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What a democracy is not

March 17, 2010 - John D'Agostino

Once again the question of school mergers —or centralization — was posed to our three state representatives during the Legislative Breakfast, sponsored by the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce. All three stated clearly they are for school mergers.

Of course, the process at which schools can merge is flawed. Both boards and districts must agree to explore the merger option — and once the boards agree, it then goes to the voters.

Both recent mergers — between Ripley and Westfield and Fredonia and Brocton — were approved by a majority vote. However, Westfield as a district defeated the first proposal in February 2009 and Brocton as a district defeated the plan in December.

I tend to agree with Sen. Catharine Young, Assemblymen William Parment and Joseph Giglio. If the Boards of Education agree to merge, leave it in their hands. They are elected to serve by those same constituents who will ultimately vote on the merger.

By the way, state residents do not vote on the state budget or municipal budgets. However, we trust our representatives will vote what is best for those they serve. Sometimes we get what we want, sometimes we do not.

The easy answer is always to side with our declining quo. Agree to back the system we have used in the past because we know no other. Votes in Cattaraugus County, however, may begin a time of change.

With 63 governmental entities in Chautauqua County and a population of 132,000 people, that is far too many. Those mergers were approved. New York state must end its archaic system.


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