In my area, the hot topic is a school merger. My school is in the middle of a merger study with 3 other local districts. This 4-way merger is well on its way to becoming history making. We have heard that all eyes in our state are on us. If we were to merge with the other 3 districts, our student body pre-k-12 would be about 4,700 students! We would have one elementary school in each town for grades pre-k-4, an “upper elementary” building with grades 5 and 6 in one town (one of the former high schools), a middle school with grades 7 and 8 in another town (another former high school), and high school grades 9-12 in the largest of the four current schools. The fourth current high school would only be used for district offices and alternative ed.
There are many people on either side of the debate, and it is getting very heated. Personally, I have only told my view to a few people. I can see benefits and challenges in both situations (merging or staying as stand-alone districts), however I am leaning in one direction. But, I am afraid of stating my opinion and having people attack what I believe. So, I will take part in discussions, ask questions, etc, but not state my opinion. A select few know how I really feel!
I am terrified of next school year, whether we merge or not. Our state continues to cut educational funding, and our budget for next year looks bleak. If we merge, the new district will lose about 40 teachers, and this doesn’t include any other positions, like aides, secretaries, etc. If we don’t merge, each school will certainly lose people as well. When I was hired, I was hired with a group of about 15 new teachers in one school year (luckily I was the first hired in the bunch). Each year we have slowly lost a lot of those teachers to budget cuts, so I am pretty low in the seniority totem pole. Hopefully the cuts don’t go as far as me!
Each town has had a couple of community forums in November and December. Our 3rd forum will be next week. We have a community “straw vote” in January to decide if we will continue on. If it is positive in at least 3 of the 4 communities, the process will move on to the final community vote in February. If the merger is voted on, our new district will begin on July 1, 2012! I can’t believe how fast it will all happen.
My questions for you: have any of you had experience with a merger? What are your thoughts or opinions on schools merging?
+ Laura +