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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 disadvantage there!
     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 election.
Below is a report on the infomercial meeting as printed in the Owego Pennysaver Sept. 22- 2013

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. That’s 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 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.