A Place To Call Home

WESTFIELD – Gary Planty, a representative from the Brocton Central School District, had his homework attached with two colored paperclips.

One was green, Brocton’s color, and the other blue, Westfield’s.

“I wasn’t sure which paperclip to use,” he said, “so I decided to use both.”

Planty’s quip represented the dilemma the committee members and the larger community faces if it approves a merger – how to keep as many of the good things as possible, save money and forge a new identity.

The district advisory committee looking into the possibility of the centralization of the Brocton and Westfield school districts met recently after board members from the Brocton and Westfield school boards met jointly.

It was the fifth and final meeting for the committee of 24 – 12 from each district. Meetings have alternated between districts. Seven members of Brocton’s representatives and 10 of Westfield’s attended the last meeting.

This was the meeting for each committee member to turn in homework. All members were asked to answer the question of whether the districts should merge from their own informed views. Following that, they were asked to provide more technical recommendations including: administrative staff configuration, student/teacher ratios for the various grade levels as well as maximums and minimums for high school classes, the building configuration, busing runs, uses for buildings that might be closed and the impact of the plan on each community.

There were four different recommendations for building configuration.

Five people recommended two elementary schools, a middle school and a high school. This group thought most people would prefer their children stay closer to home.

Seven people favored one elementary school for children in kindergarten through sixth grades, and one middle/high school. This group argued the new district would foster a “we are one” mentality from the beginning. They also pointed out that the seventh- and eighth-grade students would be better served if they were able to take advanced work and play on teams with the high school.

Beth Jagoda from Brocton, who has two young children, was among the people who favored one elementary school.

She thought the elementary school would not be that far no matter where it was.

“I want my children to have a good education,” she said.

But those weren’t the only views.

Four people favored one building. This group argued it would save the most money, and would really foster a “we are one” mentality.

Maria Resnick’s configuration was one building housing kindergarten through eighth grades and one building ninth through 12th grades. Resnick presented an optimistic picture.

“Both communities can and will grow,” she said.

She said the one building configuration would foster involvement by the both communities.

Before closing the meeting, consultant Marilyn Kurzawa asked what items were important for the community to understand. Items have been posted on each district’s website. One member offered, “The more people know, the better.”

Another thought the budget projections should be shared on the website.

Larry McFadden summed it up, “The overall theme is we want the merger.”

The next step is for the consultant group to review all the information and write the final report, which is due to the state on Feb. 15.