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Lyndonville, Medina school districts recognized for shared services

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 March 2016 at 12:00 am

National magazine for school districts highlights effort to preserve opportunities for students

Photo by Tom Rivers – Lyndonville and Medina students perform Guys and Dolls on March 13 in Lyndonville. Thomas Follman of Lyndonville portrays Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Abel Zavitz of Medina is Nathan Detroit, and Leif Isaacson of Lyndonville plays Benny Southstreet. The Lyndonville-Medina musicals, now in their fifth year of a combined program, have won numerous awards through the Rochester Broadway Theatre League’s “Stars of Tomorrow” program. Follman was also an all-star linebacker for the Medina football team.

Two local school districts facing declining student enrollments and cuts in state funding five years ago decided to try some programs together.

Lyndonville would make its stellar musical program available to Medina students. Medina would open up its football team and state champion marching band to Lyndonville.

The shared services have expanded since then to boys soccer, cross country and track and field teams. A volleyball team was added last year.

The two districts also have run shared staff development including a joint summer leadership conference and staff development featuring national student engagement experts.

The Lyndonville and Medina cooperation has been recognized in a national educational magazine. “District Administration” this month highlighted Lyndonville and Medina as “Districts of Distinction.”

The magazine noted how both districts closed elementary schools due to enrollment drops, and efforts to run more efficient and cost-effective districts.

The shared services have preserved and expanded opportunities for students in both districts, District Administration said in highlighting the joint effort.

“We’re very happy with how it’s gone,” said Jason Smith, the Lyndonville Central School superintendent.

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Steve Anderson, a Lyndonville student, is pictured during the 2014 season when he excelled on Medina’s boys soccer team. He was named a Niagara-Orleans all-star and helped the team capture the league title.

He said students from both districts have welcomed each other. The musicals, for instance, are staged in Lyndonville and include a big cast of 53 Lyndonville and Medina kids, with students from both schools in the lead roles.

The addition of Medina students allows Lyndonville to put on more challenging shows with bigger casts.

“There is a larger talent pool,” Smith said. “The Lyndonville kids really enjoy having the Medina students here.”

Lyndonville students have made Medina’s football and soccer teams stronger, perennial playoff participants since the shared services started.

“This was basically done to offer kids opportunities,” said Jeff Evoy, superintendent at Medina Central School. “We’re always focused on doing what’s best for kids. That’s how we operate.”

The shared services efforts were pushed by former interim superintendents Tom Cox in Lyndonville and Bruce Fraser in Medina. But Smith and Evoy have pushed the effort to new levels.

Those superintendents have known each other for more than 20 years, going back to when they were social studies teachers at Albion.

“There is a huge trust factor for us both,” Smith said. “This has been a really good partnership among the districts.”