield and Brocton need to act on this matter this year, Hitchcock replied: "In my opinion, the longer we hold on, our options might dry up."



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