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February 28, 2013

Districts hold workshop on possible merger

Residents in the Schenevus and Worcester central school districts can participate in the first steps of what could lead to a plan to merge the two schools.

The public is invited to a Planning to Plan Board Workshop from 7 to 9 p.m. today at the Schenevus Central School cafeteria to examine what questions they would like answered with a reorganization study. The cost will not exceed the grant the districts are applying for this month through the state Department of Education.

It’s important that residents become part of the process, Worcester Superintendent William Diamond said. He would need to wait until after the study to discuss such things as busing, staffing, sports teams and school configuration, he said. But with a combined population of 370 at Schenevus and 410 at Worcester, both buildings would be needed, he said. The schools are about five miles apart.

If the grant is approved, the study would begin in fall 2013 and be completed spring 2014, Diamond said. The boards, which already agreed to consider the idea, would vote on the plan, followed by a straw vote by the communities in the fall-winter 2014-15. If that is approved, the plan would go to the state Education Commissioner and a final vote. The new school could be open by July 2015 in a preliminary timeline.

No action will be taken today, he said, but the meeting will be conducted by the SES Study Team, consultants who specialize in such work.

The goal will be to develop a rank-ordered list of priorities, which will be used by the districts as they prepare their grant application, Schenevus Superintendent Thomas Jennings said.

“It will help give us a sense of what’s important to the communities and what the concerns are so residents will have a clear understanding of the issues,” if it gets to a vote, he said.

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