WESTPORT — Superintendents and school boards from Elizabethtown-Lewis and Westport central schools held a joint forum to explore shared services.
In addition to Westport Central Superintendent John Gallagher and ELCS Superintendent Scott Osborne, Champlain Valley Educational Services District Superintendent Mark Davey was present to provide insight to board members and about 25 attendees.
Gallagher, who has been at the helm at Westport as a part-time superintendent since 2008, said: “We have had serious discussions and have had opportunities to share.”
“Each district has its story," Osborne said in his opening remarks. "...It’s our due diligence to look at the whole picture.”
NO MERGER TALK
It was emphasized several times during the meeting that the schools were discussing shared services only, not a merger, though Gallagher said that might be considered, at some point.
In 2013, six school mergers were attempted in New York state, but none passed in referendums. Davey noted that mergers require the closing of one or more of the schools.
ASSESSING WHAT THEY HAVE
Osborne indicated that both schools have similar logistical challenges, such as declining enrollment, dealing with the state tax cap and the governor’s property-tax freeze.
At last fall's count, Westport registered 230 students, while ELCS had 258.
Gallagher discussed commonalities such as the recently coordinated bell schedule, similar master schedules and that both schools have pulled their lunch programs out of the red.
“We are still looking at shared course offerings and advanced placement classes,” said Gallagher.
Westport and Elizabethtown-Lewis already share a business officer, as well as professional development and test scoring through the auspices of BOCES.
There are also itinerant services, such as school psychologists and music teachers, that have been part time at participating facilities.
Both schools utilize the School Tool student data system, have a shared CVES labor-relations specialist and independent auditor and have the same state inspector for their vehicles.