Over the last week, there have been two informative presentations made in the Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School auditorium.
The first dealt with the economic future of the North Country and was run by the North Country Economic Regional Development Council (NCEDC). The second was a presentation on the future of school districts by Alan Pole, who started his education career as a teacher at Chazy Central Rural School and has been a consultant on several studies in shared services or the merger of districts.
In both cases, the message was similar, as both sides said it’s time to get the ball rolling to meet the needs of the taxpayers and the community at large. Whether it means developing a comprehensive plan that can be used as a guideline to work toward economic growth in the Adirondacks, bringing school boards together to open the dialogue into sharing services, or merging school districts, the time for action is now.
Yes, now is the time to draft a plan to promote the region economically as well as consolidate services between school districts that continue to see a drop in enrollment and state aid.
On the economic side, we hope that people had a chance to get to the community forum meetings held around the region over the past couple of months. Each meeting brought ideas to the council that have been used in drafting a plan that needs to be submitted to the state by Nov. 14.
Once the plans from the 10 regions are submitted, they will compete for $200 million in funding from the state for projects to help bolster the regions’ economies.
While NCEDC co-chair Garry Douglas said he was more concerned with the “stronger bond for collaboration in this seven-county region” and that “too much is made of the figure,” we encourage council members to make sure they present as solid a plan as they can to the state and focus on securing as much money as they can. In the near future, collaboration is not going to pay the bills that communities face.
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