The Jefferson Lewis BOCES is asking the public across 18 school districts to participate in a survey exploring the options for shared services, reorganization and/or merging with neighboring school districts.
The School Collaboration Survey is currently posted on every school district’s website.
For Inlet, Old Forge and Forestport those links are
inletcommonschool.org, towschool.org, or adirondackcsd.org, or paper copies can be accessed by calling the district offices at (315) 357-3305 (Inlet) and 369-3222 (Old Forge).
The survey contains 18 questions and, according to the website, should only take five to ten minutes to complete. The links are active now through Friday, October 4th.
Survey questions measure support for sharing services such as transportation, business and food services, administration, and additional BOCES programs that currently include professional development and training.
The survey also asks about support for combining athletic teams, creating a regional high school and entering into conversations exploring consolidation with neighboring school districts.
“The idea of merging and collaboration can elicit angst, but this is just a feeler. It doesn’t mean schools will merge. The survey is to elicit information so we can best serve our taxpayers and our students,” said Chris Holt, superintendent of Inlet Common School.
A letter from Jefferson-Lewis-Hamilton-Herkimer-Oneida BOCES District Superintendent Jay Boak introduced the survey by explaining the difficulties faced the last three years by school districts in the North Country and across the state in funding educational programs for students.
The school districts in the region are some of the poorest in New York state and as a result are highly dependent on state aid, he said.
Declines in state financial aid and loss of funds due to the GAP Elimination Adjustment, reductions in state school aid to support deficit reduction, have, according to Boak, put students at risk as they compete with students from more affluent areas of the state for college admissions, scholarships and/or entry into the work force.
“With that as a backdrop, we have a responsibility to explore every option available to us to become as efficient and cost effective as possible,” Boak said.
Rex Germer, superintendent of Town of Webb Union Free School said that state aid for the Town of Webb School is fairly low as a percentage of the overall budget compared to other districts. But at the same time, we can’t afford to lose it, he said.
Inlet also does not receive much state aid—less than $700 a year out of a $1.3 million budget, however the district is included because it’s a generic survey. According to Holt the results of the survey and any further decisions would effect the Inlet school district.
Germer added that some questions in the survey may not be applicable for us. However, participation in the survey is a collaborative effort with other districts to show that we’re continuing to gauge public response, and looking at how to go forward.
Results of the survey should be available to the public in late spring.