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#1373762 - 11/18/12 12:13 PM Romulus &South Seneca Merger info
DR. D Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/25/03
Posts: 6056
Loc: Waterloo/Seneca Falls/Junius/T...
Something does not set well with me about this.....

Article From DAVID L. SHAW of Finger Lakes Times

OVID — There were once three school districts in southern Seneca County: Ovid, Interlaken and Romulus.

In 1968, there were two. Ovid and Interlaken merged to form South Seneca.

By July 1, 2013, there may only be one.

The Romulus and South Seneca school districts agreed earlier this year to explore a merger and hired Castallo & Silkey Education Consultants of Syracuse to do a study.

The consultants will present their final report to the two school boards — and the public — Monday night.

“It is not within our province or the purpose of this study to recommend whether Romulus and South Seneca should merge their two districts into one,’’ the consultants state in their report.

But they list 44 “key findings’’ and 21 recommendations for consideration, including:

FINDINGS 1-2: Both districts have experienced declining enrollments over the past six years. A merged district should see a stabilization of enrollment over the next seven years.

It is unlikely that home-schooled students, those in private schools and/or Mennonite or Amish students in the two districts will enter the public schools.

RECOMMENDATION 1: A merged district should annually update enrollment projections to accurately monitor its student population.

FINDING 3: The two districts have a somewhat different grade level pattern. Romulus has a configuration of pre-K-4, 5-8 and 9-12. South Seneca has pre-K-5, 6-8 and 9-12.

FINDING 4: At the elementary level, the teacher and students days are different. South Seneca students have a day that is 20 minutes longer than Romulus students. Also, Romulus faculty has longer days Monday through Thursday and a shorter day on Fridays and the day before a holiday.

FINDING 5: Both districts have two or three sections of each elementary grade. South Seneca has more grade levels with three sections. Average section sizes tend to be somewhat smaller in Romulus.

FINDING 6: There are significant curriculum differences at the elementary level.

RECOMMENDATION 2: If the districts merge, a committee of elementary teachers and an administrator should be convened as soon as possible to review the existing curriculum and make recommendations for a common core curriculum for grades pre-K to 6.

FINDING 7: The amount of art, music, library, physical education and computer time that elementary students receive per week varies within and across the two districts.

RECOMMENDATION 3: If there is a merger, the elementary curriculum committee should also address a master schedule that ensures a consistent amount of times and delivery approach for all special subject areas in grades pre-K to 5.

FINDING 8: There is little difference between the two districts on grades 3-6 performance on the state English and math tests from 2007 to 2011. But it is difficult to make any valid comparisons because the small number of students cause wide percentage swings from year to year.

RECOMMENDATION 4: If there is a merger, there should be close review annually to ensure that there is no difference in elementary school achievement, no matter what school the students attend in the new district.

FINDING 9: At the middle and high school level, the student day differs by only five minutes. The Romulus staff have a longer day Monday through Thursday and a shorter day on Friday and the days before a holiday.

FINDINGS 10-12: Both high schools offer a solid academic program. South Seneca, being larger, has more sections of some courses than Romulus.

Each high school offers different courses for college credit that could benefit those in a merged high school.

A merged district would make it possible to offer all high school courses currently available in both districts and reduce some staff positions, while maintaining class sizes of no more than 22.

In addition to offering all courses currently available in both schools and keeping class size at a maximum of 22, a merged high school could offer even more elective courses.

FINDING 13: Performance on state Regents exams is similar for both high schools. Romulus tends to have more students passing at the mastery level, more graduating with a Regents diploma and more with an advanced designation on their diploma.

RECOMMENDATIONS 5-7: In a merged district, the new school board and administration should attempt to provide all courses now offered in both schools, if enrollment is sufficient.

They should also attempt to develop more elective courses and there should be close review for at least three years after merger to ensure there is no difference in high school achievement regardless of which elementary school students come from.

