WESTFIELD - It was a hard goodbye.
The Westfield Academy and Central School Board of Education said a fond farewell to Interim Superintendent Margaret Sauer. In May, David Davison officially became the new superintendent at WACS.
"There really is nothing, absolutely nothing," that could be done to thank Sauer for what she has done for the district, Board President Marie Edwards said. "To think of where we were and where we are now, and to think we have her to thank, there really is not enough we can do."
OBSERVER?Photo by Jenna Loughlin
Westfield Academy and Central School Interim Superintendent Margaret Sauer, left, is all laughs upon receiving a “key” to the school from Board of Education President Marie Edwards, right, at the board’s meeting. It was Sauer’s last meeting as the new Superintendent David Davison took office.
"It's been my sincere pleasure," Sauer said. "Really, you guys have been absolutely wonderful. It's been worth every minute. ... Overall, I'm really glad that I've been able to help ... move the district forward."
Though there is more to come, Edwards did present Sauer with a key to the school in the shape of the special fob style key, which gave Sauer a laugh. She recounted the story of when she returned to the district, asked for a key and had to adjust to the new technology.
Sauer received a standing ovation from both the board and the audience.
The majority of the discussion at the meeting centered around the joint board meeting between WACS and Brocton Central School Boards of Education.
Four questions were posed to the board - What would it do differently than in the past? Are there any ideas how to engage the community? Should the district seek funds for a feasibility study? Does the board wish to approve a resolution to enter into a feasibility study on centralization with BCS?
Board Vice President Steve Cockram said he believes in a two prong approach - a state portion and a public education or public relations campaign.
"It's about the kids and what they're going to get," he said.
After spending some time thinking about the issue, board member Jeffrey Greabell said the most important thing is to explain to the public the fact that the district has to do something or the students are going to suffer greatly.
"We're chipping away at our programming already," Edwards said.
"With a maul," Greabell added.
Board member Steven Reynolds lamented the lack of community interest. He said a budget meeting used to pack the auditorium in the past, but this year there were only 11 people. Greabell responded he thinks that is where the board needs to step in and pound the pavement. He suggested offering to meet with civic groups at their locations and talk about the facts of what the district is facing in its financial future. One fact he feels is the most important is that the district had to cut programs as opposed to the district having excess in the budget to cut.
Cockram suggested a social media component to the board's campaign while Business Manager and District Clerk Al Holbrook suggested asking the civic organizations if they are willing the help our, expanding the base of people getting the right information.
As far as the feasibility study, it is a mandatory component of a merger or consolidation, and no one was opposed. Sauer added the Brocton board had the same resolution on its agenda on May 16. Both Westfield's and Brocton's resolutions unanimously passed their respective boards.
It also appears a full merger with Ripley is not an option.
In response to a letter sent out earlier this year asking neighboring districts about their interest in merging or consolidating with WACS, the Ripley Central School Board of Education thanked Westfield for reaching out, but said it was holding out for a regional high school.