Six rural school districts hoping to study ways to save money had their hopes for help dashed late last week when they learned their grant application was denied.
The Schoharie, Middleburgh, Cobleskill-Richmondville, Jefferson, Duanesburg and Berne-Knox-Westerlo school districts applied for $100,000 through the state’s Local Government Efficiency program.
The districts sought to hire a consultant to explore options like consolidation or sharing services.
The application itself described the nature of the districts’ need: “Impacted by fall 2011 hurricanes and just two years away from the educational equivalent of bankruptcy, finding ways to provide a sound basic education for students without over-taxing residents is critical for these districts.”
Schoharie Superintendent Brian Sherman said “I think we’re all disappointed.” He hasn’t received feedback yet from the state to learn why the application didn’t make the cut.
Sherman said the tiny rural school districts don’t have assistant superintendents or other staffers with time to do the study internally. “We do not have the time, we don’t have resources to have people go ahead and do these kinds of things.”
He said the district will forge ahead with other ideas to save money.
The Schoharie school has been sharing its fueling station for more than a year with the village and town of Schoharie since they lost their station in the flooding from Tropical Storm Irene.
Sherman said one way for all three to save money might be to develop a shared fueling station or transportation facility or combining mechanics to service vehicles. “These are things a study would have looked at.”
Duanesburg school superintendent Christine Crowley said the grant was one of two on which the district was rejected recently.
“It’s frustrating because we’re all being told we need to share things and do things differently,” Crowley said.
Cobleskill-Richmondville superintendent Lynn Macan said it’s likely the schools will get together and talk among themselves about the possibility of raising enough money to pay for the study.
“The bottom line is that we have to at least think about doing things differently and with all of the things that are on the agenda right now for relatively small school districts that don’t have a plethora of employees, to have an outside entity do a study like that for us makes a ton of sense,” Macan said. “We’ll apply again.”