JAMESTOWN – The new Superintendent of Jamestown Public Schools says he’s enjoying his first few weeks on the job.
JPS Superintendent Dr. Bret Apthorpe took over as superintendent at the start of this month. He’s replacing former Superintendent Tim Mains, who took a position with the Pine Bush School District near the Hudson Valley earlier this year after 4+ years in Jamestown. Interim Superintendent Sylvia Root oversaw administrative duties from March through August while the school board searched for Mains’ eventual replacement.
Although he comes to Jamestown from Frontier School District in Erie County, Apthorpe’s roots are actually in Chautauqua County, where he was raised in Mayville and his first teaching job was at Southwestern Central School. Since then he’s also worked for Honeoye Falls-Lima Central School District, Fairport Central School District, Monroe 1BOCES, and Churchville-Chili Central School District.
Apthorpe said that he’s well aware of the challenges that come with running the county’s largest school district, but he also hopes that he will also be able help bring attention to the many successes and highlights of the district.
“The government has these labels that they put on schools and if you’re not from Chautauqua County or Jamestown and you googled this school district, the districts that have these labels – we’re called a ‘Focus School’ – it gives the perception of these dreary sad places where nothing exciting takes place,” Apthorpe explains, adding, “But I will look forward to the opportunity of bringing in the policy makers that come up with those crazy labels and bring them into our schools, because it’s exciting what’s going on in our schools. They’re safe. The teachers are great with the kids. There’s a lot of upper level courses going on. It’s not surprising to me. It’s fantastic.”
Jamestown is one of the poorest districts not only in Western New York, but all of New York State. As a result, Apthorpe said one of his priorities will be to continue the effort to make the state funding process more equitable for schools like Jamestown.
“I’m convinced that policy makers would like current Western New Yorkers to believe that our current status quo should be our new norm. We should accept what we have and be happy with that, when if you go around the state and see what’s happening, especially with downstate schools – the things they’re able to do with coding, engineering, electronics training – with all these things they are able to do, they get a $1.50 in aid for every $1 we get,” Apthorpe said.
Apthorpe made his comments during an interview earlier this week here on WRFA. The full interview will be broadcast Thursday at 5 p.m. on Community Matters. It will also be rebroadcast at noon on Sunday.