Consultants recommend locating high school in Potsdam, middle school in Canton if districts merge
Thursday, May 8, 2014 - 5:33 pm

By JIMMY LAWTON

POTSDAM -- If Potsdam and Canton schools merge, the high school would be in Potsdam and Canton would get the middle school, according to the scenario presented by consultants Wednesday.

Consultant Roger Gorham said this was determined using data gathered anonymously from members of the joint-merger committee.

Overall, committee members seemed to agree that Potsdam’s facility would better meet needs of a high school, while Canton’s building has some positives for middle schoolers.

At previous meetings, joint committee members said people they had spoken with seemed concerned over the issue. Committee members said there was a feeling that the town that landed the high school was the winner, while the other community was perceived as losing. However the decision did not stir much conversation at the final work session.

With the high school and middle school locations decided, consultants also presented a transportation report showing bus rides would not likely exceed 65 minutes for any students.

According to the report, about 18 percent of students attending Canton Middle School would walk. Travel times for about 75 percent of middle school students riding the bus would range from 10 to 45 minutes. About 6 percent, or 35 middle schoolers, would ride the bus for 25 to 55 minutes, and the remaining 1 percent, or five students would ride the bus from 30 to 65 minutes.

The results were similar for high schoolers. For students attending a merged high school in Potsdam consultants estimated that 19 percent of students would walk to school. About 68 percent of students would spend less than 45 minutes on the bus. About 77 students or 10 percent would spend 25 to 55 minutes on the bus and 23 students or 3 percent of students would spend between 30 and 65 minutes on the bus.

Consultants will finalize the merger study and present the report to the boards of education by June 19. After reviewing the report board members will determine if the study will be brought to a public vote.

If both boards approve, a non-binding “straw vote” would be held in each district. Consultants said if that vote is positive then a binding referendum would be held to finalize the process and determine the number of board members and their term lengths.

View related story on Wedneday night's presentation by the consultants.