Jamestown city school leader on breaking the cycle of poverty

Jan 2, 2018

High poverty surrounds the Jamestown Public School District.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley talked with the city schools superintendent about offering students a chance to be lifted out of poverty.  

"You know what we are seeing is the cycle of poverty – kids growing up in poverty,” said Superintendent Bret Apthorpe

Jamestown Public School District.
Credit Photo from the Jamestown Public School District website

Apthorpe said a little more than 70-percent of Jamestown students live in poverty.  The school District serves 5,100 students in pre-K through 12th grades.

Apthorpe tells WBFO News students living in poverty remains a major challenge.

“How do we successfully intervene and break the cycle of poverty and that's more than just teaching kids how to read and write. It’s also teaching kids financial literacy. It’s teaching them the values of hard work. It’s teaching them about – any future is possible for them, so it is challenging because it is also something that you just can't throw a switch at and make better,” Apthorpe explained. 

Apthorpe noted in other parts of the country some districts provide “year round education experiences" for children at younger ages to successfully break the poverty cycle. It's a model he said they're considering.  

Jamestown Public School District.
Credit Photo from the Jamestown Public School District website

Apthorpe is anxiously awaiting to see how an appealed case will be reopened that declares there's a relationship between school funding and student achievement. Jamestown is one of the small city school districts in a long-time legal battle for more state aid.

“The lower court saying they have to hear this case. This case has credibility. There is a relationship between school funding and student achievement, so now we're waiting on the lower court judge to see if they are going to order the state legislature to create a formula that is fir to schools and for Jamestown it’s almost $8-million,” Apthorpe stated.

Jamestown students return from holiday break today and Apthorpe has just completed his first four months as the new leader. He was formerly the superintendent of the Frontier Central School District in Hamburg. But now he's back home. Apthorpe grew up in the Chautauqua County town of Mayville.