After months in production, Westfield Academy and Central School finally released a public survey asking district residents why they voted down the proposed merger with Brocton Central School last October.
The survey, entitled "Future Focus" and created in consultation with Donald McCord of Small Town Planning Services, is available electronically at www.futurefocus.questionpro.com, or can be reached by a link on the district website, www.wacs.wnyric.org. Residents unable to complete the electronic version can complete a paper copy at the Patterson Library on South Portage Street.
The 30 questions should take about 10 minutes to complete. Results will be shared with the public.
According to a news release, the survey should help gather information on school climate, education priorities and possible reorganization.
"This has been in discussion and under development since last fall, when the proposed centralization of the Brocton and Westfield school districts was defeated by residents of Westfield," Superintendent David Davison stated in the release. "The voter outcome showed the will of the community this past October. Now, this survey is designed to help us measure what the community values about our educational program and our schools and will tell us where we stand now and indicate a direction for our future.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for our school to gather input and feedback about our current and future district operations, communications and school climate."
Westfield Board of Education President Jeff Greabell agreed, adding the survey should help give school officials direction on where the district's future should go, including if the merger should head to a revote.
"We'd like to know a little bit more about where the people who voted 'no' were coming from so we can figure out what we should do and what we shouldn't do," he said.
Some questions ask respondents the issues that shaped their opinion on the merger and where that information on those issues came from. The survey also asks if a revote should occur and if Westfield should explore merging with and/or annexing the Brocton, Ripley, Chautauqua Lake or Sherman districts.
While not all the questions are directly related to the failed merger vote, Brocton Superintendent John Hertlein said he will closely monitor the survey's results.
"The board presidents and superintendents have met a couple times to continue the discussion on what is left to do and what we can do together," he said. "We are very anxious to continue anything we can, whether it's sharing or whether it's merging. We're also interested in taking a look at those recommendations in the merger study and ask, 'Is there anything that can be modified that either one of the districts would possibly look at again and move into another vote?'
"We do understand, however, that the voters did already vote, and we appreciate that, so Brocton is not going to put any pressure on Westfield to revote, unless they want to. We have not closed off the possibility (for another vote) though, nor do I think Westfield has. But again, we respect the voters."
In conjunction with the survey, Westfield will also conduct focus groups to discuss the district's future direction. Anyone wishing to join a focus group should call the district office at 326-2151 and leave their name and phone number.
"We are appreciative of all of the consideration and dialogue that has already occurred in our community," Davison said. "This survey will help guide the board of education and administrative team in future decision-making and help us improve upon what we are doing now using relevant community feedback. I encourage everyone to make the time to have their voices heard."
Brocton overwhelmingly supported merging with Westfield 643 votes to 74, but Westfield rejected the merger by about 200 votes, 718 to 507. Both communities needed a majority in favor of consolidation for it to become reality.
A revote is possible if the Westfield Board of Education chooses to pursue it by Oct. 10.