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Local News

January 9, 2014

Study: Shared services can save schools $600K

The Sidney and Unatego Central School districts were presented the results of a recently completed shared-services study at a December joint meeting of their boards of education, according to media release from Sidney Central School.

The study said savings could be as much as $440,000 for Sidney and $190,000 for Unatego, because of the difference in programs and services each offers. The cost for the study was $10,000 per school.

Sidney Superintendent Bill Christensen said he will be meeting with his counterpart at Unatego, Charles Molloy, in the next few weeks, to start the process. Molloy did not return a call for comment Wednesday.

“We will discuss some of the items staff can work on, and we will report back to our individual boards,” Christensen said. “The report gave us a place to start.”

Enrollment at Sidney declined 25 percent between 1999 and 2011, to 1,115 students, while Unatego is down 26 percent, to 1,014 students, over the same period, according to the latest BOCES report.

The superintendents of the two district met last February to first talk about ways to share programs, services and equipment during tight budget times. In April, Syracuse-based educational firm Castallo and Silky was brought in to assess the situation. The study was completed by two former BOCES Superintendents, Alan Pole and Jessica Cohen, who are with the firm. They presented their findings at the Dec. 16 meeting held at Sidney High School.

The focus of the study was on preserving and enhancing the quality of educational opportunities for students with an eye toward reducing costs. It showed where each school could save money through such measures as sharing a superintendent, business offices, a curriculum coordinator, food service management, a supervisor of buildings and grounds, transportation and a special education supervisor.

Unlike mergers, shared services allow school districts to remain intact and keep their individual identities.

With enrollment trends at area schools showing a long-term decline, shared services offer ways to continue providing students the programs they need to succeed through such measures as sharing a teacher or distance learning, Christensen said. Sharing athletic programs could be another way to offer students additional choices, while reducing costs, he said.

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