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A collaborative effort to assess the needs of education systems in the BOCES Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus region has received financial support from two local foundations.

The E2CCB Education Foundation recently received $240,000 from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and $20,000 from the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation that will fund a comprehensive needs assessment of eight E2CCB sites and 27 school districts.

“Many individual efforts have been made to identify and meet the needs of students and education systems in Erie, Chautauqua, and Cattaraugus counties, but improving and increasing student graduation rates, professional internships, and the use of educational and training resources continues to be a challenge,” said Dr. David O’Rourke, District Superintendent and General Manager of BOCES Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus. “The goal of this project is to take a holistic approach that goes beyond the scope and size of one school district or organization. We appreciate the investment in public education made by the Wilson and Sheldon Foundations.

Over the next 18 months, data from across the region via surveys and interviews will be collected, analyzed and shared by Via Evaluation, a women-owned company based in Buffalo. Data collection includes surveys of district and E2CCB staff, parents and students, and interviews with members of surrounding communities.

Based on the findings, recommendations will be made for next steps regarding student support, technology, new industry partnerships, and development of new programs or revisions to existing programs for market relevance. The data will be aligned with current regional educational programs at SUNY Jamestown Community College and SUNY Alfred State, as well as current labor market needs.

The project will also help align district and BOCES curricula with career paths. It also opens up long-term opportunities for area school districts to become more competitive in state and federal funding opportunities.

“Districts and E2CCB cannot apply for certain funding opportunities without data from a formal needs assessment,” said Dr. John O’Connor, Assistant Superintendent of Management Services. “This project will eliminate this ineligibility issue and help our component districts better align their resources for student success, career planning, and regional workforce needs.”

A steering committee made up of representatives from across the E2CCB region will help oversee the project. Dr. Robert Anderson, Superintendent of Gowanda Central School, is one of them.

“This needs assessment is a win-win for public education across the region,” Anderson said. “Aligning student outcomes with market relevance is critical to the post-secondary success of our students and our region. Additionally, this needs assessment expands our regional access to state and federal scholarships which, in turn, will further contribute to meeting the needs of all of our students.

Data collection is expected to begin this spring with results expected to be shared by summer 2023

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