By JAMES CUMMINGS • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
MILFORD – Milford and Charlotte Valley have emerged as possible refuges for Schenevus Central students if that financially strapped school district is force to close its doors.
At 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16, Worcester Superintendent of Schools Tim Gonzales announced “tuitioning-in” Schenevus students wasn’t in his school district’s best interest.
That came after a month of conversations after Schenevus looked to Worcester as the most sensible place to educate its students if it can’t continue on its own.
“In the beginning, tuitioning for both sides looked good. But as we dug deeper and looked more into the legal side, that’s where it got muddy,” Gonzales said.
Schenevus Superintendent Theresa Carlin, while disappointed, may have found two new angels.
“Milford and Charlotte Valley had indicated to me that they would be interested in having a conversation about tuitioning-out,” she said.
“I told them that I would love to have these conversations, but I would ask that you do your research before we do this, because I’m not going down this road again.”
Should the schools agree to tuition-in Schenevus students, however, it may be too late for the 2020-21 school year.
“All of those decisions need to be made by April 1. I don’t think between now and April 1 we have enough time,” she said. “The feeling that I’m getting from the board is that we’re not going to rush into anything.”
For his part, Gonzalez said staffing seniority rules was part of the reason for the change of mind.
“The way the statute is, any staff that’s let go becomes part of our staff. They’re put on the eligibility list for seven years,” he said. “We would have to hire their current math teacher, whoever their most senior person is.”
And should tuitioning cease for any particular reason, Worcester would be obligated to keep the more senior staff member, even if that means terminating a Worcester teacher.
Schenevus’ Carlin said her school board is disappointed. “We were hoping this would be a way for us to maintain our sustainability for a little longer, therefore benefiting our students greatly. For Worcester, it would be an opportunity to enrich their programs,” she said.
“The other thing that brings some disappointment to it is that ultimately our district would like to merge with them. And having tuitioned out, it would’ve been a positive step towards a merger.
“So now I feel like we’ve taken a couple of steps back.”
Regardless, with a merger grant awarded last month, Schenevus and Worcester will nonetheless begin the process of determining if a merger will work for both schools. There will be a special presentation from Syracuse educational consulting firm Castillo and Silky, who have been selected to facilitate the study, at a Board of Education Meeting at Worcester Central at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 22.