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Education: CLCS, Ripley agreement to be applauded

April 8, 2013

Months of hard work by Ripley and Chautauqua Lake school officials have paid off with a tuition agreement between the two school districts that allows 131 Ripley students in seventh through 12th......

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Apr-09-13 9:07 AM

Yes, my county is a mirror image of Chau Cty – affluent and growing (3,000 new students and 2-3 new schools every year). Yes, we build each new HS c/w artificial turf for the football field. Yes, we added interactive whiteboards in every classroom K-12. Yes, we’re giving every student grades 7-12 an iPad, with the entire curriculum available online 24/7 and FIOS in every school.

But – we spent $11,595/yr per pupil this year – about 1/3 LESS than WNY schools.

How is that possible?

1. Consolidated, county-wide system. 2. One superintendent for 70,000 students (not 18 for 22,000). 3. County employees, including teachers, had a two-year wage freeze to keep taxes from increasing. (Contrast THAT with 3% annual raises in small WNY districts.) 4. The county legislature approves the school budget and sets the tax rate, not a school board.

And – my tax rate has gone DOWN for the past four years. Sorry, you can’t convince me consolidation and economy of scale don’t work.

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Apr-09-13 5:03 AM

Consolidation, shared services when decided by the people is a good thing. Regionalism is not. The people who toss this word around carelessly, know not of what they speak.

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Apr-08-13 9:01 PM


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Apr-08-13 5:20 PM

Sadly a centralized administration won't decrease you tax bill very much. Sure, put all that money in a pile and it looks like a lot, but reduce individual disctrict budgets even by $400,000 and you'd be suprised at how little an impact it would have. Now if you start letting a lot of teachers and and other staff go and shut down buildings, then you'll start seeing a meaningful decrease in your bill. It will happen, eventually.

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Apr-08-13 2:15 PM

I think Chau Cty has 18 school districts and +/- 22,200 students. I added up 2011-12 salaries/benefits for those superintendents: $2,318,217 base + $719,560 in benefits = $3,037,777/yr. Every year. An average pkg. of +/- $169k/yr per super.

Is a top-to-bottom administrative structure really necessary - from superintendent down to pencil sharpener - for just a couple of hundred students?! And it’s not just Ripley. Might not one payroll system, one HR department, one IT department, one purchasing department, one transportation department, etc. save more than a few bucks? Who gets a better price on fuel? The person buying for 20 school buses or 200? The person supplying lunch for 200 kids or 2,000?

Imagine combining 4-5-6 districts – wouldn’t that save money and reduce administrative overhead? Heck, go whole hog and create two districts – Chau Cty North and Chau Cty South. Let whoever wants to “go it alone” if they want – but also make them justify the extra cost to taxpayers.

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Apr-08-13 1:11 PM

Oh, the politicians do have their heads wrapped around this regionalism thing -- they just don't believe it would work for Fredonia-Dunkirk, as it did for Ripley-CLCS -- much to the disappointment of the clueless church lady gaggle OBSERVER board, who so desperately want Fredonia to bail-out Dunkirk in an way possible.

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Apr-08-13 9:41 AM

Aren't downstate interests the tail that wags the dog in the NYS Legislature?

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Apr-08-13 9:07 AM

The downstate Legislators have what to do with this? The matter passed in the Senate but did not come up for a vote in Assembly. It is sponsored by a Republican although many Democrats have signed on. The Democrats in the Assembly(all major cities in NYS, etc.) are not supporting this as yet. Although it is certainly possible this session. The legislature is looking for a reasonable way of avoiding mandating mergers as they did with hospitals. One way was to reduce aid to force merger, note this has been done. Another would be to promote regional high schools and permit them. Third is to simplify the merger process making it easier to merge. Here in lies the interests of our state legislators. Hats off to Andrew Goodell for his support!

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Apr-08-13 8:42 AM

Agree wholeheartedly. The NYS Legislature, beholden to downstate and special interests, needs to pull its collective head out of the sand and pay some attention to helping upstate areas with declining populations.

Regionalism and consolidation can work (a) if the NYS Legislature shows the courage to take on its campaign contributor (organized labor), (b) if the area’s parochial thinking and inertia can be overcome – really, what’s more important, who the asst. football coach is, or preparing children for the 21st century? and (c) if local school districts have the mettle to change the bloated status quo.

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