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Guilderland launching district building study

Consultant says study will not to be ‘all about closing schools’

Paul Seversky, a consultant with the planning service at Madison-Oneida BOCES, is conducting a district-wide building capacity study at Guilderland schools. Seversky will seek to find more cost efficient ways for the district to offer programing.

Paul Seversky, a consultant with the planning service at Madison-Oneida BOCES, is conducting a district-wide building capacity study at Guilderland schools. Seversky will seek to find more cost efficient ways for the district to offer programing. Photo by John Purcell.

— The baseline data will include enrollment projections, pupil capacity of the schools, local class size goals, local culture of deploying staff, programming elements, visiting each school through a tour hosted by the principal and an interview session with the district’s leadership team.

He also plans to have elements of the study, such as enrollment projections, posted online before the entire study is completed. He said all of the final options presented would be “doable” options for the district.

“The heart of the study is using existing resources to best serve young people,” he said.

The various options identified for the district will each have its unique challenges and opportunities. Sometimes, he said opportunities would become challenges and vice-versa.

“There is not going to be one that is all roses,” he said.

Once the study is completed and results are published online, a community focus group would likely be established, to include around 30 to 40 community members to represent a diverse range of stakeholders. The focus group would ensure the list of opportunities and challenges for each scenario is complete.

“This is a community taxpayer decision,” Seversky said. “My job is to listen and record ideas and perceptions of the various scenarios that are in the study.”

He said the district isn’t in dire financial stress, which allows time for the community to weigh the best programming option.

“Your district is not in crisis,” he said. “There are districts I work with that are in crisis and they are literally out of money.”

He added the study “isn’t all about closing schools,” but that could be presented in options.

Board of Education member Colleen O’Connell said the study sounds more long-term than the “next three years,” with a longer focus of the next five to 10 years.

Seversky said enrollment data for secondary students would be forecasted for the next 10 years, which could provide an indication of what the future might bring. He said the study would also name possible variables that could affect enrollment.

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