Local School Districts Consider Merging

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It would be a bold move that could save some struggling schools in the north country. Hermon-Dekalb, Heuvelton, and Morristown are exploring merging high schools together.

Three schools, one district. A 'regional school'.

"We have determined that right now we need to do a study to determine whether or not what we're doing is cost effective," explained Hermon-Dekalb superintendent Ann Adams.

The districts are looking at combining grades 9 through 12, but plans could change to include more grades.

The concept of the regional school actually comes from a recent BOCES study. It explored ways school districts could save and survive. one solution - merging multiple schools.

"It looked at what kinds of things we could do to help offer more for our students and also to be cost effective," Admas said.

New York law only allows for two districts to merge, so a change in legislation would be needed to move forward.

"Right now, there is not any kind of aid for regional high schools," Adams said.

But officials tell us, while meeting a budget is difficult now, it's nothing new for schools. 

"There have been other states in the past that have had major budget problems. I left Michigan in the early '80s when there were schools actually closing before the ned of the school year," Adams said.

Merging schools would be a major change students, and that's a concern for school officials. They want to find a way to save money, without affecting students' learning.

"Look at not only how much you're saving fiscally, but whether or not it is something that will provide extra services for the students," Adams said.

The next step for school officials will be to conduct a more detailed study to determine if merging would actually work. Hermon-Dekalb superintendent Ann Adams hopes to move forward on that soon, but stresses its still early in the process.
 

Sunday, October 26, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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