By DARLA M. YOUNGS SCHENEVUS – Schenevus Central School District Superintendent Theresa Carlin resigned during a special Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, December 27, effective December 31. Carlin stepped down just over a year after Schenevus taxpayers voted against a proposed merger with Worcester Central School. The merger had been approved in a straw vote held by both districts in September 2021, but Schenevus residents ultimately opposed the merger on December 1, 2021 amid much contention.
“I was not fired, I wasn’t going to be fired. This was my decision,” Carlin said during a telephone interview last Friday. Nor did the failed merger have any bearing on Carlin’s resignation.
“I would have resigned anyway,” Carlin explained. “Part of my decision to leave is because I want to be in a different place, doing different things.”
Last year’s merger putting competing grocers Price Chopper and Tops under a single parent company left local shoppers wondering the fate of branded stores in Otsego County.
As a condition of approving the merger, the Federal Trade Commission required proposed parent company Northeast Grocery to divest its interest in a dozen stores — among them the Tops Market on Route 28 in Hartwick Seminary.
C&S Wholesale Grocers, a century-old supplier to independent grocery stores throughout the country, purchased the stores in question and, in the next few months, will replace the Tops brand with Grand Union.
“This is another very exciting opportunity for C&S to further expand into the retail market,” Rick Cohen, executive chairman of C&S Wholesale Grocers said. “This is an important component of our growth and future success.”
“The Grand Union stores will showcase C&S’s already successful retail strategies and be supported by our strong wholesale supply chain and programs to deliver solid retail performance,” he continued.
When asked, all three players involved in the merger, divestiture, and rebranding of the stores declined to comment beyond prepared statements provided to the media.
Price Chopper locations in Cooperstown and Oneonta will retain their brand identity under the new Northeast Grocery parent banner, as will Price Chopper and Tops Markets throughout the remainder of the new parent company’s service region.
While no specific dates have yet been scheduled, C&S plans grand openings for the Hartwick Seminary and other Grand Union locations for mid-January through mid-February 2022, and states the company “will continue to recognize the union workforce at these locations.”
“We are very excited to bring this iconic supermarket back to the communities it has fed for generations,” said C&S Chief Executive Officer Bob Palmer.
The Schenevus-Worcester merger, which would have combined the Schenevus Central School district into the Worcester Central School district, ended in defeat after a majority of Schenevus district members voted against it, ending a tumultuous two year process that polarized their respective communities.
The results came in late Wednesday night with Schenevus CSD voting 509 against the merger to 254 in favor.
Worcester CSD members voted to approve the merger by 298 to 162.
Schenevus and Worcester Central school districts vote December 1 to decide whether they merge the districts, a move which has divided residents.
If approved, the Worcester Central School district would annex Schenevus. The Schenevus school building would retain its name and dragon mascot, and function as a Kindergarten-through-fifth grade elementary school. Worcester Central would host grades 6 to 12.
Voters approved the merger in a non-binding straw poll in September 2021; the December 1 vote is a binding referendum.
A forum is being held on Tuesday, November 16, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Worcester school gymnasium to discuss and comment on the potential merger of the Schenevus and Worcester school districts.
The last of the Merger Mondays took place Monday, June 14, ahead of Tuesday’s board vote.
The superintendents of Worcester and Schenevus central schools acknowledged the growing pains of a merger, but also argued its perceived importance to a group of about 15 attendees.
Some of the guests included Assemblyman Brian Miller, and Jeff Bishop, communications director for state Sen. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, who is an SCS graduate.
Miller expressed mostly neutrality for the upcoming vote and said he was there to “show support for whichever way the communities decide to go.”
Oberacker was unable to attend because he was at a parade in Unadilla, a cause of some criticism among those who attended, but Bishop said Oberacker was closely following the developments on the potential merger.
If the vote is approved, there will be a Sept. 22, straw poll followed by a Dec. 3, binding referendum.
If the merger is approved the combined Board of Education would increase from five to seven seats. There also will be state financial incentives for the merger, which BOE representatives say will be used to improve educational opportunities and provide funds to a reserve, while also maintaining the same staff only eliminating positions through attrition, which they say will save $690,000.
Class size will be 22 students or lower.
Much of the merger rationale is based on a study conducted prior to the pandemic, which referenced a declining enrollment for both schools, a problem which in a merged district would be resolved with access to more academics and athletics.
Any additional cost for transportation they say will be minimal.
Anything related to mascots, school colors and team names would be student driven, officials said.
“This is emotional for a lot of people. … We do realize that and recognize that, but we have to do what’s best for our kids and everything in the study shows its best for our kids,” Carlin said.
Miller diverted from his original stance of neutrality briefly to posit about the merger.
“It’s to benefit our children and make our area truly prosper. … Things are really getting tough,” Miller said, referencing state funding. “A merger is really the best thing we can do.”
An ongoing series of discussions surrounding the potential of a merger between Schenevus and Worcester central schools is culminating in a public forum that is to be held at 6 p.m., Monday, June 14, at Schenevus’s Draper School, according to a media release.
Discussions of a merger have been long underway in what is called “Merger Mondays,” a monthly meeting to discuss the possibility of the two schools merging.
A walking tour of SCS is also scheduled at 5 p.m., prior to the forum.
SCHENEVUS – Awaiting a merger study, the Schenevus Central School Board will meet tomorrow at 6:30 to vote on a resolution to begin conversations with Worcester about tuitioning-out students for the 2020-2021 school year.
“Tutioning-out is buying a service from another school district instead of supplying that service yourself,” said Schenevus Central School Superintendent Theresa Carlin.
But families who came out to the meeting were divided on which of those three choices to make.
Doug Gulotty, a Schenevus resident and former Wilber Bank president who spent 17 years as a board member and whose wife teaches at the school, favors tuitioning-out. “The identity of the school matters,” Gulotty said. “I want everyone to keep an open mind.”