True North school districts meet, discuss shared services

— Superintendents and board members of the five True North school districts recently met to discuss sharing services to keep costs and taxes down while maintaining scholastic standards for local children.

The districts — Long Lake, Newcomb, Minerva, Indian Lake and Johnsburg — already share many services. Just look at two of the sports teams for proof — the Indian Lake-Long Lake Orange and the Minerva-Newcomb Mountaineers. At their April 29 meeting in the Long Lake Central School, district officials discussed their past successes and explored new ways to share.

“It’s amazing what we do with a handshake easily,” said Long Lake School Superintendent Mary Dickerson said. “It’s a nice group of people to work with.”

School officials have had an open dialogue for six years, branding themselves the True North districts, but have not met each year. This was the second year in a row that superintendents and school board members were invited. Newcomb School Superintendent Skip Hults attended the latest meeting and walked away with a renewed energy.

“I went there with my president, and we both thought it was very, very worthwhile,” Hults said. “One of the things we did realize was that we just can’t do this every couple of years and then get back together and hope to accomplish anything, that we need to do this several times a year.”

Washington County report

As state and federal aid dry up, health care and retirement costs rise, and New York’s tax cap forces school officials to make tougher decisions than ever, the seven Washington County districts decided that a new approach was needed. So they pooled their resources and published a study to look at ways to either create regional schools or consolidate and share services and resources. The Washington County School Districts Study was released in November 2012.

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