Schools to take a look at working together

With their tax bases thrown into uncertainty by recent flooding and the new tax cap hanging over the

With their tax bases thrown into uncertainty by recent flooding and the new tax cap hanging over their heads, school leaders in Middleburgh and Schoharie plan to learn what they can about sharing services and consolidation.

The two districts’ boards of education met this week and set plans in motion to explore ways to save money.

Any talk about a merger among the districts is preliminary at best, but the school boards are at the point where they hope to learn about the various possibilities from the Capital Region Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

The districts are facing four primary issues, according to Middleburgh Superintendent Michele R. Weaver.

There’s a demand for higher educational standards and changes in state funding for local schools.

The state’s 2 percent cap on property tax increases complicates already-difficult budgeting, and in Middleburgh and Schoharie, the amount of tax money that will come in is unclear because various structures no longer exist, thanks to Tropical Storm Irene.

“Certainly, we need to have dialogue,” Weaver said Friday.

The two districts held a joint meeting Wednesday and decided to call for a workshop session focused on how districts ask for a study on shared services or studies on consolidation and mergers, Schoharie schools Superintendent Brian Sherman said in an email Friday.

Details sought include available resources through BOCES and the state, pitfalls of the process, history of such studies in the region, public participation and available options.

The workshop would also provide a means for the districts “to find creative solutions to shared problems,” Sherman said.

“The outcome of the meeting is not intended to begin the merger process anywhere, only to educate the boards so that they are aware of their options as we look to a very uncertain future for education in the state of New York,” he said.

Wednesday’s meeting provided a forum for brainstorming on ways to share services.

Ideas voiced towards that goal include looking at sharing a buildings and grounds supervisor and sharing plowing and mowing equipment and other gear like tractors and trucks, according to unofficial meeting minutes.

The workshop is not yet scheduled.

Weaver said she hopes to include other neighboring districts in the discussion, including Duanesburg and Cobleskill-Richmondville.

Categories: Schenectady County

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