Williamsville superintendent defends himself after criticism over reopening plan

Local News

AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) – Dr. Scott Martzloff, the superintendent of the Williamsville Central School District, says calls for his resignation are “ridiculous” as parents and teachers have expressed concern over the district’s reopening plan.

Under the plan, parents would decide whether their child would receive a hybrid model of instruction, with the student going to school some days and learning from remotely from home others, or a 100% remote model. Parents have until Wednesday to make that decision, though Martzloff made it clear Monday that they could later change their minds.

However, some parents have told News 4 they’ve felt left in the dark as the district has developed this plan.

“I moved here for this education. I don’t appreciate how this was kind of thrown together,” Jim Sikorski, a parent in the district, told News 4 last week.

Some protesters last week even called for Martzloff’s resignation. On Monday, he defended himself and his plan.

“Maybe that’s their perception, but it’s certainly not the intent of the district for anyone to be left in the dark,” he responded. “Just because we’re finalizing a plan and making certain adjustments to the plan doesn’t mean we’re trying to withhold that from parents.”

“I tried to check with people who lived through the last pandemic, but I couldn’t find anyone to see how we could do it better,” he added.

Martzloff admitted changes to the plan have been made, but only after listening to feedback. He warned, although a final plan was expected later Monday or Tuesday, it could change before the first day of school on September 8th.

“We’re going to give parents as much of a set in stone plan as we can now,” Martzloff said. “But they have to understand that the only change that could happen from that is if we don’t have enough teachers in our classroom on the first day of school. If that happens or there is a huge uptick in infection rate across Western New York, that would drive not coming back to school.”

Teachers have also been critical of the plan. On Friday, the Williamsville Teachers’ Association released the results of a survey conducted my members. Seventy-eight percent of members said they don’t feel the plan adequately addresses safety, while 90% didn’t think it gave students the best educational opportunities.

“Waiting until late July and holding three meetings is not the best way to form a comprehensive plan,” WTA members said in a statement. “Do what should have been done at the beginning. Ask students and families what they need to be successful this year. Ask educators and administrators the best way to make that happen. Ask mental health staff what other supports are needed. And most importantly, ask custodians, aides, food service staff, and administrators how we can make that happen safely.”

Martzloff said the district has enough masks to provide staff and students. He also said they have enough hand sanitizer.

Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2017. See more of his work here.

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