RIPLEY - Ripley Central School Board members listened to a report from the other side of the fence June 19 concerning the results of tuitioning students to Chautauqua Lake Central School.
CLCS high school principal Josh Liddell told the board at its regular meeting that an end-of-year survey of students from both schools reveals that the tuitioning experience has been positive overall and in some cases has exceeded expectations.
"It's not all roses, but overwhelmingly, it has been positive," he said.
The core question in the survey asked students if they believe that combining Ripley and CLCS was a "good thing," Liddell said. Sixty-five percent said yes and 16 percent were unsure. "I think it's important that most of the students feel it's good," he said.
Liddell said that 82 percent of the students said their peer groups had expanded. "They said that the really small classes made it hard if there was someone in the class they had a problem with," he said
Related to the larger class size, Liddell said that disciplinary infractions have gone down in all categories. Students reported that the larger classes have "helped eliminate drama" and made it more difficult for people to act up, he said.
Eighty-two percent of students said they made new friendships and only 18 percent said they did not, Liddell said. Many students also said that co-curricular activities are "one of the best parts," he said, noting that nearly 83 percent of students are involved in something.
The combination of students also seems to have affected the graduation rate in a positive manner, Liddell said. One of the goals was to increase the rate from 85 to 92 percent. A "snapshot" current academic performance projects a rate of 92.3 percent he said.
"Out of 95 kids, that's maybe four or five students that are not passing.
And they can still graduate in August if they make up the work," he said.
Students from sixth grade in both schools were also surveyed, Liddell said. They indicated that they especially enjoyed shadowing days and combined fun nights, he said. "They were excited to see where they are going next year," he said.
While the combining of the schools seems to be going well, Liddell said it is important to Ripley students to maintain their identity. "They want to be known as Ripley students who attend Chautauqua Lake," he said.
In other business, the board voted to transfer an additional $20,000 from the unreserved fund balance into the lunch fund. "Without it, we would have to double the price of lunches," said business manager LouAnn Baghat.
This brings the total transfer from the unreserved fund balance to $182,854, which is more than voters approved in the May budget. It is allowable, however, because it is a contingency expenditure based on expenses that were uncertain, Baghat said.
"We did not anticipate having some of the special education needs that we have," she said. "Most of the cost comes from BOCES services that we have contracted for."
The board also approved a bond resolution for $2 million to be used for the planned facilities reconstruction project, as well as a bond for $245,000 for the purchase of two buses.
Ripley superintendent Dr. Lauren Ormsby reported that the district will amend its lease agreement with the town to include two extra rooms that will be used by the food pantry. The amendment will stipulate that any income the town receives from sub-letting these rooms will go to the school.