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School district contemplates seeking funding for consolidation study

BY: Kimberly Snickles, Cheektowaga Source | January 17, 2013

After one Cheektowaga school district opted out of conducting a study on consolidations and mergers, another is still contemplating whether or not they would like to pursue one.

“Well the legislators did not come through with any money for this study. What we were told is we would have to seek out grant money for this study,” said Maryvale School District Superintendent Deborah Ziolkowski.

“You need to know that the grant that’s out there is worth $25,000 per district. What you also need to know is that with a grant they don’t just give you the full amount of money. We have a 10 percent local share cost which means that it is going to cost our district $2,750 so there will be a cost involved in us doing this study.”

Cleveland Hill School District pulled out of the consolidation study idea so that leaves Maryvale, Cheektowaga Central, and Cheektowaga Sloan to decide whether they want to pursue it further. Although some Maryvale School Board members are upset that legislators promised to help the districts seek funding and now they feel it is being left up to them. The board decided at Monday’s meeting not to make any decisions until they find out more information at the joint board meeting, which will be held at the end of January.

“I think it’s wonderful that our legislation suggests us to do this and then leaves the funding up to us,” said Margaret Bourdette, Maryvale School Board President.

Yet Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak, who did promise to seek funding for the districts if they wrote him a letter of intent said he stills plans to do so.

“If the three schools want to do anything we can help and try and find funds. We said we would do what we can to help and get funding and we stand by that. All they have to do is pick up the phone and call and follow through,” said Gabryszak.

Gabryszak’s office stated they did send an email out to the three districts with an idea to apply for a local efficiency grant but there are many other ways they can go about seeking funding and this was just one way of pursuing funds. Members of his office also said they have written letters in the past to the Speaker of the New York State Assembly requesting money for a study and they plan on doing so again.

Cheektowaga Central School Board President Brian Gould believes the local efficiency grant is a great idea and wants to go ahead and pursue it as the lead agent. The district even has its own grant writer in place to move forward in the process.

“Our board is 100 percent in support of it. It is a grant requesting money to do a study into consolidation to see whether or not it will be in our best interest but at the same point, we see the future coming and without doing something drastic like consolidation, things might end having to look different no matter what,” said Gould.

There will be a joint board meeting at Cleveland Hill School District 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28 to further discuss the matter. All are welcome to attend.

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