Ogdensburg District Seeks Change To Allow School Mergers

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Superintendent Tim Vernsey says the Ogdensburg City School District has never been able to be an equal partner when it comes to talk of school mergers.

Vernsey says to be able to even be considered as an option to neighboring schools who could be looking at mergers to stay financially solvent would require a status change.

The only way to do so would be to amend state education law to allow Ogdensburg to operate as if it were a centralized school district.

"It's a detriment to having some discussions about possible mergers with our neighboring school districts," said Vernsey.
 
School officials say while the change isn't expected to have an affect on state aid funding, it would help open the door for possible future merger talks if neighboring schools in Morristown, Heuvelton or Lisbon were even interested.
 
Under current law as a city school district, Ogdensburg isn't able to actually merge with a neighboring school.

Instead, it would have to annex the school into the city school boundaries.
 
"Annexation involves them becoming us, instead of merging the two districts and we become one in that way. Certainly, merger is a much more palatable reorganization," said Vernsey.
 
Legislation has already been introduced by Senator Patty Ritchie (R. - 48th District) that would allow Ogdensburg to make the switch
 
Meanwhile, Vernsey expects to have to dig a little deeper into the district's dwindling fund balance to help bridge a $1.4 million budget gap in a proposed $36.9 million budget for next year.

Ogdensburg has already cut more than a million dollars from next year's spending plan - mostly through attrition from anticipated retirements.
 
Vernsey says depending on how much of an overall aid increase Ogdensburg receives once the state budget is passed by the legislature will impact how next year's school budget is balanced.

Monday, April 21, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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