Tuesday forum set to explain school merger

Carlin

A day after voters in the Schenevus Central School District overwhelmingly voted against a proposed merger with the Worcester Central School District, Schenevus Superintendent Theresa Carlin said it was time to focus on the 2022-23 school budget and an upcoming building project.

"Everything was put on hold while we waited for the outcome of the merger vote," Carlin said.

Carlin said the school building will need part of its roof replaced because it is leaking and some masonry on the building has crumbled and needs fixing. She said the district will conduct a building condition survey to see what other repairs the school building needs. She said she hoped to get the building project in front of voters before the summer so the roof could be fixed.

According to the Schenevus/Worcester Central Schools Merger Committee website, if the repairs to the school cost $2 million, it would add $320,000 to the budget each year for 20 years. The website also listed the district's financial trouble as a reason for the merger. It said to maintain programming, not including building repairs, the district needs $300,000 more per year than taxes and state aid support provide. That would result in taxes needing to be raised 8% to 10%, well above the tax cap, so budgets will need to be passed by a super majority, using fund balance or by cutting nonmandated programs such as athletics, BOCES, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. 

Carlin said the district is in negotiations with two unions and her "main focus is to make sure students have a safe, happy and comfortable place to attend school."

She said she won't know what the 2022-23 budget will look like until the board of education starts crunching the numbers, but her assumption is there will be a budget shortfall the district will have to overcome. Some of the reason for the shortfall is the inflation, which is already impacting this year's budget, she said.

Carlin said she wanted to thank the Worcester Central School District residents for passing the merger and apologized to the members of the merger committee and WCS Superintendent Tim Gonzales for all the time and effort they put into the merger. 

"It was not the outcome we had hoped for," she said.

Gonzales said Schenevus and Worcester have already combined to form an outdoor track and field team, which will continue in the future. He said while the two districts haven't discussed sharing other programs, "I am always open to collaborating with Schenevus or any school for the betterment of our students' education."

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at vklukkert@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_VickyK on Twitter.

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