Close facility in Cassadaga

When it comes to education, Fredonia Central Schools’ decision of three years ago affirms it is never about bricks and mortar.

Despite the magic of youngsters playing, learning and growing that took place for years in the facility, keeping Wheelock Primary School open was becoming too expensive for taxpayers. Board of Education members decided in 2010 it was best to save about $600,000 annually in its budget and relocate those pupils attending kindergarten to second grade to its main campus off Main Street.

And while there may be sentiment from some wishing Wheelock was still in use, many in the district have moved on, understanding that all school districts have been overbuilt in this county for their current enrollments.

Cassadaga Valley’s Board of Education is facing a similar dilemma this year as it weighs closing its Cassadaga Elementary School, which currently has an enrollment of only 95 pupils. A key argument in the potential closing of this building has to do with the loss of jobs.

Not helping matters any is the Village Board butting in regarding the issue. On emotions alone, the board is endorsing keeping the building open.

But emotions – as we have seen for decades in this county – drive poor financial decisions. It is why we have 62 entities of governments and schools in a county where the population is quickly falling below 134,000 residents.

According to district officials, closing the building could bring a savings of $387,000 for next year. Unfortunately, those reductions also mean the elimination of positions.

Schools – and government for that matter – were not created to preserve jobs. The entities were created to provide services and an environment for learning – something that will continue in Cassadaga Valley no matter where the children go to school.

All area districts are facing tremendous financial pressure over the next and future years. Some are even nearing the point of being out of money.

If Cassadaga Valley can save money – and educational programs in the process – by closing Cassadaga Elementary School, then that is the choice that must be made.

Ripley Central School voters were correct in their vote last week to tuition students in grades seven to 12. The priority is for learning opportunities the students receive, not what roof they come under.

Keeping the Cassadaga elementary building open has nothing to do with learning. It is, for those attached, about trying to keep a tradition alive – a tradition that now numbers fewer than 100 pupils.