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District Consolidation Study

Community Budget Forum: Our shared vision for a Glens Falls education

February 6, 2013 -- Residents of Glens Falls City Schools and Abraham Wing heard about multiple factors affecting the school budget for 2013-14 as they came together at Crandall Library Wednesday, February 6, 2013, to discuss their priorities for Glens Falls’ educational program.

“It’s not us versus them,” said Superintendent Paul Jenkins as he outlined current program offerings and fiscal challenges in a PRESENTATION to the group. “My feeling really is that we’re in this together. This is one school district because our students graduate from one school,” he continued.

The presentation began by highlighting current program offerings at the Glens Falls elementary, middle and high school levels. “The one thing I think is extremely important for us to think about is right now, even though we have two school districts in one city, every student, whether they’re in Abe Wing or whether they’re in Glens Falls City School District, comes through the Glens Falls City Schools starting in seventh grade,” Mr. Jenkins said. “They graduate from our school, so they’re our students. This [budget] is something that’s going to affect students in Abe Wing and Glens Falls no matter what.”

Glens Falls is developing two preliminary budget proposals until March 13, when voters in Abraham Wing will decide on whether or not to consolidate with the city school district. Residents got a look at estimated expenditures under a $42.7 million “Budget A” for a consolidated school district with no cuts to staffing or programs, and a $40.1 million “rollover” “Budget B” for Glens Falls City Schools alone. Mr. Jenkins stressed that the budget expenditure outlines were simplified and preliminary.

A consolidated district would receive more than $27 million in additional state aid over 14 years, including $2.8 million extra for the 2013-14 school year.

“We know that with a consolidation, the tax rate for Abe Wing would increase,” said Mr. Jenkins. “And using some of that consolidation aid would help to stabilize that, or to lower that. It would also help to preserve some of the programs we have.”

Mr. Jenkins discussed estimated true value tax rates under a consolidation scenario. Using half of the consolidation incentive aid to lower the tax levy could result in a city-wide tax rate of 15.08 per thousand, according to the example figures. Abraham Wing’s current true value tax rate in the example is 12.46 per thousand, while Glens Falls’ is 16.81 per thousand.

“That would be a decrease city-wide, and there would be long-lasting effects for the city as a whole, not just the school district, not just the residents,” said Mr. Jenkins. “If we’re talking about bringing in businesses, trying to attract new homeowners, a true value tax rate that is lower that what it currently is will attract businesses and residents.”

Suit challenging Finch value allocation
Tax rates could also be affected by the outcome of a city school district lawsuit challenging the allocation of assessed value on a parcel of Finch Pruyn property shared between the two districts. One slide in the presentation used example figures that illustrated the shift of assessed value and corresponding tax revenue that could occur if two-thirds of the value is given to Glens Falls, as the suit seeks.

“If there’s a question regarding the allocation of any piece of property, we have to look into it,” said Mr. Jenkins in describing why the district filed suit. “To me, $7.5 million versus $26 million in inequitable,” he continued, referring to the current allocation of the parcel in question. “And my question is ‘why?’”

State aid revenues flat or declining
The presentation also showed anticipated changes in state education aid taken from Governor Cuomo’s  Executive Budget Proposal. Under the Governor’s proposal, Glens Falls would see an $18,000 increase in aid for 2013-14, while Abraham Wing would take a $56,000 cut. “If we get cuts in aid, the only way to replace that revenue is to cut programs or to raise taxes.”

“We’re looking at increased expenses and decreased revenues,” said Mr. Jenkins. Increases in health insurance rates, salaries, and retirement contributions are some of the biggest factors driving up expenses, said Mr. Jenkins.

“And that’s the law,” Mr. Jenkins said, referring to the required payments into the Employees Retirement System and Teachers Retirement System. “That was done by the lawmakers. It wasn’t done by the superintendents, it wasn’t done by the principals, and it wasn’t done by the teachers.”

