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School districts ready for collaboration survey

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The Thousand Islands Central School District doesn’t like to waste any time.

While most school districts in Jefferson and Lewis counties will wait until month’s end or early October to post a regional collaboration survey on their websites, the Thousand Islands Board of Education wanted to give district residents an opportunity to review and answer survey questions as soon as possible.

At just over a week into the school year, the district has provided surveys at open house events and in the district newsletter, said Superintendent Frank C. House.

“We’ve gotten back probably about 20 or 30 surveys,” Mr. House said. “Everyone wants to save on taxes, but as far as merging, they’re mixed.”

In order for districts to participate in the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services survey, they must pay $500.

General Brown Central School District Superintendent Cammy J. Morrison said that for that small amount of money, General Brown would “get some good information.”

“St. Lawrence County did some surveys to look at how many districts would like to maybe have a regional high school,” Mrs. Morrison said.

“It was quite popular in St. Lawrence County. Certainly the survey, whether we conduct it, is up to the Board of Education. At a superintendents’ meeting, there appeared to be a great deal of interest in conducting the survey in districts,” she said.

Board President Jeffrey West said that with General Brown’s proximity to other schools, that might be a good idea.

No action was taken on the matter during the General Brown board’s monthly meeting Monday at the junior-senior high school, 17643 Cemetery Road, Dexter.

Meanwhile, BOCES Superintendent Jack J. Boak Jr. said this survey is something local superintendents have been talking about for quite some time. Its purpose is to find out how communities feel about regional high schools or neighboring school districts sharing athletic teams and transportation.

The survey will have about eight questions about consolidation and follow-up questions on the respondent’s demographics.

Mr. Boak said people will have the month of October to fill out the survey, if their district participates.

BOCES then will receive help from the Center for Community Studies at Jefferson Community College to analyze data and compile findings.

Districts then would be expected to post survey results on their websites sometime in November, Mr. Boak said.

“We want to see trends regionally,” he said.

He said he expects 15 or 16 of BOCES’s 18 component school districts to participate in the survey.

Districts that pay to participate in the survey will receive some aid, as Mr. Boak said the state Education Department “encourages districts to share and save money, so they’d get aid on this exercise.”

Mr. Boak said he didn’t think it was appropriate for districts to go forward with an expensive merger study without asking the community first if that’s something it wants.

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