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CLCS makes statement on failure to pass regional high school bill

July 25, 2012
Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

MAYVILLE - The Chautauqua Lake Central School District has been a leader in the state in advocating for creative and out of the box shared services and collaborations for a number of years.

Its history includes sharing supervisory staff in such areas as cafeteria and transportation, hosting outside services such as child care programming approved by the Office of Family Services, social service programs through Chautauqua County, and special education programs through BOCES and co-founding the Central Business Office now hosted through BOCES.

The district is proud of its willingness to venture into the unexplored territory of delivering quality services that protect and preserve programs for students, while simultaneously offering cost efficiencies as well as collaborative relationships.

Its steadfast support and advocacy surrounding the regional high school legislation is yet another example of this commitment to find unique ways to do more with less. Unfortunately, the recent deliberations, or lack thereof, by elected officials at the state level illustrate the reluctance of the state to embrace this same approach. It is disheartening to see the concept of a regional high school unanimously supported in the Senate, but never to see the light of day on the floor of the Assembly. Even more disheartening is that this political dichotomy could take place twice in a two-year period.

With only one out of every five attempted consolidation proposals successful in the state and the local track record even worse, leaving the option for a new consolidation tool sitting on the table without a vote is unconscionable. With declining resources and enrollment in the face of increased regulations and state mandates, CLCS representatives owe it to the students of this state to welcome new and progressive alternatives. Instead, the inaction by the state Assembly highlights a willingness for districts like those involved with the ASSET consortium to die on the vine by applying the definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for a different result.

Chautauqua Lake is deeply appreciative of its local legislators, Senator Catharine Young and Assemblyman Andy Goodell, for pushing this revolutionary legislation forward. However, now it, like other districts in the state, will be forced to deal with extreme financial pressures as state aid fails to keep pace with unfunded mandates and administrative requirements. In addition, the new property tax cap looms large in restricting local economic support, and a diminishing student population makes rightsizing high school programs virtually impossible. While the choice to pursue a regional high school had not been made by any district involved in this advocacy journey, Chautauqua Lake believes the choice should be made available. Unfortunately, the State Assembly, as a governing body, disagreed and made a choice for all by simply making the option not a choice.



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