New York State lawmakers also recently passed a property tax levy cap that limits the amount of revenue a district can generate through local property taxes. The presentation estimated Glens Falls’ property tax levy cap to be 3.25% for next year, representing the maximum amount the district could increase its overall levy.

“When we’re talking about the expenses versus the revenues, there aren’t a lot of areas for us to make changes without cutting into some of our programs,” Mr. Jenkins said, as the presentation ended and small group discussions began about which programs residents value the most.

Feedback provided through the small group discussions will be complied into a report for the board of education to use throughout budget development. Residents who didn’t attend the forum, but would like to contribute their thoughts and priorities can SUBMIT COMMENTS THROUGH THIS ONLINE FEEDBACK FORM, which is identical to the WORKSHEET forum participants used Wednesday night. Other presentation materials are available on the BUDGET DEVELOPMENT PAGE of the district’s website.

The next budget development meeting is Thursday, February 28 at 7 p.m. in the district office. Residents city-wide are encouraged to attend.


Final consolidation study report presented December 11 to a joint meeting of Abraham Wing and Glens Falls school boards


December 11, 2012 -- Education consultants presented their final report on the feasibility of an Abraham Wing-Glens Falls consolidation at a joint meeting of both school boards December 11th at Abraham Wing school. READ THE FINAL REPORT HERE



Draft consolidation study report presented to advisory committee

Photo of Chris Reed presenting 5th and 6th grade programs to advisory committeeVIEW THE COMPLETE DRAFT REPORT HERE

October 18, 2012 -- Members of the Glens Falls-Abraham Wing community advisory committee got the first look at a draft report on district consolidation this week, the result of a six-month-long study on the feasibility of combining the two school districts.

“It is not our job to recommend consolidating or not,” said education consultant Alan Pole at the fifth and final meeting of the advisory committee on Wednesday night. “The purpose of this report is to paint a picture of what these two districts look like today, and what they could look like in the future, under a consolidation,” he continued.

Each advisory committee member has a copy of the 75-page draft report, which will be edited, finalized, and returned to both districts’ boards of education within the next two weeks. Mr. Pole and his colleagues, Bill Silky, and Jessica Cohen explained the report’s key findings and recommendations as advisory committee members asked questions and offered comments Wednesday night.

The group spent time discussing each community’s tax rate under a consolidation, as one of the report’s recommendations is for the Glens Falls Board of Education to “apply enough of the new incentive operating aid in the first five years of the merger to lower the tax rate for current residents of the city district, while keeping the increase in taxes for current Abe Wing residents at an acceptable level.” Consultants pointed out that while a consolidated district stands to gain nearly $27 million in additional state aid over 14 years, each annual installment of that aid would not be enough to prevent a tax increase for residents of Abe Wing. Only a range of tax rates can be estimated right now, since the Glens Falls board of education would decide how much incentive aid would go towards lowering tax rates as part of the budget development process, consultants said.

“Our plan is to outline two preliminary versions of the 2013-14 budget, and discuss them throughout the early spring,” said Superintendent Paul Jenkins. “’Budget A’ would be a proposal for the district as it is configured now. ‘Budget B’ would be for a consolidated district, and would allow our board to discuss a number of decisions while factoring in the additional state aid, other expenses, and the cost-savings we could achieve.”

Committee members also reviewed the statement of assurances developed by the Glens Falls Board of Education. A question arose on the assurance that the Abraham Wing building would stay open as an elementary school for a minimum of three years following a consolidation. “The intent is to keep the building open as a K-4 elementary school, even if that wasn’t clear in the language of the assurance,” said Mr. Jenkins. “That would be consistent with the consultants’ recommendation as well,” he continued.

“There’s an element of trust in this,” Dr. Silky said during the presentation. “Members of the boards of education usually have goodwill for their communities, and truly want the best for their youngsters.”

“If a consolidation is going to work for the children of these districts, then the adults have to find a way to make it smooth,” Mr. Pole added.

