Canton and Potsdam merger would save only $773,220 in salaries, benefits, but would expand educational opportunities
Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 11:35 am

By JIMMY LAWTON

POTSDAM – Consultants for the Canton Potsdam Joint Advisory Committee estimate about $773,220 in salary and benefits would be saved if the schools were merged.

At meeting held Monday at Potsdam High School, consultants from Western New York Educational Council, Buffalo, shared a breakdown of staffing sizes they estimated would be needed if the two schools were merged.

According to the numbers provided by the consultants total staffing at both schools would drop from 506.85 positions to 492.9 positions, a difference of about 14 full-time equivalent jobs.

Consultants estimated savings at less than a million dollars with the vast majority of found in a shift of administrative jobs toward more supervisory positions.

“Lets be honest,” consultant Doug Hamlin said. “Three quarters of a million dollars is not going to be enough savings to justify a merger.”

Hamlin said the savings from a merger would not be as visible as straightforward numbers. He said the truth is the schools have been bleeding jobs heavily since 2008 and are operating at an unsustainable staffing level.

Since 2008 Canton has cut 52.7 full-time equivalent jobs, 41.7 were instructional. Potsdam school has cut 48.2 full-time equivalent jobs, 34.8 were instructional positions.

Hamlin said that both schools have managed to be successful in spite of the deep cuts, but added that the schools were also reaching a tipping point.

“This can’t continue. That’s why we are here,” he said.

Hamlin estimated that Canton has saved $3 million in the past five years from reductions in staff and Potsdam has saved well over $2 million.

“The truth is you are already saving money, but you can’t continue down this path.”

Hamlin said a school merger would allow the schools to add more programs, with less staff, which would result in long-term savings and a higher quality of education.

If the schools merged the new district would also receive an additional $35 million from the state over a 14-year period.

Data shared at the meeting will posted today at https://sites.google.com/a/potsdam.k12.ny.us/cpmerger/.

A town hall style meeting will be held Monday at Canton High School.