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ELCS seeks a merger partner

Elizabethtown-Lewis Superintendent/Principal Scott Osborne, right.

Elizabethtown-Lewis Superintendent/Principal Scott Osborne, right. Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School is looking for a dance partner when it comes to looking at a potential merger.

During the March 27 meeting of the ELCS Board of Education, Superintendent Scott Osborne asked for permission to speak with the surrounding school districts to look at getting together to draft a merger feasibility study.

"We have two districts to our south doing that," Osborne said. "They are looking at going in with another district on doing a feasibility study."

Osborne was referring to the current study being done by the Ticonderoga and Crown Point school districts.

"I want to just talk with the surrounding school districts and see what their thoughts were," he said. "This is very preliminary."

Members of the School Board said they would support the inquiry.

"It is getting the public, the other school districts and everyone else to listen and understand," board member Karin DeMuro said. "You cannot get anywhere unless you start a discussion. This is something that we have always supported. We have been interested in approaching people about this."

"The numbers are much more real now," board member Karen Hooper said. "You can do it when there is money or when there is not. I would like to drive the conversation."

Osborne said that the financial future of state funding and the continuing need to use fund balance in order to balance their budget was a driving factor in reaching out to other districts.

"Education is not going to look the same at Elizabethtown-Lewis next year, and it will look even more different in 2015-16," Osborne said. "We need to drive our own bus and get out in front of this."

Osborne also said that the current sharing of services between different districts also could help lead to a merger study.

"We do a fair amount of sharing with other districts, but that has only been taking us so far," he said.

Osborne added that he felt that the discussion about mergers between districts needed to change.

"Many people view this urgent matter as a territorial piece. We don't want to be a bear; we want to keep our name," he said. "But I think that the most important piece is that I am not so sure that we are going to be able to provide the amount of education programming that we can today."

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