Key recommendations in the report are as follows:
  1. A merged district should annually update enrollment projections to accurately monitor the impact of an increasing or decreasing student base.
  2. Following a consolidation, the Abe Wing Elementary School should adopt the same daily schedule for both students and staff as exists in the other Glens Falls elementary schools.
  3. Should the merger occur, initially the elementary attendance areas should remain as at present.  However, over time if K-4 class sizes tend to vary widely thus resulting in inequitable teacher-to-student ratios, the consolidated district should consider redistricting the attendance areas to achieve more balanced enrollments in their elementary school buildings.
  4. If the districts merge, the current instructional programs now being used by teachers in each district should continue to be used.  However, within a reasonable timeframe (approximately three years), the teachers in all the elementary schools (including Abraham Wing) should be provided with the same instructional materials for use with students. In addition, the curriculum offered to elementary school students across the consolidated district should be essentially the same.
  5. Following a consolidation, the K-4 special area schedules (amount of time and intensity per week) should be the same across all elementary schools including Abraham Wing.
  6. Following a merger, close review should be conducted for at least three years to ensure that there continues to be little difference in elementary student achievement regardless of the previous district students attended (disaggregate the data by previous district/elementary school attended).
  7. Once merged, the Glens Falls Board of Education should appoint a member of the Abraham Wing district’s current Committee on Special Education and Pre-School Committee on Special Education to join the Glens Falls’ committee.  This will provide a representative that knows the special needs students still attending the Abraham Wing building.  This arrangement should last for at least five years until all the youngsters have aged-up.
  8. Following a consolidation, the Abraham Wing building should remain as an elementary school housing grades K-4 for the foreseeable future.  Grades 5 and 6 that are currently housed in Abraham Wing will be relocated to the Glens Falls Middle School thus making all the elementary schools in the merged district K-4 buildings.
  9. Following merger, the Glens Falls Board of Education’s current policy governing community use of facilities should govern all schools, including the Abraham Wing building.
  10. Because there is very little transportation of students to and from school in either district, there should be no transportation issues following a consolidation of the districts.  However, it is our recommendation that the existing Board policies that govern transportation in Glens Falls City School District apply equally to the students attending Abe Wing following a merger.
  11. As soon as possible following a merger, the Glens Falls personnel department should review the personnel files of the teachers from Abe Wing to accurately place them on the Glens Falls salary schedule.
  12. A principal will be needed to administer the Abe Wing school as a K – 4 building. The current superintendent of Abe Wing should become the principal of the Abe Wing Elementary School.
  13. As soon as possible following a merger, the Glens Falls personnel department should determine the civil service status of all of the support staff from Abe Wing and determine the appropriate bargaining unit placement, correct salary level, and appropriate seniority status for any Abe Wing staff who will become employed in the consolidated school district.
  14. Following consolidation, the Glens Falls Board of Education should apply enough of the new incentive operating aid in the first five years of the merger to lower the tax rate for current residents of the city district, while keeping the increase in taxes for current Abe Wing residents at an acceptable level.
The finalized report will be presented to a joint meeting of the Abraham Wing and Glens Falls boards of education on December 12. View the POWERPOINT PRESENTATION AND HANDOUT MATERIALS HERE from the consolidation study draft report presented on Wednesday, October 17, 2012.

Advisory committee discusses tax implications and economic impact of consolidation


Photo of consultants sharing dataSeptember 13, 2012 -- The tax implications of a consolidation were discussed at length on Wednesday night, as community members from Abraham Wing and Glens Falls City School districts met for the fourth time to analyze data collected by education consultants studying a possible district unification.

A consolidated district would get an additional $27 million in incentive operating aid, over and above what New York State currently provides in education funding for each district. “The merged district gets 40 percent more than the operating aid each district received in the 2006-07 school year,” said consultant Bill Silky, referring to the year upon which the state’s education funding formula is based. “This is the big carrot from the state,” he continued.

