May 26, 2024

Education For Live

Masters Of Education

School merger idea spiked amid heated community backlash

3 min read

A strategy to potentially fold the very small Fort Edward Union Free of charge University District into nearby South Glens Falls educational institutions has been aborted, both equally school boards stated.

Opposition to the acquisition largely arrived from Fort Edward, which stood to attain from academic offerings, extracurricular packages, and athletics offered in the 3,000-pupil South Glens Falls district. But Fort Edward would get rid of its identify, its modest course dimensions and —  some feared — its cultural identity. 

The South Glens Falls board unanimously voted in favor of sending the merger strategy to voters, although 5 of nine Fort Edward board officials voted towards moving forward with a neighborhood referendum. 

“I appreciate that our Board of Instruction voted to choose this crucial subject to our citizens. Any proposal this essential really should be resolved by our voters.” South Glens Falls Superintendent Kristine Orr stated. “While the district was ready to go forward with this perform, we understand that now was just not the right time to proceed.”

If authorized by the faculty boards and voters in both communities, the proposed merger would have produced the mixed district qualified for $50 million in point out incentive help and $6 million in setting up aid over 15 many years and would have lowered taxes for citizens in Fort Edward, Moreau and Wilton.

The merger was also seen as an response to Fort Edward’s fiscal challenges. Fort Edward in recent years has found 3 budgets defeated and has dipped into its fund equilibrium for 5 many years in a row. South Glens Falls has seen regular spending budget approvals for extra than a ten years and has grown its fund harmony in latest decades. 

The Fort Edward college board read impassioned testimony from group members who argue their children would endure in a greater faculty surroundings. Some took offense at the idea their college district was missing in educational rigor. Numerous mentioned the approach disrespected the village’s record and cultural identity.

The board’s vote in opposition to keeping the referendum was met with thunderous cheers and applause in the significant college auditorium on Wednesday. 

Board customers who opposed the evaluate said the timing was not ideal for a merger. They take note that feelings are significant because of to the pandemic which has stoked cultural battles about general public health actions in colleges like mask-carrying and vaccine mandates. 

School board leaders condemned the own assaults lobbed in opposition to board users, who they said were being smeared as corrupt “goons” on social media and by opponents who went doorway to doorway to blast the proposal. 

“Some behaviors we have witnessed do not depict the best of Fort Edward. Lots of of us you should not appreciate the booing, yelling and own attacks some of us have been uncovered to,” board member James Donahue mentioned. “We want to occur together for the ideal fascination of our youngsters. Don’t forget, it can be Fort Edward against the entire world.”

Castallo and Silky Instructional Consultants were being hired in 2020 to generate a analyze laying out the added benefits and potential pitfalls of annexing the districts. 

Each districts are going through declining enrollments, the analyze observed. Fort Edward’s K-12 enrollment dropped from 494 to 396 in the very last 6 many years. Enrollment in South Glens Falls fell from 3,136 to 2,831 in the similar interval.

The joint district would have saved about $1.4 million in income and gain costs through a reduction of about 11 teachers and one particular superintendent. But most of the work would possible be reduce through attrition rather than layoffs, the report states. There would also be a want to hire about 7 or eight academics in the main issue regions for the Fort Edward learners.

Fort Edward teachers would have seen a increase to convey their salaries up to the pay out of educators in the South Glens Falls district.

One of few vocal proponents of the approach, Elaine Trackey-Saltsman, was shouted down by the crowd at a modern hearing. Trackey-Saltsman ran for university board about the summer months on a pro-merger system but misplaced to an anti-merger candidate.

“Enable the people determine,” she instructed the board at a Sept. 13 conference. She added. “As significantly as dividing the village, the people who want the merger are being quite tranquil due to the fact of the detest that’s coming from the other facet.”  

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