BROCTON - The Brocton and Westfield Boards of Education took another step forward Thursday night by selecting the consulting firm for the centralization study.
Two firms had answered the Request for Proposal (RFP). The boards decided to interview both.
On Aug. 2, the boards, along with BOCES superintendent Dr. David O'Rouke and administrative assistant Cindy Marx, met in Westfield to interview the Western New York Educational Service Council. The team from the firm who would conduct the work are: Marilyn Kurzawa, David Kurzawa, Robert Christmann, and Thomas Schmidt. All but Christmann attended that meeting. Vince Coppola, who works for the firm but who would not be a team member on this study, served as lead presenter.
OBSERVER Photo by Diane R. Chodan
Vince Coppola, representing the Western New York Educational Study Council, addresses a joint meeting of the Brocton and Westfield boards of education on Aug. 2.
On Thursday, the boards met in Brocton to interview Castallo & Silky. Alan Pole and Jessica Cohen attended the interview. Pole was the primary spokesperson.
In both cases, the interview consisted of a series of questions, asked alternately by members of the Brocton and Westfield boards. The questions were developed specifically for this interview, after earlier meetings clarified what was important to both boards.
One area of concern was whether a firm could understand small rural districts. Westfield Board president Jeff Greabell asked each firm "What experience do you have working in small rural school districts?"
Other questions dealt with how the firm saw the roles of the two superintendents, the boards, and the faculties would play in the study.
In their answers to questions posed and in their presentations both firms stressed the job of the consultant was to present the data, not advocate for or against consolidation. Both noted the importance of communicating to the communities involved, employing a variety of means.
Once the interview with Castallo & Silky concluded, the boards went into executive session for approximately an hour.
When the session was reopened to the public, each board resolved to award the RFP to the Western New York Educational Service Council with Robert Christmann, David and Marilyn Kurzawa and Thomas Schmidt, with the assistance of Bren Price, Sr. as consultants at an all inclusive total cost of $35,000. The boards further authorized the group to begin the study.
Both boards passed the resolution unanimously.
Before adjournment, each board president spoke in public about the reason for the selection. Jeff Greabell of Westfield spoke first.
"It is safe to say that their proximity with us and the work that they have done in the area (was the reason for selection). They are personable, knowledgeable, and I have no doubt they will do a good job," he said.
"From my point of view three of the four members of the team live in Chautauqua County. They can identify with us," Brocton president Thomas DeJoe said.
Thomas Schmidt recently retired as superintendent of the Sherman School District. David Kurzawa has served as interim superintendent seven times in area schools, his last being in Silver Creek. Marilyn Kurzawa is a well-known educator as well as a volunteer for the local Habitat for Humanity.
The consultants from Castallo & Silky, while having experience in rural schools, currently live in the Syracuse area.
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