If all of that incentive aid was put towards lowering taxes—and the consolidated district achieved a conservative amount of cost-saving efficiencies—consultants say the true tax rate for the merged district would have been $14.52 per thousand dollars of full value, based on the 2011-12 tax rates. The actual tax rate in Glens Falls was $16.81, which would have meant a 12.6 percent decrease, said Dr. Silky. The actual tax rate in Abraham Wing was $12.46, which would have been an 18.4 percent tax increase, he continued.

During the consultants’ first tax rate presentation in August, they calculated a possible 24 percent tax rate increase for residents of Abraham Wing, and a simultaneous 8.1 percent tax rate decrease for residents of Glens Falls. Those tax rate projections assume that the consolidated district would use one-third of its incentive aid to decrease the local tax levy.

The use of incentive aid is one of many variables that make it difficult to predict the real shift in tax rates for Glens Falls and Abraham Wing residents, the consultants said Wednesday. “Right now, we don’t know what the board of education would decide to do,” said Glens Falls Superintendent Paul Jenkins.

Certain assurances on other matters such as student programming and blending of the two districts’ faculty are now being finalized by the Glens Falls school board. Board members have been discussing a list of assurance requests from Abraham Wing, and are very close to approving the final guarantees of what would happen under a consolidation.

The finalized statement of assurances will factor heavily into the consultants’ final report and recommendations, which are scheduled to be complete in early October.

Taxable assessed values and businesses

The consultants’ presentation sparked a lengthy discussion about the tax rates and assessed values of commercial properties in the city—particularly the Finch Paper company, which pays more than three-quarters of its total school taxes to Abraham Wing. The remaining portion of Finch Paper’s school tax payment goes to Glens Falls City Schools, as the district boundary line cuts through the company’s plant on the city’s east end.

“There are some serious questions as to the allocation of those school taxes,” said advisory committee member and former Glens Falls board of education member Todd Feigenbaum. “Finch’s taxable assessed value is nearly $50 million for Abraham Wing and about $7 million for Glens Falls,” Dr. Feigenbaum continued. “If $10 million of value moved across the boundary line, that would be a significant reduction for Abe Wing.”

Consultant Alan Pole said residents can make their consolidation decision based on current conditions, or they can look to the future. “Looking ahead, there could be an assessment allocation change, Finch could challenge its assessment, or the plant could close,” said Mr. Pole. “The conversation here is that if there’s a change, things will change significantly.”

“Each of those possibilities would be future budgetary considerations for both districts,” said Mr. Jenkins.

Committee members also discussed the economic boost of $27 million in incentive aid on entire city of Glens Falls. “That kind of stimulus immediately reduces the overall burden of tax across the whole city,” said Dr. Feigenbaum. “There’s a multiplier effect on all of our property values, residential and commercial development, jobs.”

Consultants plan to circulate their draft report and recommendations at the next meeting of the consolidation advisory committee, scheduled for Wednesday, October 17 at the Glens Falls Middle School. At 5:45 p.m., Principal Chris Reed will give an overview of the Grades 5-6 program, at the request of the advisory committee. The business portion of the meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. Archived presentations and committee materials are available online at www.gfsd.org.


LIST OF ASSURANCES REQUESTED BY ABRAHAM WING
in Board correspondence, discussed at Glens Falls City School Board of Education meeting of Augst 13, 2012.

September 12, 2012 -- The Abraham Wing-Glens Falls joint consolidation study committee met again on Wednesday, September 12, for the fourth time in a series of meetings designed to investigate and comment on financial data from both school districts. The committee’s work is ahead of an independent consultant’s report on potential benefits and/or drawbacks to combining Glens Falls City School District with Abraham Wing.

View the
FINANCIAL DATA ANALYSIS PRESENTATION HERE. Meeting notes are being compiled and will be posted here soon.

