Two Southern Tier school districts have been given the green light to go ahead with a study looking into a possible merger. Our Elyse Mickalonis tells us who's involved and why district officials think merging might be the best way to a financially secure future.
BROOME COUNTY, N.Y. -- Good news for district leaders in the Town of Chenango this week as they get the okay to start a significant study that could cut costs across the board.
“It’s a complete assessment of Chenango Valley and a complete assessment Chenango Forks and seeing where there could be some potential,” said David Gill, Chenango Valley CSD Interim Superintendent.
For years there’s been talking about studying the feasibility of merging the Chenango Forks and Chenango Valley School Districts. Both received word this week from the governor’s office that $45,000 was on its way to fund that research.
“We were very, very happy we finally got the news. We’ve been calling every month to see when the grant would come through. It’s a pretty big deal,” said Joe Peck, Chenango Forks CSD Superintendent.
The superintendents are looking for ways to ease taxpayer woes and help students and teachers who are seeing programs and jobs being cut.
“All of the taxes and regulations we have to live with are really putting the squeeze on the homeowners and you start looking for cost savings,” said Gill.
Officials say despite this being a two district effort, in the end, it's important to remember that the public will have the final say.
"We're going to have the study and it’s going to be done by two independent firms. It’s going to be paid for by the grant, but it’s going to be up to the community to really decide what’s best for both districts and I think that’s the key,” said Peck. “It’s not going to be decided by the Valley school or Forks school. It’s going to be decided by the parents and the taxpayers in those two districts and I think that’s key."
The study is expected to be completed by next spring.
Once the study is complete, any potential proposed merger would go to a public vote later in the year. If the two districts consolidate, re-organization efforts wouldn't even begin until the summer of 2014.