There is a need to see "the other side of the coin" with regard to the proposed merger of the Fredonia and Brocton Central Schools.
This desire was expressed by merger community and support subcommittee member Michelle Dolce at Saturday's meeting at Fredonia Central.
Up until now, she said, the committee members have heard only the positive aspects of a merger.
"It's an apples and oranges comparison, in my opinion," she said
Saturday's session featured Chautauqua Lake Central School representatives who talked about the benefits that were derived from the merger of the former Mayville and Chautauqua Schools.
This merger resulted in the construction of a new school and a reduction of tax costs.
The proposed Brocton-Fredonia merger would retain both schools' buildings with a series of options offered from consideration regarding student enrollment.
One of these options, the last of five, suggests all the students being housed at Fredonia.
This option has not been endorsed by any of the committee members in an open meeting, but Dolce said it represents her fears coming true.
"Fredonia is big enough to absorb Brocton and if that happens what will happen to Brocton?" she asked.
She further predicted that if Brocton Central School closed, it would destroy the community.
Committee representative Mike Riforgiato said he has sensed apprehension among Brocton community residents.
"They're concerned about what would happen to Brocton, if the merger were to take place," he said.
Tom Hawk, another community subcommittee member, said the destruction of the community began years ago when local businesses closed.
"The school district is simply the last to go and we have to deal with the circumstances at hand; we have to look to the future and hold our politicians accountable," he said.
Community subcommittee member Shirley Erbsmehl pointed out that, "The reality of the day is, closed schools are put to other uses that still draw and serve the community.
"There is the Eagle Street school in Fredonia and the former St. Anthony's school. Both are being used as community centers," she said.
Adding to this was community subcommittee member Sally Battaglia who said, "We all have to let go of our fears."
"Everyone here has had an opportunity to voice our opinions," she said.
Facilitator Paul Haley said the bottom line decisions go back to the committee members.
"Your role is to get the options out to the communities," he said.
The communities involved in the proposed merger should focus on the quality of education offered to the students and an opportunity to improve the cost of this education, Haley stated.
"Fredonia and Brocton school districts are faced with declining enrollments and when you don't have children to education, you try to find an answer," Haley said. "The proposed merger gives you two shots - the straw vote and the actual vote. If the actual yes-no vote defeats the proposal, you get another chance in two years."
He asked that residents of both the Fredonia and Brocton communities take time to fill out a four-question survey they received in the mail.
The questions ask:
What their district does well and should be continued
What areas could be improved
The possible benefits of a merger
The possible concerns involved with a merger
These surveys can be dropped off at various locations in both districts or may be mailed to the districts' supervisors. Drop off locations and addresses are listed on the survey form. The deadline for returning these surveys is March 20.
The merger study wrap-up meeting has been scheduled for 8 a.m. on March 28 at Brocton Central's cafeteria.
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