WESTFIELD - A revote on the merger between Brocton Central School and Westfield Academy and Central School may be pursued in the future, but only if a discussion can be had with those who voted it down to see what, if anything, needs to happen.
During the Westfield Board of Education meeting on Tuesday (the first since the merger vote), board member Marie Edwards asked if it is possible to conduct another vote, which Board President Jeffrey Greabell confirmed.
Greabell also stressed that if a revote is pursued, it is essential to reach out to the "no" voters to understand why they voted the way they did and to discuss those reasons with them. Edwards agreed that was essential for the board to do and said the board must also ask the question of what must be changed, if there is anything to change, for the "no" voters to potentially vote "yes."
OBSERVER Photo by Greg Fox
The Westfield Board of Education said Tuesday it may pursue a second merger vote with Brocton Central School, but only if a discussion can be had with those who voted it down last week to see if there is anything that could potentially be changed to sway their vote. Pictured, from left: Superintendent David Davison, Board President Jeffrey Greabell and Board Vice President Steven Cockram.
"We have a year and a day (from the time of the vote) for us to determine if we would like to pursue a second vote and I think prior to making that determination, we need to find out why the vote went the way it did," Greabell said. "I think some sort of community survey would be appropriate for us to take and I think our superintendent has a couple of ideas along that line. But, I do think we need to find out, in the near future, what all the underlying reasons are (for those who voted down the merger). But, I have no proposal to make at this point in time. It's a little bit soon after the vote for us to have a concrete proposal. It's important for us to know what the community wants in terms of what direction they want for our school."
Westfield resident Kendra Bills told the board that she hopes it works hard to answer any and all questions the community may have.
"As a parent, as a taxpayer, even if we're financially stable until 2019, 2021, I'm concerned and want to make sure we continue to provide what's best for kids so that they get a good education and aren't missing out on opportunities," she said.
"The manner in which districts are organized in New York state is a matter of local determination and the outcome of this referendum places a tremendous responsibility on our board of education and district residents," Superintendent David Davison said regarding last week's vote. "It also provides a challenge and opportunity to serve the educational needs of children and youth in Westfield. At this point, we will continue operating as a standalone district and we'll continue to work hard every day to meet the educational needs of students in our building and develop a course of action for the future that is based on the state and federal educational reform and the needs of our students."
"One of the responsibilities of the two school districts was informing the public through informational sessions, public meetings, mailings, the district websites, and we've tried to reach every eligible voter so that informed decisions could be made when it was time to vote," he continued. "I think it's important we use these same approaches to gather feedback and plan a course for the future and I believe we need to engage in collecting input from our community."
Davison pointed out that if a second merger vote is pursued, Brocton would not have to participate in voting since it voted in favor of a merger.
However, if the feasibility study is changed in any way, Brocton must revote and a straw vote in both communities must take place first.
Brocton overwhelmingly supported merging with Westfield after the voting results were announced last week, but Westfield rejected the merger by about 200 votes.
"We will speak with somebody who is a professional in (the surveying) area. It might take a month or so to formulate some sort of survey that will be the best way to reach out to the community," Davison said.
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