MERGER: Districts have ‘similarities’

Team spirit is evident between Brocton and Westfield. The two communities, with villages separated by only seven miles, are already partners in school athletics. On Wednesday, the communities will decide if they become a true team.

Voting on the proposed Brocton and Westfield school merger at each district is from noon to 8 p.m. In the May straw vote, the combined result was a margin of 976 to 245 – an 80 percent approval rate.

Those unsure of some issues or those who oppose the school merger are nitpicking. They find small pieces in a 300-page document and make them into the big questions. That is their right, but it muddies the waters.

The only issue residents need to consider is the last 10 years: Are your children’s educational opportunities today better than they were in 2003?

With enrollments on the decline, especially in the smaller districts, the answer is “no.” Programs, teachers and extracurricular activities have been reduced. Athletics have been saved through combining teams, a merger if you will.

Wednesday is the time to take the next step. If not, students will be the ones who suffer.

“I’ve been here since second grade and I’ve seen program after program slowly decline,” Westfield student Collin Connolley said during a meeting last week. “I think the voters need to focus most on who this is going to really be affecting, which is the students. It’s not all about how much money you save. People think of Brocton over here and Westfield over there, but we have to think of it as one. Focus on the similarities, not the differences.”

Collin will not be able to vote. But if he could, he would vote for the merger.

He – and the rest of the 1,290 students in both districts – are the region’s future. They need solutions to succeed.

Merging two districts is that solution.