The Livingston Manor-Roscoe Merger Committee reviewed a draft of the merger study report at its final meeting on Monday, July 25, at LMCS. The 18-member committee has been meeting monthly with consultants from the firm Castallo & Silky LLC since March to review information about the two districts’ finances, staffing, programs, facilities and transportation.
The findings in the report were summarized at the meeting as follows:
- A merger could save four elementary staff positions without a substantial increase in class sizes.
- A merger could save two secondary positions without eliminating any of the classes currently offered.
Athletics and extracurricular activities
- A merger could allow for the expansion of athletic and extracurricular offerings.
- Neither building has the space to house all of the current students in both districts. Both school buildings would be needed in the event of a merger (or a new school built).
- As the larger of the two schools, LMCS is better suited to house secondary programs (middle/high school).
- Transportation in a merged district would cost more than either district is currently spending, regardless of the routing method used.
- LMCS and Roscoe staff earn different salaries depending on experience and education levels. “Leveling up” salaries would cost $312,000 more than the two districts are currently paying.
- Staffing efficiencies could save a merged district more than $1 million in salaries. This can be possible over time if a merged district allows for “attrition” — leaving certain positions unfilled if and when people resign or retire.
- This includes the elementary and secondary staff positions mentioned above, as well as administrative positions.
- A merger would generate cost savings as well as additional revenue over the 15-year period following the merger. Any additional costs of merging, including those mentioned above, would be outweighed by increased savings and revenue.
- As a result, it would be possible for the merged district to reduce taxes for all residents.
- Tax savings are projected to be possible for a period of 4-7 years following the merger, based on existing budgets.
Merger study committee members can provide the consultants with any feedback on the information presented at the meeting. A draft report, incorporating the committee’s feedback, will be submitted to the state Education Department for their review. A final report is expected to be presented to both districts’ boards of education at a joint meeting in mid-September.
Once the report is presented to the boards, it will be made public. District Superintendent John Evans said he plans to go out into both school district communities in the fall to further discuss the merger and the report, and to send mailers to all residents of both districts. A series of focus groups held in July drew few participants. Notes from those conversations can be found here:
In October, each district’s board of education will vote on the continuation of the merger process. If both boards approve the continuation, an advisory referendum (sometimes called a “straw vote”) will be held in late October to find out if both school district communities support the merger. If the vote is positive in both communities, a binding referendum will be scheduled for December.
The outcome of the binding referendum will determine whether the two districts will merge. If the December vote is positive in both communities, the merged district would begin operation on July 1, 2023.