FINDING 14: Both secondary schools have a “solid array’’ of inter-scholastic and extracurricular activities. There is a varsity coed bowling team in Romulus and wrestling in South Seneca that could be available to all students.

RECOMMENDATIONS 8-9: If there is a merger, school officials should attempt to provide all current interscholastic and extracurricular activities to all, assuming sufficient participation, and look to develop new offerings.

FINDING 15: South Seneca has a slightly higher percentage of students identified as in need of special education services.

RECOMMENDATION 10: If they merge, a new Committee on Special Education and Pre-School Committee on Special Education should be appointed, with roughly equal representation from each district’s prior committees.

FINDINGS 16-18: Both districts have done a good job of maintaining their facilities. Neither has much work that needs to be done in the immediate future.

Both districts have adequate space to house existing programs if they merge. No school could be closed and still comfortably handle the current and projected student enrollments.

Non-school groups use the facilities in each district.

RECOMMENDATIONS 11-12: With a merger, the new school board should develop a building use policy for non-school organizations that will continue the current practices in both districts.

All pre-K to Grade 5 students should stay in their current schools in Romulus or Interlaken. All students in grades six to eight should attend school in the Romulus school and all in grades nine to 12 should attend the South Seneca High School in Ovid.

FINDINGS 19-22: Both operate their own transportation systems. Romulus contracts for vehicle maintenance with the Seneca County Highway Department.

The bus fleets of each district have been well-maintained and replaced appropriately. The longest bus run in each district is no more than an hour.

Romulus has a single bus run each day. South Seneca has a double trip bus run each day.

RECOMMENDATIONS 13-14: If there is a merger, a study should be done to determine if the new district should maintain its own buses, contract the maintenance to an outside vendor or do a combination of both.

The study should also include examining the best routing pattern to ensure that no student is on the bus during a regular day any longer than 60 minutes, one way.

FINDING 23: Teacher contracts in the two districts are fairly similar, with Romulus teachers paid less. If salaries are made equal, it would cost the merged district an additional $90,464, plus $18,997 in fringe benefits.

RECOMMENDATION 15: If they merge, the new school board should recognize an appropriate teacher bargaining unit and negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement.

FINDINGS 24-28: Two fewer teachers would be needed at the high school under a merger, assuming a maximum class size of 22. This would save about $150,000 in salaries and fringe benefits.

Coaching salaries and stipends for extra-curricular activities would be easy to negotiate and would have little financial impact on district finances.

A merger would result in fewer administrative positions. Those reductions would save about $290,437 in salaries and fringe benefits.

Fewer mid-level managers would also be needed.

RECOMMENDATIONS 16-17: A merged district should have a superintendent, a business manager, a director of pupil personnel services, an elementary principal in Interlaken, an elementary/middle school principal in Romulus and a high school principal and assistant high school principal in Ovid.

To save another $201,570 in salaries and fringe benefits, a merged district should have a transportation supervisor, a superintendent of buildings and grounds, a cafeteria manager, a technology director and a superintendent’s secretary.

The current South Seneca business office staff, with BOCES support, should handle the fiscal affairs of the merged district.

FINDINGS 29-31: Given the staff restructuring proposed for a merged district, there will be fewer shared positions through BOCES, resulting in the loss of some $117,873 in BOCES aid.

Health insurance coverage is fairly comparable between the two districts. Overall staff savings in a merged district would be an estimated $536,654 annually.

RECOMMENDATION 19: The new school board should develop a plan for proper staffing levels to realize the potential savings.

FINDINGS 32-44: These findings deal with financial matters.

Both districts have always had voters consistently approve their annual budgets, with districts in sound financial condition and operating expenses per student are similar.

It is noted that Romulus and South Seneca are in different BOCES districts and both purchase a significant number of services from BOCES.

South Seneca has consistently received more state aid per student than Romulus. The full value property wealth in South Seneca is higher, but the property wealth per student is similar for the two districts.

