April 25, 2014

Editorial: Shared services worth weighing

Parents and taxpayers in several area school districts should offer up heartfelt thanks that their education officials are getting their heads together to try to find ways to consolidate services for the benefit of the students — and maybe even to save some money in the process.

If two or more school districts can accomplish the same tasks together, instead of separately, it ought to be able to be done better and likely at less cost.

The saving of money might not be as dramatic as it may seem on the surface. It might be natural to assume, for example, that having one superintendent instead of two would automatically save at least one salary, which typically runs into six figures.

However, anyone who would take on twice as many students, twice as many employees and twice as many after-hours meetings — and at least twice as many headaches — would certainly deserve additional compensation.

The concept is already working smoothly in two local districts; St. Regis Falls Central School and Brushton-Moira Central School share a superintendent. Other area districts share business managers.

Champlain Valley Educational Services Superintendent Dr. Mark Davey recently addressed a meeting of the Westport Central School Board on the topic, encouraging members to think seriously about joining with other districts, in whole or in part.

He discussed some of the benefits of collaboration: curriculum efficiency and training, shared memberships in organizations, health-insurance collective bargaining, a joint special-education committee and a shared bus mechanic, cafeteria services and district treasurer.

Those should be reasons enough for any districts in close-enough proximity and with much more in common to pursue the possibility.

According to officials quoted in our story on the meeting last Thursday, Westport, Elizabethtown-Lewis, Willsboro and Keene have at least considered ways to consolidate offerings for the betterment of each district.

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