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Super: Districts ‘unofficially’ notified of grant

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BRUSHTON - While the Brushton-Moira Central School and St. Regis Falls Central School boards of education have yet to receive grant funds for a Re-organizational Feasibility Study, both bodies began reviewing a draft request for proposal at a joint meeting that will be sent to grant consultants upon receipt of the grant money.

Although Shared Superintendent Beverly Ouderkirk said that she received word from a representative of the New York state Education Department that the application for the grant for the study was “well written” and she anticipates hearing from the Department of State Division of Budget, no formal letter awarding the grant or a check for the funds has been received.

“We have unofficial notification,” Ms. Ouderkirk said.

The grant would be for $45,000 and, according to former St. Regis Falls School Board President Michelle Brockway, would look at various options for reorganization and consolidation. One of which could be some form of a merger between the districts.

The introduction to the draft RFP poses four questions, including if combining the two school districts would be beneficial to students along with a possible lower tax bill for taxpayers, if combining the districts would be more financially stable in the long-term by reorganizing them, what would a new, combined district be like, and if there are other options besides reorganizing the districts.

The RFP then gives a time line for the study, which the boards of education said would need to be updated since it is now several months behind the proposed dates.

“You can see we’re way off this time line,” Ms. Ouderkirk said. “We will update it when we get more information.”

The time line does indicate, however, that the study would take about three months.

A list of what would need to be done by the consultant and expectations for what needs to be researched are then listed in the RFP.

Ms. Ouderkirk said she would like Franklin-Essex-Hamilton BOCES Superintendent Steve Schafer to look over the RFP and possibly add in some “specifics.”

Some blanks were also left that the boards will continue to discuss.

If the two school boards are awarded the grant and the feasibility study takes place, the board members discussed having a citizens advisory committee involved in the process. All board members seemed to support discussing the idea at future meetings.

“I think we’re in some agreement that the concept be kept in mind,” Ms. Ouderkirk said.

She said if the boards decided to form a committee it would be created following receipt of the grant funds. The committee could possibly consist of business people, citizens, students and other community members, Ms. Ouderkirk said.

However, she indicated that the decision to reorganize the school districts would be left up to eligible voters living within the two districts’ boundaries.

Discussion of the RFP and the feasibility study will continue at the next joint meeting between the two school boards scheduled for Aug. 29.

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