The local tax levy has been consistently higher in South Seneca, but the local tax levy per student is higher in Romulus. The tax rate on true value in Romulus is $19.02 per $1,000 of assessed value and $15.72 in South Seneca.

Romulus has $9.07 million in capital debt, with a local share of $1.19 million, that will be retired in 2024.

South Seneca has $40.9 million in capital debt, with a local share of $4.5 million, that will be retired in 2027. Should they merge, this debt will be reduced by $71,674.

A merged district would receive $17.2 million in incentive operating aid from the state over a 14-year period or $1.8 million for each of the first five years of the merger.

Considering all factors, it is estimated that a merged district would save $16.8 million for the first 14 years after a merger.

Using 50 percent of the incentive aid and other savings, it is estimated that the true value tax rate would be $14.90 per $1,000, a decline of $4.12 in Romulus and a decline of 82 cents in South Seneca.

RECOMMENDATIONS 20-21: A new school board for a merged district should closely scrutinize its first budget to ensure that projected efficiencies are actually achieved, ensuring local tax relief.

They should also develop a financial plan to ensure long-term fiscal stability for the merged district.

What’s next:

• Both districts will offer public information sessions.

• In a straw vote, the public will vote yes or no on whether to move forward with the study.

• If a straw vote is approved, there will be a final vote.

http://www.fltimes.com/news/state/article_396fd84c-3131-11e2-b45b-001a4bcf887a.html

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#1373765 - 11/18/12 12:31 PM Re: Romulus &South Seneca Merger info [Re: DR. D]
Forest Girl Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/29/07
Posts: 804
Loc: The Heights
What are your concerns?
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I'm reminded way too often these days about how short life truly is.

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#1373797 - 11/18/12 07:15 PM Re: Romulus &South Seneca Merger info [Re: Forest Girl]
Family Man Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/18/05
Posts: 4468
Loc: Seneca Falls
Both districts are going to have a very difficult time offering even an inkling of the academic experience that people are used to if they remain independent. There is not enough money and there are too few students. What will remain are 2 schools who only offer the mandated programs, which won't serve students very well.

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#1373806 - 11/18/12 08:22 PM Re: Romulus &South Seneca Merger info [Re: Family Man]
centurion Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/23/03
Posts: 3541
Loc: lodi express track
build , more building, spend more money, build some more, then merge, spend some more, cause they missed something. keep building the great wall higher and higher. go into debt some more then what merge with Trumansburg. There seems to be no end to this madness. When we are all broke for paying for a school system that really dont produce any more than it it did 30 years ago.

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#1373809 - 11/18/12 08:31 PM Re: Romulus &South Seneca Merger info [Re: Family Man]
Frostbyte Offline
Member

Registered: 12/24/11
Posts: 114
Loc: New York,United States
The cold hard reality of this whole merging thing is that the South Seneca School district is a failing school district..The reason enrollment is dropping is because parents are realizing that home schooling is more rewarding for their kids..Others have proven that South Seneca is inadequate and since every child is entitled to a free and appropriate education, the district has to ship kids to more appropriate education, in other districts...South Seneca is in debt from wasteful spending...For the size of the district and failing district Nusser is payed too much...there is the key there...why would you keep someone who has done nothing but continue to let scores drop,enrollment drop and let the district slide further in debt, year after year for the past 10 years continue to run the district..and keep giving them raises..When the two districts merge and they will merge...you are going to get stuck with one big failing school district with now twice as many kids that are set up to fail...because that's all South Seneca does is set the kids up to fail...The only kids that get any attention in that district are the athletes and above average students...So many are left to the wayside but you never hear about that because they pass many through the system without learning to read, write or do simple math. The others drop out before graduation...South Seneca is designated a title 1 school in need of improvement and those students are entitled to a better education.

