Cattaraugus-Little Valley Talks Volleyball Merger, 2014-15 Budget Planning

CATTARAUGUS – The Cattaraugus-Little Valley and Ellicottville girls varsity volleyball teams will take the court as one beginning next season.

Last week, the Cattaraugus-Little Valley Board of Education approved a resolution to merge the two teams after being approached with the prospect of combining by the Ellicottville board.

A number of factors played into Ellicottville’s proposal, not the least of which was an impending lack of venue available to host home games. According to Jon Peterson, Cattaraugus-Little Valley superintendent, the two districts reached an agreement that is intended to be mutually beneficial to both.

“It’s a financial stability for us,” Peterson said. “My board had asked me to look for any shared services I can find, so this was a good opportunity. (The districts) will share costs, and it allow us to maintain three levels of volleyball. Both schools still offer modified, but now we’ll have junior varsity and varsity as well.”

Aside from low participation numbers, Peterson said Ellicottville was also faced with the dilemma of having neither a gymnasium nor a coach for the coming year. He said the merger will provide an opportunity for students who would not have had one otherwise.

“It keeps Ellicottville’s volleyball program alive, and provides them with a facility to compete in while they build their new gym,” he said.

As with any sports merger, Peterson said it is inevitable that not everyone would be wholly satisfied with the arrangement.

“I did recently have a meeting with a senior on the team who has mixed emotions about it,” he said. “There are pros and cons, but I’d like to think this was done in the best interest of our kids and our community.”

In other business, the district discussed building its 2014-15 budget around a current gap elimination adjustment amount of $611,016. Peterson said his district is struggling mightily with inadequate state funding, and there is concern that cuts to program offerings and/or staff positions may be imminent if nothing changes on the funding front.

In light of these anticipated cuts, Peterson said the board will be hosting another public forum on the budget in order to get a sense of what can be done to soften the blow.

“Community members really don’t always realize how much of the budget we don’t have control over,” Peterson said, indicating that state aid runs and a listing of unfunded state mandates imposed on the district will be provided to attendees of the forum. “We want to hear from the community about what is important to them and what programs should be preserved at all costs.”

Peterson said the board also reached a decision to forego applying for the Alternative Veterans Exemption for the coming year due to time constraints. The exemption was recently made available to schools on a discretionary basis after being signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in December, and the deadline to apply is March 1.

“We’re not moving forward with it this year, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen at some point,” he said. “The board is not ready to move forward with such a tight deadline, so they’ve charged me with the task of boiling down the data further.”