By JIMMY LAWTON
CANTON -- The ball is rolling on the Canton-Potsdam school district merger study and the public is encouraged to attend a school tour and merger committee meeting at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 16 at Canton Central School.
This meeting is one of many that will continue until May as the schools undergo a $40,000 study to determine whether merging the two districts would be in best interest of students, taxpayers, teachers and the community at large.
Western New York Education Services Council, Buffalo, has been hired to work with the joint committee on the study, but is also expected to gather information from the public. The firm will be identifying potentials cost savings, changes in staffing numbers, transportation and building logistics and other factors associated with combining the districts into one.
The Monday meeting will focus largely on projected enrollments and fiscal issues related to the merger.
Potsdam Superintendent Patrick Brady said he would like to see the public involved in every step of the process.
He said the public is welcome at all of the meetings and the committee itself includes administrators, parents teachers, support staff, business owners, students and other stakeholders, to ensure a variety of views are brought to light.
“This process has the potential to impact all of these people directly, so it’s important that they are represented in the discussion,” Brady said.
Canton Superintendent Bill Gregory said the meetings are work sessions, which are led by consultants, but will include information gathering and discussions with the committee members.
The group will meet once per month from now until May with the next meeting at Canton Central School Monday.
“They will be looking at trends and birth rates to see what we can expect. We need to see the total number students that need to be supported moving forward,” Gregory said.
The decision to undergo the merger study stemmed from rising costs and state funding cuts that have ravaged school budgets over the past five years.
Both superintendents say their districts have drastically reduced staff and slashed programs. Further reductions, they say, would render the schools insolvent.