Four districts agree to apply for local government efficiency grant
After much contemplation over the matter, the four boards decided to apply for the local government efficiency grant program from NYS and have Cheektowaga Central be the lead agent on the project. The schools are applying for a $100,000 grant to find out whether or not a consolidation or merger would be cost savings effective for the districts and the town.
If approved, each district would have to put in a 10 percent share of their own towards the funding but Town of Cheektowaga Councilwoman Angela Wozniak, who proposed the resolution requesting the districts to seek funding, said the share is a small amount compared to the savings the districts could potentially obtain.
“It’s the total of $10,000 that the four of them would have to come up with but the potential in savings is definitely worth what they can achieve for this,” said Wozniak.
The districts invited Dr. Rick Timbs, Executive Director of the Statewide School Finance Consortium to the joint school board meeting to discuss the benefits and negatives of merging districts together. He stated that with a merger, taxes are reduced substantially and remain at a very low level for almost a decade. He also stated that educational programs remain constant for nearly five years. On the down side, Timbs believes that with a merger, student achievement does not always change, students have longer bus rides and the effects of cost savings does not last very long.
“At the same time when he was going through his analysis it seemed that a lot of the counties he focused on were way out of the country such as the long bus ride. It’s Cheektowaga, it’s not like kids are traveling 60 miles. I just think some of it wasn’t quite relevant with our four districts and one town,” said Wozniak.
Although the negative discussion did not steer the districts from giving the study a chance as they plan on moving forward in the process with a grant writer. In a recent letter to the four districts Senator Tim Kennedy promises to advocate for the grant funding every step of the way. The application for funding is due March 13.