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School mergers: Student benefits

May 29, 2013
Steve Cockram , Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

The bottom line in a merger process is to ask ourselves if our children's and grandchildren's educations would be improved if Westfield and Brocton are separate or together. We have cut things out of our budget for years. Part has been to match the 25 year history of losing about 1 percent of student population each year. Westfield used to have enough students to need four classes per grade. It is now down to three and will soon be two.

For more specialized classes, like French, the board has had to justify having a teacher for only seven students in French 4. The answer last year was to cut the whole program. If there are two times seven students in a merged district, it is much easier to say yes to the students.

The Westfield and Brocton varsity and junior varsity and guys/girls soccer and football teams - and Chautauqua Lake's experience - have demonstrated that the kids figure out the merger in about two days. It is just one team. Yes, there is more competition, but competition can make a whole group of students push each other do better. Students who have moved appreciate that it is more important that they get an education, rather than where they were.

Students interviewed by the merger consultants hoped that combining would lead to more relationships, more friends, more diversity, have more courses - even French 4 - more AP courses to broaden their horizons, and some of the sports that have been cut. They even hoped to have the problem of having to prioritize. They are right. Maybe we parents could even decide to provide courses like driver's education. I, for one, truly want our youth to have the skills to be successful in life.

The views expressed here are my own, not of the Westfield Academy and Central School Board of Education.

Steve Cockram,

Westfield, N.Y.

Westfield Academy and Central School Board of Education member



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