Community feedback forums completed, three options deemed viable
Tough choices are ahead for Schalmont Central School District and there is no easy solution in the district's effort to cut expenses, with school closures becoming an option.
Residents of the Schalmont District expressed varying opinions in the several community forums held to get public input on an efficiency study completed by Advisory Solutions, a consultant group created by the New York State School Boards Association. Out of the scenarios provided by the study, A to "F," the community decided three of the solutions were viable to achieve true and meaningful savings.
"There is a general consensus that the taxes are too high and that the district needs to continue to try to find efficient ways to provide programs there was certainly different points of view on how we might do that," said Superintendent Valerie Kelsey. "The community has been wonderful sharing the benefits and negatives of different scenarios."
Scenarios D, E and F were all considered to be viable, but each option also entails the closing of one or both of the district's smaller schools, which are Mariaville and Woestina. The selected option will be announced at the Board of Education meeting on Monday, Feb. 14, at the Schalmont Middle School.
"We went through a lot of meetings with the community, and I am encouraged based upon the turnout at our community forums, how informed people are or have been or how much information they had gathered," said Kevin Thompson, president of the BOE. "I think a lot of people realize something needs to change within our district, because the impact of a potential high tax rate does not seem to have a large support from residents."
While Thompson said the board hasn't selected an option yet, closing a school would only be a part of the overall plan moving forward with next year's budget. The board is waiting to make a final decision until Gov. Andrew Cuomo releases his budget, which is estimated to be revealed in the coming weeks.