CROWN POINT — The possibility of a merger between Crown Point and Ticonderoga school districts was killed by Crown Point School Board this week when it voted against sending the measure to voters.
The Crown Point Central School Board voted 7-0 Tuesday night not to hold an advisory referendum on whether the two school districts should consolidate.
The decision followed submission by resident Bette Pertak of a 450-signature petition in opposition to a merger.
“Crown Point community members once again said ‘no’ to a merger, and the School Board acted on this information,” Crown Point School Superintendent Shari Brannock told the Press-Republican.
Many of those at a meeting held last month on a merger feasibility report were critical of the possibility.
The petition reads, in part: “We, the undersigned, request that the Crown Point School Board hear our voices now and say no to a merger with Ticonderoga School. We want our children in our community to continue their education, play sports and graduate as a Crown Point Panther.”
Pertak told the School Board that school staff, administrators and students are doing a fine job, and there is no need for a merger, Brannock said in a news release.
Information gathered from student and staff opinion surveys was also shared with the board, she said, and only a very small number wanted to merge.
An anti-merger petition signed by about 100 students in grades 6 through 12 was also given to the School Board, the superintendent said.
“I am totally against a merger,” former Crown Point School Board member Kenneth LaDeau told the board, according to the media release. “Crown Point Central School is not a bad place.
“The taxpayers are very lucky to have a great building that is the anchor of our community. If the school goes, the town goes.”
A state-funded merger study was conducted earlier this year by Jessica Cohen and Alan Pole of Castallo & Silky, Educational Consultants of Syracuse, assisted by an 18-member Joint School Merger Study Committee representing both districts.
The results of the study, released in November, showed that combining the school districts could be advantageous, especially in an age of declining enrollments.
The study proposed that elementary-age students in Crown Point would still go to school there, but Crown Point middle- and high-school students would be bused to Ticonderoga.
Elementary pupils in Ticonderoga would still attend Ticonderoga Elementary School.
Ticonderoga has 841 students this year, while Crown Point has 256.
Academic opportunities for students would increase with a merger, the study said, with more honors and advanced-placement courses available.
‘HUGS, SMILES, TEARS’
The next step was for both school boards to vote to hold an advisory referendum. If that vote would have been to merge, the state commissioner of education would have set a date for a binding referendum, which would have required a separate majority vote of both districts’ voters.
Anita Johnson, a Crown Point parent and Joint School Merger Study Committee member, commended the Crown Point Board, administration and staff for their work, Brannock said in the release.
“The Crown Point School Board has made serious considerations, sacrifices and hard decisions in the past,” Johnson told the board. “The benefit (of a merger) does not outweigh the risk or loss, and there is no need to vote for a merger.”
Crown Point School Board President Mitch St. Pierre responded to comments and concerns from community members, Brannock said, and agreed with the group who spoke that Crown Point Central School is doing well.
“We (the School Board) want to do the right thing,” St. Pierre said at the meeting.
After the board — St. Pierre, Jacalyn Popp, Julie Budwick, June Glebus, Kathy DeBrobander, Terry Ross, and Morgan Sprague — voted against a merger referendum, the crowd stood up to applaud, Brannock said.
“There were hugs, smiles and tears among the attendees, who thanked the School Board for listening to the school community and saying no to a merger.”
Ticonderoga School Superintendent John McDonald Jr. said Thursday that in light of the Crown Point School Board’s decision, the Ticonderoga School Board won’t vote on whether to hold the advisory referendum.
“There is no reason for the Ti Board to do anything else, since the process has now stopped.”
McDonald said the whole purpose of the process was to explore the feasibility of a merger and how that would impact each community.
“Each community had to make a decision that they felt was in their best interest for their students and community as a whole,” he said.
“The Crown Point Board entered the process with an open mind, received feedback from their constituents and made a decision based on the information they received.
“I respect their position and appreciate their participation over the past year.
“Even though there is not a merger, the process has given us some ideas on how to work together to share services and reduce costs for both schools.”
Email Lohr McKinstry:email@example.com