By Katie Atkins
WESTFIELD - It will be a busy year for Brocton Central School and Westfield Academy and Central School boards of education if the proposed consolidation of districts becomes a reality. A meeting was held at Westfield's school auditorium on Monday, Aug. 26 to discuss the next step.
BOCES Superintendent Dr. David O'Rourke guided the meeting as a representative for the State Education Department.
"Our goal tonight is to talk about the requirements of the two communities," O'Rourke said.
The Western New York Educational Service Council performed a study last August to determine the benefits of consolidating schools. Both boards adopted resolutions to support the findings. Four public hearings were held on the results of the study, two in each community.
A "straw vote" occured in June with both districts in approval of the merge. Now, a statutory vote is anticipated for Oct. 9. The State Education Department requires a petition for the statutory vote and needs a total of 100 signatures. A second petition from Brocton is needed to establish a secondary voting site. Then, if the commissioner of the education department approves, a board of canvass composed of 12 or 15 people is established with representatives from both communities to work at the primary poll site, Westfield.
"Voters will find the provision of voting very familiar," O'Rourke said.
The first item on the ballot will be a binding vote, asking if Westfield and Brocton should join together as one centralized school district. The results will be tabulated separately. Brocton results will be transported to Westfield for tabulation. The results are not combined, but announced separately at Westfield.
O'Rourke explained, "This is essentially to save work, so that you don't have to have another special meeting."
Should the merger vote be successful, a new board of education would consist of five, seven or nine members. This is just one of many matters to consider in the coming months if the schools combine.
"Sometimes it can be a little complicated," O'Rourke said. "Those are the basics of the process ahead of us."
A WNYESC document states, "small districts, especially those under 1000 students, gain the most from merging and suffer the most from not. In addition to struggling with shallow tax bases and lower secondary enrollments, smaller districts suffer diseconomies of scale that result in higher cost per pupil in several areas including administration."
Additional public informational sessions can take place with various community groups if they invite superitendents and board presidents to discuss study findings. The results can be viewed on both of the school websites: www.wacs.wnyric.org and www.broctoncsd.org.