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ECS Rejects Merger Study Request

By Colleen Mahoney

The Ellicottville Central School Board of Education is not interested in partially funding a pre-merger study with West Valley Central School (WVCS) and Springville-Griffith Institute (SGI).

The decision was made during the board’s April 26 meeting after Superintendent Mark Ward read a letter from WVCS Superintendent Eric Lawton to ECS and SGI asking that the three districts enter into a pre-merger study, splitting the cost three ways.

The ECS board held a discussion, noting that they only discussed an annexation with WVCS.

“What is a pre-merger study? We’re not interested in a merger,” board member Nicole Klein said. “We talked about annexation … that’s what we’re comfortable with.”

Ward said he believed a pre-merger study would be a step toward a more formal discussion, but added that it adds one more layer to an already lengthy process. WVCS and ECS would have to conduct a feasibility study, a straw poll and then a public vote before they could merge or annex. A pre-merger study costs roughly $5,000 and the ECS board did not feel it should be responsible for paying.

“An annexation is the only thing we’re interested in talking about,” Board President Carl Calarco said. “We’re fine with sharing the cost for an annexation study … not this.”

The board authorized Ward to send a response to Lawton, outlining its position.

In other business, the board approved a junior varsity golf team after hearing from varsity golf coach Dan LaCroix. According to LaCroix, the varsity team can no longer keep seventh and eighth graders on the team if they’re not among the top eight players. The rule change comes from the New York State Education Department.

LaCroix explained that the regulations make it more difficult for the younger students to remain on the team, many of whom enjoy the sport. “Adding a JV team … lets the kids … continue to play and build their skills,” LaCorix said.

There will be no additional cost to the district for a JV team and LaCroix said he will assume responsibility for the JV coaching position.

“He wants to develop the sport and this is a way to do that,” Ward said. “It’s a good opportunity … a great way to learn to play a lifetime sport.”

The board also approved a resolution to enter into an agreement with Erie 1 BOCES to furnish computers for the district. Ward explained the agreement is for laptops and will cost the district $13,423.20 over five years. With the agreement, the district will be able provide laptops for students in 7th through 12th grade.

The board will hold a public hearing on the 2016-17 budget on May 10, at 7:30 p.m. in advance of the budget vote on May 17. All are welcomed to attend.

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