Representatives of the Mayville, Chautauqua and Dewittville volunteer fire departments braved snowy weather to attend a recent Chautauqua Lake School District meeting.
Burl Swanson, a long-term member of the Dewittville Fire Department, was spokesman for the group. Their purpose was to urge the full participation of the school district in the Safety Village program sponsored by the fire departments. Swanson is an instructor in the program and spoke with great enthusiasm about the impact he feels the program has on participating children.
The Safety Village program is offered at two levels - pre-kindergarten through second grade, as well as third and fourth grade. The program for the early learners covers poison safety, pedestrian safety and fire emergency situations. The program uses active participation to teach the children. A favorite part of the traffic safety portion has the children riding through the village in electric cars to learn to properly respond to traffic signals. They also learn what to do in a simulated home fire emergency, and they practice crawling to safety and using an escape ladder. Older children cover some of these same areas but concentrate especially on bicycle safety.
Superintendent Ben Spitzer said that some of the classes at Chautauqua Lake have attended the program in certain years; Swanson feels strongly that the lessons need to be taught to all children and repeated each year. He feels that the program's use of active learning and reinforcement of the ideas taught through annual repetition can be lifesaving for the kids.
Spitzer pointed out that he would gladly support sending all eligible students to the program each year, but this is a board decision, and they are hindered by budget considerations and time constraints. According to Swanson it would cost the district just over $2,700 to send all eligible children to the program.
Another impediment to full participation pointed out by Spitzer is that of scheduling constraints. Teachers are now evaluated by the performance of their students, which increases the value of classroom time, particularly toward year end.
According to Spitzer, this pressure for testing and covering of additional material has been increased with the recent adoption of the Common Core Curriculum.
The board will take up the question of the level of participation in the Safety Village program in its planning meetings for next year's budget.
In other business, the board added to the substitute teacher list, approved some policy provisions and accepted the Tax Collector's Report, which listed tax revenues from the communities served by the district totaling $10,797,157 after reimbursement of STAR funds.
The board will meet Wednesday and will hold a board retreat on the following day.