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The new superintendent of the Niagara Wheatfield School District said the district’s recent financial woes were a “big shock” to the community.

But Lynn M. Fusco, in a letter introducing herself to the district, said that the community also knows “what our reality is.”

Fusco, the former Alden District superintendent, stepped into the top spot in Niagara Wheatfield in April after a year-long search and just one month before the May 21 budget vote.

The district was facing a budget shortfall, looming cuts and ultimately a defeated budget.

A second budget, reduced by nearly half a million dollars, was approved.

“This has always been a premier district that focuses on kids. It is known for music, arts and academics; always top-notch. If it was good for the students, it was happening here. There is no doubt that we are facing challenging and lean times, but I think this is a community that is willing to work with me to provide programs that we can all be proud of,” Fusco said in her letter to the district.

Fusco noted that she had always wanted to be a teacher. She said she had an older cousin who had Down syndrome and that made her decide to pursue a job in special education.

Her first job was with United Cerebral Palsy, where she worked with a team helping babies and their parents. She then went back to school to pursue her PhD. Fusco taught at Royalton-Hartland Junior-Senior High School, then taught grades 3 to 6 at Pembroke Central School. While she was at Pembroke she moved into administration, then went to East Aurora, where she was director of curriculum instruction and personnel for 10 years. Seven years ago Alden Central Schools hired her as superintendent, a job she held until she was tapped to take over the role in Niagara Wheatfield.

“There comes a time professionally when you are ready for a challenge and this was the right time for me,” Fusco said of her decision to come to Niagara Wheatfield. “I am really looking forward to working with this district and seeing what the community has to say. What do they think are the biggest challenges? What would they like to see happen? I really want to know what this district needs.”

She invited the public to participate in charting the district’s future direction by going to the district’s website where they can fill in a survey and voice their opinion at: www.nwcsd.k12.ny.us/SuptSurvey.

“It is time for some creative problem solving and hard work by everyone. I believe we can make it happen, but we have to do it together,” wrote Fusco.

email: nfischer@buffnews.com