Preliminary analysis: Consolidation could increase Abraham Wing tax rate by as much as 24%, decrease Glens Falls tax rate by 8.1%
Analysis assumes using one-third of the $27 million in additional incentive aid for tax reduction

August 8, 2012—A district consolidation could mean as much as a 24% tax rate increase for residents of Abraham Wing, and a simultaneous 8.1% tax rate decrease for residents of Glens Falls, according to the first part of an analysis presented by the educational consultants exploring the feasibility of a school district merger. The tax rate projections assume that the consolidated district would use one-third of its incentive aid to decrease the local tax levy.

“The tax rates outlined tonight are based on an incomplete model,” said consultant Bill Silky. “At September’s meeting we will have a more complete data set and a better estimate of how efficiencies could impact local taxes.”

“The only fair way to compare tax rates from one school district to another is to use the tax rates on true value,” said Dr. Silky as he explained the analysis. “The current true value tax rate for a merged district would be $16.16 per thousand dollars of home value. Consolidating and then using 33 percent of the incentive operating aid to reduce taxes would bring the tax rate in the merged district to $15.45 per thousand.”

The current tax rate in Abraham Wing is $12.46, while the current tax rate in Glens Falls is $16.81, Dr. Silky continued. That translates into an increase of $2.99 per thousand—or 24%—in Abraham Wing, and a decrease of $1.36 per thousand—or 8.1%—in Glens Falls, according to the analysis.

When school districts consolidate, it is generally recommended that the merged district use the incentive operating aid for three general purposes, applying about the same amount of money to each, explained Dr. Silky. A merged district could spend equal amounts of aid on maintenance and enhancement of educational programs, which includes the cost of transitioning staff salaries and benefits, strengthening reserve accounts to ensure long-term financial stability, and reducing taxes by decreasing the local tax levy. “Of course, these are recommendations,” said Dr. Silky. “It would be up to the Board of Education to determine exactly how the incentive aid is spent.” A consolidated district would receive $27 million in incentive aid over and above its current state funding. The aid would be distributed over a period of 15 years.

The meeting focused on the districts’ staffing and contracts, along with the preliminary tax rate analysis. (PRESENTATION SLIDES CAN BE VIEWED IN FULL HERE and at www.abewing.org.) Dr. Silky, with colleagues Alan Pole and Jessica Cohen, pointed to several sets of data in making key points:
  • Teacher contract comparisons show that Glens Falls pays 83.5% of the health insurance premium for individual or family plans, while Abraham Wing pays 75% of the premium for unit members participating. Glens Falls pays 100% of dental premiums for individuals and 70% for dependents, while Abraham Wing pays 80% for individuals and 50% for family.
  • Course reimbursement rates and stipends for advanced degrees and certifications differ in each district. Glens Falls’ course reimbursement rate is nearly three times that of Abraham Wing’s, at $100 per credit hour in an area of certification. Abraham Wing teachers earn $500 for each advanced degree they hold, while Glens Falls teachers earn a yearly stipend of $2,634 once they have passed the National Board Certification Exam. Teaching loads and planning period requirements also differ between the two contracts.
  • The average teacher salary at Glens Falls is $57,414, when dividing the teacher payroll of $11,040,757 by the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) teachers, reported at 192.3. The average teacher salary at Abraham Wing is $50,487, when dividing the teacher payroll of $1,018,816 by the number of FTE teachers, at 19.1. “Leveling up” the salaries and benefits of Abraham Wing teachers under a consolidation would cost $207,794, according to this preliminary analysis.
  • Potential staffing changes under a consolidation could include a reduction of 1.5 FTE support staff, calculated to be a $35,896 savings, said Ms. Cohen.
  • Data analysis shows that residents of both districts historically support the school budgets, unassigned fund balances for both districts “are healthy,” and the districts’ approved operating expenses, per student, have been quite similar—$14,500 for Glens Falls and $13,081 for Abraham Wing in 2011-12.
  • Glens Falls receives “considerably more state aid overall, and on a per-pupil basis,” according to the analysis. “Abraham Wing has less property wealth overall, but the property wealth behind each student is twice that of Glens Falls City,” said Dr. Silky. “Property taxes raised in Glens Falls are nearly nine times those raised in Abraham Wing, but the Abe Wing taxpayers contributed much more to the district on a per-pupil basis.”
The draft consolidation feasibility report is now expected in mid-October, with finalization occurring in November. The Abraham Wing and Glens Falls City Schools boards of education are currently working on developing a statement of assurances under a potential consolidation, which would help frame the final report.

