May 23, 2022

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After nearly 33 years as a dentist, Dr. Todd E. Shatkin believes in the value of dental education, and the need for more dentists, especially in places like Erie County.

That is why he started a dental residency program four years ago, in partnership with New York University. And it is why he has proposed starting a new graduate dental school that would operate as part of Daemen University, to train as many as 120 new students each year in Amherst through a three-year program.

“This is kind of my passion, educating future dentists of America,” said Shatkin, whose son graduates this month from Tufts University’s dental school.

But his $7.85 million project to create his Shatkin College of Dentistry alongside his existing Amherst businesses – a dental practice, dental training and dental implant manufacturing – is drawing criticism over the unusual structure of the relationship with Daemen, and his bid for nearly $400,000 in sales tax breaks from the Amherst Industrial Development Agency.

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That’s because instead of donating significant money to Daemen – and getting naming rights so the university can construct and launch a school – Shatkin will invest directly in the buildings and equipment, which he will own or control. Effectively, he is acting as a real estate developer and landlord for Daemen, which will rent space from the dentist for 20 years for the new school and a separate institute focused on helping patients with mobility challenges.







Daemen University is planning to add a school of dentistry, working with Dr. Todd Shatkin.




“He stands to recoup his investment over time, as the school goes on and the lease payments come in,” said Daemen President Gary A. Olson. “It’s not a donation. It’s a business arrangement.”


Daemen University to add dental college to its health care programs

Amherst dentist Dr. Todd Shatkin of Shatkin Dental Health is partnering with the university to construct the Shatkin College of Dentistry in part of the Phillips Brothers Supply building on Kensington Avenue, close to Shatkin’s Amherst dental facilities and the town’s growing “Medical Spine” along I-290.

The structure of the deal is at the crux of the issue. The project isn’t eligible for tax breaks under the countywide IDA policy and would need an exception from the Amherst IDA to get them. Other IDA board members are questioning the need for the project – which is outside of their role as board members – and whether the tax breaks are essential.

Had the project been structured around a donation, Daemen would not have needed to go to the IDA for tax breaks and would only have required town approval.

Shatkin will use vacant space in a building he owns at 2500 Kensington Ave. – which was redeveloped with the help of $992,000 in IDA tax breaks five years ago – and will also lease the nearby Philipps Brothers Supply Co.

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On a 4-1 vote, the board decided Monday, Oct. 25, to discontinue benefits for those newly elected or appointed to the board, while members currently enrolled in benefits will retain coverage through 2022.

Tom Haglin voted against the measure, worrying about discouraging potential quality board candidates who might need the benefits.

“If I were to hazard a guess on our school district in terms of people that have access to health insurance, it’s probably not a super high number based on what we know about our own students from an income and socioeconomic perspective,” Haglin said.

Charles Black Lance, however, said health and dental benefits for school board members are not something needed in this day and age, and he would rather see as much money as possible be kept in the classrooms. Since beginning to serve on the board in 2019, Black Lance has been vocal about reducing board member benefits.

“I think it’s time that we looked at moving forward with a different approach and a different expectation that if somebody is going to become part of the board that they’re here to serve students and not here to get a benefit,” Black Lance said, noting he was not even aware of the benefits when he ran for the school board.

Along with the option of health and dental insurance, board members receive a yearly stipend of $4,200.

Kevin Boyles fell in the middle, understanding concerns from both Haglin and Black Lance but noting the board plans to revisit the benefits package in January, during which time members could discuss an increase in the stipend amount to potentially cover health insurance costs for those who need it.

Board Chair Ruth Nelson agreed, saying board members should be compensated for their time and was on board with discussing alterations to the benefits package in January.

Black Lance said he could not be OK with anything higher than a cost of living increase, again noting any money spent on board members is money taken away from students.

“I have to go home — and not to dramatize this — but look at my three kids and the offerings that they have and the offerings that they don’t have,” Black Lance said. “And I can’t sit by and be OK with us as a board to receive anything more than we get in terms of benefits.”

Nelson and board member Jana Shogren both said they do not see the stipend increasing enough to fully cover health insurance costs.

Everyone except for Haglin voted to get rid of the health and dental benefits.

In other business Monday, the school board:

Authorized new hires: Amber Endres, special education teacher at Riverside Elementary; Stacy Littman and Susan Rioux, districtwide substitute teachers; Leanne Bock, behavior management specialist at Riverside; Destiny Fascone, early childhood and prekindergarten plus program assistant at Nisswa Elementary; Adam Jensen and Gretchen Paysee, athletic officials at Forestview Middle School; Kathryn Roberts, special education paraprofessional at Garfield Elementary; Abbey Rushmeyer, health services secretary

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