Infomercial in the High School Sept 17, 2013
The school merger proponents gave their sales pitch for the proposed merger in
the High School. There was not that many people present so a short report of the
proceedings might be useful.
The merger committee was manned with mostly school employees. Amy
Bishop, Kermit Bossard, Matt Connor, Trish Greene, Missy Jewell, Heidi
Mouillesseaux-Kunzman, Rhonda Stangle, Saffron Van Galder.
It is a telling fact regarding their combined thinking, that in
their list of advantages and disadvantages they listed the loss of school colors as a
disadvantage. Not listed as a disadvantage, was the closing of the school in Spencer! So
Spencerites are for years stuck paying millions for the "Bailey Mausoleum"
addition of 2003, the Spencer community has no school, and the merger committee sees no
There is a tradition in the S-VE district to pack committees with
"yes" men and women, which of course makes the proposals of the committee, as
you can see, utterly useless. The school board is also hand picked, because there has been
three resignations after the board election, and the positions have been filled with
"yes" people for the merger instead people who got votes in the actual board
Below is a report on the infomercial meeting as printed in the Owego Pennysaver Sept. 22-
Letter to the Editor of Owego Pennysaver
The "information meeting" on 9-17 regarding the proposed S-VE Candor school
district merger turned out to be a high-pressure sales pitch for merger. The hired
facilitators from Syracuse first declared that they were neutral, but the material and
tone of the presentation turned propagandistic.
What became apparent is that there is to be a
"recommendation" that has one purpose only and that is to convince the voters to
pass the merger. The recommendation would in no way bind the new school board so after the
merger they can change things around. The most popular expression of the pitch was
"state aid increase." The presenters came back to it eight times in their
one-hour presentation. According to the promises by the facilitators the combined district
was to get a couple of million extra money yearly for the next 14 years. Spread between
the two districts would it not amount to much, and the facilitators could give no
guarantees that the state would not cut aid elsewhere so state aid could remain the same.
To make the merger more acceptable for taxpayers the
"recommendation" was that only half of the extra money was to be spent and the
other half was to be used to reduce tax increases. The problem is, that a recommendation
is meaningless because the board has no obligation to live up to their promises it after
the merger vote. My experience on the school Board was, that every penny that was
available, was spent. The plight of the taxpayer was not considered. There was a time when
there was money, that the S-VE board members and administration members took a trip to a
ski resort in Colorado. If there is money, it will be happy days are here again! But not
for the taxpayer who would have to pay for the increased transport costs and the
likelihood of building of a new campus between the towns.
The facilitators said that when the people get tired of the long
bus rides, action to build a new campus between the towns is usually started within five
years of the merger. Thats what they said in their initial presentation of the
merger project last year. The cost of a new campus would be 200-300 million dollars so the
new campus was not mentioned by the facilitators now, and when questions were made about
it there were only evasive brush offs, so the voters would not be alarmed at the long-time
costs when voting.
The recommendation is to initially abandon the Spencer Middle
School to which a huge addition was built in 2002. The addition created enormous over
capacity in the district. See www.nomerger.net for
details. So there has been a mausoleum in Spencer for years. When I pointed out the unused
space I was told that it was to be rented out for profit for the district, taxes would be
cut. Eleven years later they have still not been able to rent out anything. We still own
tens of millions for the expansion, but now the recommendation is to abandon it and leave
Spencer without a school. There were public concerns about it, but again, remember that
the purpose of the recommendation is to get the merger passed. What happens after the
merger is a different story. The sizes of the communities are such that the voters in the
S-VE will have the most votes. After the merger there would be a School Board vote, and
there should not be a problem to get a slate of candidates elected who would be committed
to keep the Spencer school open, and if needed, to close a school or two in Candor. Candor
would, even then, be liable to pay for their part of 23 million dollars that S-VE
presently owes on the buildings.