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Cheektowaga Central School District officials have approved a new method of handling children who are punished with short-term suspensions for fighting or other infractions.

During its meeting Tuesday night, the School Board voted to establish the After School Alternative Program at the middle and high school buildings rather than sending students to the alternative program at the Pine Hill Education Center or requiring students to stay home.

Under the new system, fifth- to 12th-graders who are suspended from three to five days will return to their home schools at 2:30 p.m. and be required to stay for two hours at the middle school and three hours at the high school. Transportation will be provided, officials said.

Assistant Superintendent Mary Morris said that the new plan offers several advantages, including a cost savings of about $10,000 for the year because a staffer would no longer be required every day at Pine Hill to cover suspensions. In the worst-case scenario, the cost of having a teacher staffing the program would be $8,400 at the middle school and $12,000 at the high school.

“We’d have to have a kid suspended every day,” Morris said of reaching those figures.

Morris added that the after-school program is more favorable than having the students stay home, and the suspended students’ teachers can more easily keep contact with students to ensure work is being completed.

Also during the meeting, the board accepted the resignation of high school Principal Susan Cain, who is retiring effective Jan. 30. She has been employed with the district since September 1997.

Upon request for the motion, an emotional board member Renee Wilson responded, “I will make that motion with regret.” After the meeting, Wilson explained that Cain began as a teacher at Pine Hill when Wilson’s son was in elementary school. With her son graduating from the high school this year, Wilson is sad that Cain is leaving before her son walks across the stage.

“I think she does a fantastic job,” Wilson said.

The board’s next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 15 in the Pine Hill Education Center, 1635 E. Delavan Ave.