RIPLEY - Legislation allowing a regional high school is still a possibility, Ripley School Board members learned at its regular meeting Thursday night, June 14.
The board also welcomed new member Michael Boll who was elected to replace Melinda Gervasio.
School Superintendent Karen Krause told board members she had been contacted by New York State Senator Catherine Young (R,C,I - Olean) who said the regional high school bill she had introduced had passed several hurdles and was in the general assembly for debate. Senator Young has introduced two regional high school bills, one involving the entire state and the other affecting only the BOCES 2 district. The local bill has passed the senate and is now in the Ways and Means Committee of the assembly. The assembly closes its session at the end of June, so a vote would have to be cast on the bill soon, she said.
Photo by David Prenatt
Allen and Justine Mellors addressed the Ripley Central School Board of Education on Thursday, June 14 about their daughter’s experience as the first student to take advantage of an inter-municipal agreement allowing a student to attend classes their own school does not offer.
"It's still moving and that's more than we ever had," Krause said. "That is encouraging."
The bill would make it possible for Ripley, Westfield, Brocton and Chautauqua Lake schools to pursue the possibility of creating a combined high school for its students.
On a related issue, board president Robert Bentley reported a year-end exit poll among the community asked if students in grades seven through 12 should be tuitioned to Chautauqua Lake high school if they chose. Voting yes were 127 respondents while 95 voted no.
"I think we have a direction from the community and I feel good about that," he said.
Tuitioning students to Chautauqua Lake would be a possible option for the future in the event the Ripley School District would no longer be able to function independently.
Bentley also reported on a recent round table discussion where administrators, parents and students from the four schools were invited to take part in with state legislators Young, New York State Assemblyman Andy Goodell and New York State Senator and Education Committee Chairman John Flanagan (R,C,IP - Suffolk County) regarding education in this area.
Ripley ninth grader Ryliegh Hawkins, eighth grader Kira Mellors and seventh grader Analise Mellors spoke to the legislators at the round table discussion. Bentley said the Ripley students represented the school well.
"I have never been so proud of three Ripley kids in my life," he said. "I went there with a lot of things to say and these three said them better than I ever could."
Ripley Principal Lauren Ormsby said the variety of people who took part in the discussion provided the legislators with a clear view of the challenges faced by Ripley and the other schools.
"We brought a group of good people and I think we gave them a really well-rounded perspective," she said.
In other matters, Allen and Justine Mellors, parents of Ripley student Analise Mellors, spoke to the board about their daughter's experience of taking classes at Chautauqua Lake Central School this past year. Analise was the first student to take advantage of an inter-municipal agreement between Ripley, Chautauqua, Brocton and Westfield allowing a student to attend classes their own school does not offer.
Justine Mellors stated the program gave her daughter the challenges she would not have been able to receive in Ripley.
"Analise has had a wonderful year," she said. "With only so many opportunities that our community can offer, we have to combine resources."
Allen Mellors stated the only downfall to the program was a transportation issue which prevented Analise from taking Spanish classes at Chautauqua because she could not get there in time.
Principal Ormsby said she believes the program will expand in the years to come.
"We tried it with one student. Our next step in the fall - if the regional high school does not work out - could be sending a larger group," she said.
Superintendent Krause said the superintendents of the school districts would negotiate a tuition rate if the program expands. She expressed hope Ripley could work with Chautauqua Lake school to provide buses to an open house night so parents could go with their children to see what is available.