Westfield, Brocton boards of education modify feasibility study

WESTFIELD – At the first of four public hearings on the feasibility of the consolidation of the Brocton and Westfield districts, Superintendent John Hertlein explained that both boards of education accepted 22 of the recommendations made by the consultants in their nearly 300-page report.

This means that both boards want to go ahead with the next steps in the merger.

However, recommendation 23, which deals with the building use and the organization of grades, was modified. The boards want to start the new district with grades pre-k through 5 housed in the current buildings.

The middle school, grades 6 through 8, would be housed at Westfield while the high school, grades 9 through 12, would be housed in the building in Brocton.

According to Hertlein, the boards were interested in keeping the elementary students closer to their current district. On the other hand, the boards were not interested in constructing a new building, one of the possibilities mentioned in Recommendation 23. The recommendation was a three-step process.

Hertlein explained to those attending the public meeting that the boards have the option of changing the recommendation and the change would allow for much better use of the facilities.

He said, “We are getting more guidance from the team (consultants) to see how that would impact the other part of the results.”

Westfield resident Kathy Probst asked if the recommendations of the report are binding on the new board of education that would be formed if the districts vote to merge.

Hertlein said, “The new board would not be bound to accept the recommendations. … It would be August 1, 2014 before the new board met. That would mean the configuration would most likely be the one proposed, at least initially.”

Hertlein said that a school board could make changes later, just as a school board conducts reviews on a periodic basis. The study is a road map rather than a binding contract.

“Your point is well taken,” he told Probst.

The next public hearings are May 7 at the Brocton auditorium; May 9 at the Westfield auditorium, and May 16 at the Brocton auditorium. The public was urged to attend and bring questions. All meetings begin at 7 p.m.

The feasibility study is available on each district’s website. Westfield superintendent, David Davison, said that the questions raised at each meeting will also be posted to the sites.

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