Thursday, June 6, 2013

Canton-Potsdam Merger?

I read recently that the Boards of Education from Canton and Potsdam will be meeting soon to initiate discussion about merging the school districts.  Some may think that this is a logical move.  The school districts have a very similar population, in terms of numbers and make-up of the communities.  One of the main obstacles will be that they don't have a similar tax rate, a key piece of the puzzle relative to a merger referendum.  In addition, has no one been paying attention to the controversy surrounding the sharing of Presidents between SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam?   The communities of both institutions have been more than vocal about wanting to maintain the identity of both campuses.  How will they react when the identity of their public school is threatened?

I happen to believe that, if the financial situation of school districts remains the same, school mergers will have to be made.  The same will be true of municipal village and town consolidations.   Of course, I don't believe that it will happen voluntarily.  And, I think that it makes more sense to look at the map of the county and create fewer districts based upon redrawing of the school district boundaries.  Most of our school districts are very large geographically and combining any two or three will exceed the limits of transportation plans.

Let's hope the the Canton and Potsdam Boards of Education don't waste too much time on these discussions.  They are needed to pay attention to what is happening in their own districts. Taking control of staff pension and insurance benefits and student academic needs requires their undivided attention!

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