Lots to gain in merger

I have one last letter before the consolidation vote between the Westfield and Brocton Central Schools on Wednesday.

On Oct. 2, both districts’ residents were invited to the last public informational session where once again we heard and saw approximately 60 PowerPoint slides based upon an extensive six-month study of the two districts.

The focus question to be answered at the conclusion of this study was “Will creating a new school district through centralization enhance or maintain educational opportunities and at the same time increase long-term efficiencies and lower costs for the taxpayers of both the Brocton Central School District and the Westfield Academy and Central School District?”

The study team answered this focus question in their first of 23 recommendations. That of “the Brocton Central School District and the Westfield Academy and Central School District would benefit from a merger, and that the Boards of Education, the State Education Department and its Commissioner, as well as the residents, approve a merger option.”

It is now clear after over seven public informational sessions that merging the two districts will indeed maintain and enhance educational opportunities for all students at the same time lower tax rates and add efficiencies to the operation of the new district. As I reflect back on the informational sessions, I feel they can be summarized in four main slides:

Slide 1: More than $25 million of new state aid over the next 14 years with $2,612,000 coming the first five years of the consolidation.

Slide 2: A richer educational program for all students including remediation, enrichment classes, electives and greater extracurricular opportunities for all.

Slide 3: Reduced taxes in both districts with stabilization of property taxes for years to come by using 40 percent of the incentive aid to be put toward the local tax levy.

Slide 4: For Westfield to be able to see an increase from 90.7 percent building aid ratio to 97.9 percent for at least the next 10 years of the new district and to reduce existing debt by the higher percent.

To me, these are the four critical issues that voters need to know. The fifth element is the need to look to the future electing a very dedicated team of Board of Education members for this new district. It is of utmost importance that if the merger vote passes, that the new 77-square-mile district finds quality, dedicated and sincere people to run for this new Board of Education.

Please be an informed voter on Wednesday between the hours of noon and 8 p.m.

It has been my pleasure to serve on the study team.

Larry McFadden is a Portland resident.