Three schools to study sharing
ROSCOE, NY — On October 24, the boards of education for the Downsville, Livingston Manor and Roscoe Central School Districts met with John Evans, superintendent of all three districts, at Roscoe Central School to begin the process of studying cost savings through the sharing of common services and programs. The three boards are seeking to find creative, efficient ways to cut costs through sharing services so that the savings can be used to provide increased opportunities for students.
Evans outlined the need to study shared local services, saying, “Three circumstances have come together to force small, rural school districts in New York state to look at cost savings through sharing: significant decreases in student enrollment throughout upstate New York; the capping of state education aid in a time of increasing fixed costs, such as utilities, health insurance, retirement contributions, salaries, etc.; increasing academic standards by the state and federal governments and increasing expectations of parents for broader academic and extracurricular opportunities for students.”
Evans said, “This perfect storm of circumstances means schools must find ways to shift money from one area (shares) and use the savings to fund needed new opportunities for students.”
To begin this initiative, the three school districts have applied for a local government efficiency grant to help defray the costs of determining what services and programs among the districts should be studied and then covering the costs of the actual studies. The districts have also engaged a consultant, Gray Stevens, a retired superintendent who now provides interim and consulting services to small, rural school districts. Stevens will facilitate the study. He emphasized the need for transparency to school personnel and the three communities throughout the study process. Both Stevens and Evans stressed that this is a study regarding the sharing of common services and programs. They both strongly stated that this effort is not a merger study and has nothing at all to do with consolidating or merging schools.
Stevens described, as a first step, the need to establish a committee of representatives from each of the three school districts to begin the process of identifying services and programs to study for possible sharing. The committee will meet for the first time on Tuesday, November 14 at 6 p.m. in the Downsville Central School. Each school will initially be represented by a board member, a principal, a business official, a teacher, a parent, a student and a community member. As areas to be studied are identified, representatives of those areas will be invited to meet with the committee. Meetings will be open to the public and minutes of all meetings will be provided to the public. Anyone interested in serving on this joint committee is asked to contact the superintendent’s office in their respective school district.