The next meeting of the consolidation advisory committee will be held on Wednesday, September 12, at 6:30 p.m. at Kensington Road Elementary School, 43 Kensington Road. Agenda topics include completion of the financial analysis and review of the statement of assurances. For more information or details on earlier meetings within the study process, go to www.gfsd.org and www.abewing.org.


Consolidation feasibility report targeted to be released in September;
will recommend that Abe Wing building remain open

Statement of assurances expected to be developed within weeks

July 13, 2012— The draft report on feasibility of a Abraham Wing-Glens Falls consolidation should now be ready in mid-September, and will include the recommendation that Abe Wing stay open as one of the consolidated district’s elementary schools. Education consultant Dr. Bill Silky made those announcements Wednesday at the second meeting of the community advisory committee assisting the consultants with their analysis.

The 20-person group, which is made up of ten community members and staff representing each district, is providing context and comment on research being performed by educational consulting firm Castallo & Silky on whether or not a consolidation of Glens Falls City and Common (Abraham Wing) school districts should be considered.
The draft report is now expected in mid-September, with finalization occurring in November. The Abraham Wing and Glens Falls City Schools boards of education are currently working on developing a statement of assurances under a potential consolidation, which would help frame the final report.

“This is primarily an elementary school study, by nature of the fact that Abraham Wing students are already part of the Glens Falls City School system once they go to the middle school in seventh grade,” said Dr. Silky as he explained that the state Education Department requires several areas of analysis in any consolidation study. As such, some of the topics can be collapsed into fewer meetings, he continued.

Wednesday’s meeting focused on the districts’ elementary programs, student achievement, transportation, facilities, and special education philosophies. View the ELEMENTARY PROGRAM AND FACILITIES PRESENTATION HERE. View the JULY 11 MEETING NOTES HERE. Dr. Silky, with colleagues Alan Pole and Jessica Cohen, pointed to several sets of data in making key points:
  • Enrollment at both districts is viewed as relatively stable. A consolidated district would likely see a slight, gradual enrollment increase over several years.
  • Curriculum differences exist between the districts (i.e. textbooks, literacy programs, science materials), and the frequency of “special” classes in art, music, physical education and library/technology differs between a six-day rotation at Glens Falls and a five-day rotation at Abe Wing.
  • Elementary student achievement on state English Language Arts and math exams is largely similar for both districts. “We didn’t see any consistent pattern where youngsters in one district scored significantly differently on state exams year to year, over time,” said Dr. Silky. “While curriculums may be different, student achievement is not.”
  • Both districts’ philosophy on special education is similar, in that both prefer educating identified students in their home districts whenever possible, rather than sending them to alternative programs.
  • Glens Falls City Schools’ fleet of buses (used to transport students with special needs or student-athletes and field trip participants to district-sponsored events) “is in excellent shape,” said Dr. Silky. “The City School District has been very prudent in its replacement cycle, and runs it as any well-managed district would,” said Mr. Pole. This removes any potential concern over a combined district assuming assets that need immediate replacement, Mr. Pole continued.
  • A space analysis of each elementary building shows that closing Abraham Wing and moving those students into the three existing Glens Falls elementary buildings is “not feasible, even if it were desirable,” said Dr. Silky. Beyond physical space constraints, class sizes under that scenario would increase to beyond what either district is accustomed, said Dr. Silky.
A statement of assurances under a consolidation scenario will be finalized by the Glens Falls City Schools board of education, after its review of the Abraham Wing school board’s requested items. The Abraham Wing school board is expected to discuss its’ assurances in mid-July or August.

