If Crown Point and Ticonderoga school districts merge, taxpayers will save money and students will have more opportunities. That’s the conclusion of a report by Castallo & Silky-Education Consultants, a Syracuse-based firm hired by the two districts to study a possible merger.
If Crown Point and Ticonderoga school districts merge, taxpayers will save money and students will have more opportunities.
That’s the conclusion of a report by Castallo & Silky-Education Consultants, a Syracuse-based firm hired by the two districts to study a possible merger. The report was funded by the New York State Department of State.
The final report will be presented Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. at a meeting of both school boards at Crown Point Central School.
Helping the consultants draft the report were two committees representing the schools. Crown Point’s committee included Seth Celotti, Anita Johnson Tom Fish, Brian Kiely, Agatha Mace, Shana Macey, Peggy Patnode, Tara Spaulding and Tom Wranosky. Ti’s committee included Mike Cherubini, Joyce Cooper, John Donohue, Dave Iuliano, James Major, Seanna Porter, Lynn Reale, Nancy Rich and Michelle Young.
The 125-page report looks at enrollments, programs, athletics, facilities, transportation, staffing and finances.
It is available on the Ticonderoga Central School website at www.ticonderogak12.org/disinf.cfm?subpage=960823. It is also on the Crown Point website at www.cpcsteam.org/district/merger-study/final-report-1-4.pdf
Following receipt of the final report each school board will decide whether to pursue a merger. If they agree to a merger, the issue then goes to voters in each district as a straw vote. If voters OK the merger plan it goes to the state education department, where the commissioner of education will ask for a second vote of both districts.
A single no vote at any point kills a possible merger.
A merger would save the new, combined district almost $1 million a year, according to the report.
“Considering incentive operating aid, additional building aid, savings from staff reductions and budget efficiencies, loss of BOCES aid, and the cost of leveling up staff salaries, it is estimated that a merged district would realize savings and additional revenues of $12,225,241 for the first 14 years after a merger,” the report states.
A merger would also lower tax rates, the study said.
“Using 50 percent of the incentive operating aid and the other savings outlined, it is estimated that the true value tax rate for the merged district in the first year would be $9.46 per thousand ($1,000 of assessed value), a reduction of $2.27 per thousand (-19.4 percent) in Crown Point and a reduction of 83 cents per thousand (-8.1 percent) in Ticonderoga,” it reads.
“Translating the full-value tax rate to an assessed value tax rate shows tax rates of $9.18 in the three townships that are currently in the Crown Point district (Crown Point, Moriah and Ticonderoga), $11.70 in Hague and $9.73 in Ticonderoga,” it reports.
Elementary students would remain in their respective schools in a merger, the report recommends, with grades 6-8 attending Ti Middle School and 9-12 attending Ti High School. The Crown Point school, while adequate for elementary students, is not large enough to handle middle and high school enrollments, the report said.
Bus garages should be maintained in each community, the report said.
Students, particularly in high school, would benefit in a merger from increased course offerings, the report found.
“High school course offerings show a solid academic program for students from both Crown Point and Ticonderoga,” the report reads. “However, Ticonderoga, being larger, has more sections of many courses than Crown Point. Each district has some unique offerings that would benefit students in the other district (i.e., calculus and statistics for college credit in Crown Point; Ticonderoga offers French in addition to Spanish and offers college credit in both languages as well as AP courses).
“In a merged district, it would be possible to offer all high school courses currently available in both districts and reduce some staff positions, while maintaining reasonable (maximum of 25 students) class sizes,” the report said. “In addition to offering all of the courses currently available in both high schools and keeping maximum class sizes at 25, a merged high school would have the opportunity to offer even more elective courses.”
The same is true of interscholastic athletics and extracurricular activities, according to the report.
“Secondary students in both districts have a solid array of interscholastic and extra-curricular activities from which to choose,” the report reads. “There are some unique offerings in each district that, following a merger, could be offered to students of the previous other district.”
Crown Point now offers cheerleading and boys soccer, which Ti does not. Ticonderoga offers boys and girls cross country, boys and girls indoor and outdoor track, football and bowling, which Crown Point does not. Ticonderoga also offers junior varsity competition, which Crown Point does not.
“The merging of inter-scholastic athletic programs in a merged school district is an activity that is often met with mixed emotions,” the report states. “On the positive side, economies can be realized through the elimination of duplicate coaching positions as sports teams are consolidated. In addition, there are often opportunities to create additional sports teams in which the students can participate. In particular, it is noted that there are no junior varsity teams in Crown Point in the traditional sports of baseball, basketball, soccer and softball. On the other hand, the competition for the students to compete on a meaningful basis also increases.”
A merger would eliminate several positions. There would be a single superintendent, business manager, special education chair, athletic director, building and grounds head, transportation director and more. There would be fewer principals and support staff. Those cuts would save more than $200,000, according to the report.
Teachers would not be cut in a merger. Both districts have clauses in their contracts that preclude layoffs in the event of a merger. Over time, though, there would be fewer teaching positions through attrition.