For districts in decline, merger provides an opportunity

By LARRY McFADDEN

An important vote will be on Tuesday from noon to 8 p.m. in both Brocton and the Westfield Academy and Central School districts.

I was a member of a very important advisory committee that helped the Western New York Educational Service Council conduct their feasibility study for the purpose of consolidation of the two school districts. The purpose of this study was “to determine if the re-organization (merger) of the two districts would provide enhanced educational opportunities and at the same time, increase efficiencies and lower cost for their overall operations through this re-organization.” At the completion of this six month study, the collected research supported that “both districts would in fact benefit from a merger.”

As a member of the committee and a resident in the Brocton Central School district, I fully support the consolidation of these two schools. The benefits as reported in the study will reduce and stabilize property taxes in both districts and will provide an additional $24,815,000 over the next 14 years. The savings seen in a consolidation and the addition of $24-plus million of incentive aid will provide the much-needed educational resources that will benefit our children in order to compete in this 21st century educational environment. The merger will also help lower and stabilize our already high property taxes in the two districts.

Both districts will continue to see declining enrollments and financial resources in the very near future.

Each district has made serious cuts to programs in order to balance educational programs and maintain a manageable tax increase. There truly is little left to cut and property taxes are already high enough.

I encourage you to use these last few days to obtain honest information on the study and then go to the polls to cast your ballot. Again, as the study indicates – a merged school district will “provide enhanced educational opportunities and at the same time, increase efficiencies and lower operation costs for the two school districts.”

Larry McFadden is a Portland resident.