The next meeting of the consolidation advisory committee will be held on Wednesday, August 8, at 6:30 p.m. at Abraham Wing School. Meeting topics have been adjusted, and will now include a review of staffing, contracts and finances for both districts. For more information or details on earlier meetings within the study process, go to THE CONSOLIDATION STUDY HOME PAGE.



Joint consolidation feasibility study committee continues its work

The Abraham Wing-Glens Falls joint consolidation study committee meets again on Wednesday, August 8, at 6:30 p.m. at Abraham Wing School (with an optional building tour for committee members and the public beginning at 5:45 p.m.). This will be the third of a series of meetings designed to investigate and comment on data sets from both school districts. The committee’s work is ahead of an independent consultant’s report on potential benefits and/or drawbacks to combining Glens Falls City School District with Abraham Wing.

At the second meeting on July 11, consultants Bill Silky and Alan Pole presented data on the district's elementary programs, testing scores, facilities, special education philosophy and transportation. View the ELEMENTARY PROGRAM AND FACILITIES PRESENTATION HERE. Meeting notes are being compiled and will be posted here soon.

During the first meeting on June 13, consultants Bill Silky and Alan Pole gave an overview of the study process and began with data sets on both districts’ enrollment—including projections through 2019. Meeting notes from June 13 ARE AVAILABLE HERE. View the STUDY OVERVIEW AND ENROLLMENT DATA PRESENTATION HERE.
YNN also produced a news story on the first meeting, which can be viewed HERE.



News from:
Glens Falls Common School District • Glens Falls City School District

For more information, contact: Ella Collins and Paul Jenkins, Superintendents 518-792-3231 and 518-792-1212

Joint meeting between Abraham Wing and Glens Falls City School Board members begins district consolidation feasibility study
Members sought by both districts for advisory committee


May 10, 2012—Board of Education members from Glens Falls Common and Glens Falls City School Districts met on Monday, May 7 to hear from independent consultants retained to carry out a consolidation study for the districts—a meeting that essentially began a 10-month process to examine potential benefits and drawbacks to a possible merger between the districts.

Dr. William Silky, of the educational consulting firm Castallo & Silky, briefed board members on what the community can expect from the consolidation study. The ultimate goal is to produce a report for educational leaders and the community to use in determining whether or not a consolidation is right for the districts, he said. To arrive at their recommendations, the consultants will facilitate a 20-member school/community advisory committee that helps review data on enrollments, curriculum, facilities, transportation, staffing and finances. “The study process is designed to discover what will make the most fiscal and educational sense for the children of this community,” Dr. Silky said.

Each board of education will appoint 10 members to the school/community advisory committee: six community members (parents, retirees, business leaders, etc.); two teachers; one school administrator; and one school support staff member. Neither the superintendents nor the members of the boards of education sit on the advisory committee, although they are encouraged—along with all city residents—to attend each advisory committee meeting to hear the discussion and offer comments during a public participation segment. The tentative meeting schedule is as follows:
  • Wednesday, June 13: Orientation to the consolidation study; Enrollment data review
  • Wednesday, July 11: Academic, Instructional and Program review
  • Wednesday, August 8: Facilities and Transportation review
  • Wednesday, September 12: Staffing and Personnel review
  • Wednesday, October 17: Financial review
  • Wednesday, November 14: Advisory committee review of draft report
Meetings will be held at 6:30 p.m. and will rotate their location between Abraham Wing school and various schools within Glens Falls City School District. Materials from each meeting will be posted online and provided to the community as the process unfolds.

Anyone interested in being appointed to the advisory committee should contact their district office before Friday, June 1: 792-3231 for Abraham Wing, and 792-1212 for Glens Falls City Schools. Each board of education will select its advisory committee members from the pool of applications by June 6. Interested applicants must be able to attend each scheduled meeting.

The PRESENTATION FROM THE MAY 7 MEETING and additional background material is available at www.gfsd.org and http://abewing.k12.ny.us.
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