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#1373813 - 11/18/12 09:27 PM Re: Romulus &South Seneca Merger info [Re: Frostbyte]
Southern Seneca Offline
Member

Registered: 11/16/12
Posts: 32
Loc: NY
South Seneca has definitely gone down hill, but we owe it to the current students and future generations to fix it. I have a child in school and another who will be in 4 years. This merger is a good start to get things headed in a more positive direction. A massive restructuring is definitely needed!
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#1373816 - 11/18/12 09:43 PM Re: Romulus &South Seneca Merger info [Re: Southern Seneca]
Frostbyte Offline
Member

Registered: 12/24/11
Posts: 114
Loc: New York,United States
Not if the same people run it...and I heard it was going to be Nusser...If that rings true this big change will take a big step backward...

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#1373822 - 11/19/12 01:39 AM Re: Romulus &South Seneca Merger info [Re: Frostbyte]
Family Man Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/18/05
Posts: 4468
Loc: Seneca Falls
It's funny what people "hear", a new superintendent would have to be hired, she could apply, I'm not sure when her contract expires but since the Romulus superintendent is an interm and the South Seneca superintendent is short term at best, you would get what you are asking for.

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#1373826 - 11/19/12 07:24 AM Re: Romulus &South Seneca Merger info [Re: centurion]
BigRed Offline
Member

Registered: 05/08/03
Posts: 206
Loc: ny
Originally Posted By: centurion
build , more building, spend more money, build some more, then merge, spend some more, cause they missed something. keep building the great wall higher and higher. go into debt some more then what merge with Trumansburg. There seems to be no end to this madness. When we are all broke for paying for a school system that really dont produce any more than it it did 30 years ago.


Not to mention having less students. Bigger buildings, more staff and less students. Crazy.

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#1373834 - 11/19/12 08:49 AM Re: Romulus &South Seneca Merger info [Re: Frostbyte]
Ovid14521 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/19/12
Posts: 5
Loc: Seneca
Frostbyte,

You couldn't be more wrong. Parents are pulling their children out of school because there are no jobs in the area. If you are a top student in a respective grade level then you wuill have no problem attending a good college. The socio-economic status of the district's population is a reflection in the low test scores. The band is much larger than the failing sports program, as you can see one boys varsity player from south seneca, embarrasing! Romulus needs the merger as much as we do. You cannot keep a school open with 20 students in a grade. Hopefully, with a more in depth merger study funding will be put where it needs to be and the schools can become more monetarily responsible.

- South Seneca Alum

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#1373838 - 11/19/12 11:46 AM Re: Romulus &South Seneca Merger info [Re: Forest Girl]
DR. D Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/25/03
Posts: 6056
Loc: Waterloo/Seneca Falls/Junius/T...
Originally Posted By: Forest Girl
What are your concerns?


My concerns, i have a few.

What BOCES district will this new school belong to, givnen the fact that they have 2 completely different BOCES districts that are in the same county. This will affect every special needs child that both districts transport to.

I noticed something about farming out the custodial, maintenance, and transportation departments. In other words outside services..... it not a good idea.

How will this change the current agreement with Seneca Falls and Romulus with shared services and who is left holding the bag?

What happens when the incentive money runs out???

Better yet, what happens if the state changes the formula again and take most of the merger incentive away mid stream?

I am not opposed to shared services, just something isnt right about all this.

I have more but my lunch is to short.

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#1373843 - 11/19/12 12:48 PM Re: Romulus &South Seneca Merger info [Re: DR. D]
burr in saddle Offline
Member

Registered: 08/24/07
Posts: 58
Loc: underyoura$$
I am opposed to the merger. I just dont see how keeping 3 schools open will save monies to the tax payers. If it isnt about saving monies then why? The state constantly tells you one thing then change the "formulas" later then where are we at?
So if SS has no monies to open their doors next year, wouldnt RCS take the northern population of kids and the southern population go to Tburg?

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#1373855 - 11/19/12 01:36 PM Re: Romulus &South Seneca Merger info [Re: DR. D]
Jelloshot Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 11/22/02
Posts: 11043
Loc: Right behind you.
TONIGHT, MONDAY - 6:30 AT THE SSCS AUDITORIUM IS THE MEETING FOR BOTH BOARDS OF ED. AND THE PRESENTATION OF THE FINAL REPORT!

