By ANDY GARDNER
MASSENA -- The Board of Education took another step toward building consolidation and on Thursday night voted 7-0 to hire a consultant to explore their options. Board members Paul Bronchetti and Ron Faucher were absent. The district decided in April to study putting grades 7 to 12 in one building and “stacking” the elementary grades. That means an entire grade level would be in one building instead of spread across three.
The will pay Bruce Fraser $500 per day for no more than 10 days. He is chairman of the Rural Schools Association of which Massena Central is a member.
“We had some meetings as administrators and feel we need the guidance of someone who has done other consolidation studies,” Interim Superintendent of Schools William Flynn said.
One member of the audience, who did not identify herself or speak during a public comment period, gasped when board president John Boyce announced the cost.
Fraser will have until December to report back to the board. They passed a motion in April setting that as the deadline.
In May, Flynn told the board that combining junior and senior high would probably require a new building.
"It would appear it's not going to be simply shutting down one building and moving everyone over," Flynn said at the time.
Finance committee chairman Loren Fountaine proposed the building merger during the April meeting as a potential means to trim money from future budgets. The project also includes so-called elementary “stacking.” That means rather than each building housing kindergarten through sixth-grade students, each grade would be under one roof.
He believes "there are a lot of savings to be realized," but wants an in-depth look to get at hard facts before any action is taken, he said at the time.
"I think it's a great idea," board trustee Kevin Peretta said April 3. "The real savings are in these types of decisions."
Fountaine noted that the school could drain its fund balance before the end of the decade. They are using $3.5 million of it this year, along with slashing $202,000 from last year's spending blueprint.
"We're in a good place because of our fund reserves. They won't last forever," he said April 3.