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Districts fearing large-scale school district mergers in light of shrinking school budgets

Dec 22, 2010 6:55 am
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Hunter Tannersville Central Schools are among several of the region's districts looking at potential mergers as a means of overcoming the current economic climate, which seems to be pusing for greater consolidations in the name of greater efficiencies."][/caption]The effects of dissatisfied taxpayers, shrinking federal and state aid to local school districts, and the increasingly serious threat of a two percent property tax cap have seen local school districts, from Kinderhook in Columbia County to Hunter-Tannersville on Greene County's Mountaintop, starting to look into drastic, large-scale mergers... with some prompting now from the state Boards of Cooperative Education Services, the statewide entity of 37 educational regions around the state set up to improve educational efficiency in the state in the late 1940s. Now, as regional BOCES (known as Questar III here in Columbia, Greene and Rensselaer counties) look into greater efficiencies to make it through the financing web ahead, where mandated budget increases are looking to outpace any property tax cap put in place (as has happened in neighboring New Jersey this year), local boards of education are starting to rear back and wonder about issues such as home rule, long bus rides, and empty school buildings in their midst. Today's Daily Mail has a story about the growing concerns at HTC, which serves a rural population and is being discussed in terms of a merger with schools in neighboring Delaware and Schoharie counties. Which dovetails with stories in the Register Star over the last month about budget concerns in Kinderhook, where a merger between the Ichabod Crane and Schodack central districts has been talked about, and even today's Daily Freeman piece about an old school building in the city of Kingston burning to the ground last night. Keep an eye on this issue over the coming year, folks... Continue HERE or HERE...