As the school year winds down across the region, one success story stands out from many others: the smooth transition of tuitioning Ripley students to Chautauqua Lake Central School.
In a move to benefit the educations of those attending the smallest district in the county, residents in Ripley in February 2013 voted by a narrow margin to tuition its students in grades seven to 12 to Chautauqua Lake. One of the biggest issues, which always comes in decisions like this, is transportation.
We have winters in Chautauqua County. Transportation will always be an issue.
But when it comes to educating students, both Chautauqua Lake and Ripley students benefitted from the partnership. In a recent survey done by the districts, the expected outcomes were reported.
For instance, Ripley students - to the tune of 89 percent - took part in extracurricular activities. Ripley students also were exposed to Advanced Placement college courses, which are of a much greater benefit than extra study halls to those looking to further their education.
Overall, 65 percent of the students surveyed strongly agreed with combining the schools. On the other end of the spectrum, 9 percent strongly disagreed with the combination.
"All the indicators are that things are going pretty good," said Benjamin Spitzer, Chautauqua Lake Central Schools superintendent.
And why would anyone expect it to be any different? Ripley students are reaping rewards from a tough community decision made more than a year ago.
Ripley, as a community, also is benefiting from the plan. Its tax rate decreased in the last budget and the school is being utilized by the town for some of its offices.
Opponents of school mergers talk about the doom and gloom of what will happen. Here, as is usually the case in these mergers, students are the big winners. This partnership proves that not only do opportunities grow, but friendships between the students do as well.