Restaino: Goals Include Increased Outcomes for African and Hispanic Young Men Aft

by Robert Restaino

In my first term as a member of the Niagara falls School Board I have had the opportunity to work with some tremendously talented and dedicated administrators, teachers and staff, who, along with my fellow board members are committed to providing the best learning environment for our students.

During this term we approved and have recently accomplished the completion of our award winning “Inventing Tomorrow” capital project that delivered necessary renovations to every school building, provided STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Math) classrooms in every school – increasing our ability to provide 21st century  education to our children in an increasingly technology driven world, created a world class sports complex for our student athletes and, as a by-product of our project, generated nearly 400,000 labor hours for our skilled trades and labor unions – totaling nearly $38 million in labor wages and an additional $26 million in local business support. All of this being accomplished without imposing any increase on local property taxpayers!!

During my first term we instituted our Early College Program, giving first time college students in a family the opportunity to earn college credits while in high school, helping to reduce the cost of college education for families while allowing our students to fulfill their dream of a college degree. Additionally, I am proud to have been a part of the expansion of our Pre-K program to include a separate program for 3 year olds, giving parents and teachers the ability to begin the education of the child earlier so as to maximize the opportunity for the child to reach his/her potential.

Financially, I have worked with other board members and the administrative staff, to keep the cost of our programs affordable for our property taxpayers. From restructuring staff to reviewing and refinancing our bonds to lower interest rates, I have worked to keep expenses down. As a member of the board I have been committed to keeping our programs affordable, looking for partners in the community, and at other levels of government, to help share the costs where permissible.

For the coming term my goals include working to increase outcomes for African-American and Hispanic young men in our district – as statistically this segment of the student population lags behind all others. It is my hope to capitalize on a conversation I began in late 2014 with others in NYS to advance the program initiated by the federal government titled “My Brother’s Keeper”. It is a program focused on family and community engagement, professional development and mentoring aimed at closing the persistent gap in educational achievement and opportunity in this segment of the student population. I am happy to say that after more than a year of fighting this program is now funded in the current NYS budget.

Our school district provides a sizeable share of the funding to the county BOCES program and I am proposing that we examine the delivery of some of the available vocational training courses here in Niagara Falls. I intend to work with our BOCES representative to push for this item so as to increase our students’ opportunities and expand on the great successes already achieved through the BOCES program.

Through my service as an attorney for children in our city, a community volunteer and a lifelong resident of Niagara Falls who grew up in Packard Court to become the first attorney in our family, I believe that my energy, focus and purpose are committed to Niagara Falls and the achievement of our school district mission: Learning For All…Whatever It Takes. On Tuesday, May 17th I would ask for your vote, to help me continue working for you and for the children of our community. Thank you for your support.

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