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#1373858 - 11/19/12 01:42 PM Re: Romulus &South Seneca Merger info [Re: burr in saddle]
LittleKing Offline
Member

Registered: 05/08/01
Posts: 142
Originally Posted By: burr in saddle

So if SS has no monies to open their doors next year, wouldnt RCS take the northern population of kids and the southern population go to Tburg?


You really think a public school would ever go broke? More likely they'd just raise taxes and/or run an austerity budget.

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#1373862 - 11/19/12 02:05 PM Re: Romulus &South Seneca Merger info [Re: LittleKing]
Ovid14521 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/19/12
Posts: 5
Loc: Seneca
The schools are both broke. What people do not understand is that the schools have NO money and the shared decision making will be left to the state and not the communities if the merger is not agreed upon. Property value with no school district equals nothing.

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#1373865 - 11/19/12 02:18 PM Re: Romulus &South Seneca Merger info [Re: Ovid14521]
LittleKing Offline
Member

Registered: 05/08/01
Posts: 142
But that's not the same thing as a school not opening their doors because they're broke. The state still keeps the school open, right?

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#1373870 - 11/19/12 02:34 PM Re: Romulus &South Seneca Merger info [Re: LittleKing]
Ovid14521 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/19/12
Posts: 5
Loc: Seneca
i cannot give a definitive answer on that, but that would be a good question to ask at the board meeting. What might happen is that the state comes in and does what they want. Meaning revamp the districts without board representation or input and we get what they say we get. Or the schools close and its time to move.

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#1373875 - 11/19/12 02:42 PM Re: Romulus &South Seneca Merger info [Re: Ovid14521]
Jelloshot Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 11/22/02
Posts: 11043
Loc: Right behind you.
Originally Posted By: Ovid14521
the shared decision making will be left to the state and not the communities if the merger is not agreed upon.


That is not correct and only a fear based rumor, there is NO history of the State Ed. coming in and doing that. You are talking forced consolidations or annexations. Currently there are approximatly 70+ small schools across the state who are due to become financially insolvent and EVERYONE is watching. Go to Rural School Association and learn more.
If it is not on their site yet, it will be shortly.

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#1373885 - 11/19/12 04:45 PM Re: Romulus &South Seneca Merger info [Re: Ovid14521]
Fart in the Wind Offline
Member

Registered: 03/10/12
Posts: 402
Loc: beneath the Utica Shale
Originally Posted By: Ovid14521
Frostbyte,

You couldn't be more wrong. Parents are pulling their children out of school because there are no jobs in the area. The socio-economic status of the district's population is a reflection in the low test scores. Romulus needs the merger as much as we do. Hopefully, with a more in depth merger study funding will be put where it needs to be and the schools can become more monetarily responsible.
- South Seneca Alum


Also, Receiving Title I funding does not make you a school in need of improvement. Romulus receives Title I funding.

Title I is Financial Assistance to Local Educational Agencies for the Education of Children of Low Income Families. The school identifies students who are failing or at risk of failing.

http://www.p12.nysed.gov/irs/accountability/2011-12/November2011SchoolsAndStatusAddedInfo.pdf

County: SENECA
SOUTH SENECA CSD
* SOUTH SENECA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL In Good Standing
* SOUTH SENECA HIGH SCHOOL In Good Standing
* SOUTH SENECA MIDDLE SCHOOL In Good Standing

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#1373888 - 11/19/12 05:14 PM Re: Romulus &South Seneca Merger info [Re: Fart in the Wind]
jayray Offline
Member

Registered: 04/01/07
Posts: 490
Loc: in the woods
We don't need the merger. Will the state force it upon us? SS has debt from construction that wasn't paid off before the last round of improvements. I know of many parents who will move their kids out of the district if it goes through. Merged school districts with falling enrollment? What will the state mandate then?

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