Livingston Manor and Roscoe Merger update Newsletter
Later this month, we will be asking you to vote on whether the Livingston Manor and Roscoe Central School Districts should merge.
We aren’t going into this lightly. Merger of the districts has been discussed several times. The populations in both districts have dropped dramatically over the past decades, and there are no signs that there will be a rebound in the near future. We thought it would be a good idea to look at the topic of merger again.
For more than a decade, we have been sharing athletic programs. We share several other services and positions, including mine.
Last year, we applied for and received $25,000 in state funding to pay for half of a study on the feasibility of a merger. We hired consultants Deb Ayers and Alan Pole of Castallo & Silky LLC to conduct the study. I thank the committee of residents, students and staff from both districts that met several times from March through July to offer their input on the study. At each of these meetings, members of the public were invited to attend in person or via Zoom.
The study was completed in July and sent to the state Education Department for approval. After state approval in early September, there was a final presentation, with the consultants and the merger committee, to a joint meeting of the Livingston Manor and Roscoe boards of education.
The boards met on Oct. 4 and approved putting the question of merging to a vote. That vote will be held Oct. 26. Polls will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at both school buildings. This will be a nonbinding referendum vote. If both communities approve of the measure, it will then go to a binding vote in December. If approved in both communities, a new combined district board of education will be elected in February, with the district beginning operations July 1, 2023.
I know the idea of a merger can be an emotional one. There is a lot to consider.
In this newsletter, you will find highlights from the study, some frequently asked questions and a timeline of events.
I know there are a lot of rumors circulating about what will happen if the districts merge. But please read the information included here, visit the districts’ merger study pages and reach out to a member of the merger committee or me if you have any questions.
John Evans, Superintendent of Schools
Merger study highlights
Working with residents, employees and students from both districts, consultants Castallo & Silky LLC prepared a merger feasibility study for the Livingston Manor and Roscoe school districts. The study looked at what would be possible if the two districts merged. Copies of the full study can be reviewed in each district’s central office. Highlights are shared below:
• Both districts face declining enrollments, and the trend is expected to continue.
• New families moving into the area hasn’t affected enrollments in any significant way.
• The number of students who are homeschooled or who attend school elsewhere is very small.
• Neither building is capable of housing all the students in a merged district.
• Secondary schools require more space than elementary schools.
• Livingston Manor (43 full size classrooms/100,383 sf) is a larger building than Roscoe (32 full size classrooms/68,270 sf).
• There are several advantages to the athletic facilities in Livingston Manor.
• The two buildings could support several different grade configurations.
• A merger could generate cost savings (+$31.5 million) as well as additional revenue ($11.5 million) over a 15-year period.
• Any costs of merging could be outweighed by increased savings and revenue.
• A merged district could reduce taxes for all residents for a period of 4-7 years.
• LMCS and Roscoe staff earn different salaries depending on experience and education levels.
• “Leveling up” salaries would cost an additional $312,000.
• Staffing efficiencies could save a merged district more than $1 million in salaries.
• This can be done by “attrition” — leaving positions unfilled when people resign or retire.
• Districts have different school start and end times
• Elementary schools use different curriculum materials
• Average class sizes in both districts are very similar.
• As many as 22 class sections could be reduced, without class sizes getting much larger or classes being eliminated.
• Many classes have fewer than 10 students per classroom.
• Graduation rates and test scores are similar.
• Both districts use contract transportation.
• Travel times range from 20 minutes to 70 minutes.
• School buildings are 7 miles apart.
• Some out-of-district routes could be consolidated in a merged district.
Transportation routes in a merged district could be:
• Two-tiered (separate bus runs for elementary and middle/high);
• Single-tiered (students of all grades on one bus); or
• Shuttle system (students “shuttled” between buildings)
• Costs will vary depending on the model chosen.
The road to merger
No merger can happen without the full support of each school community. Below are the stops along the road to a merger. Any majority “no” vote ends the merger process. (Dates are subject to change.)
Merger study: March-August 2022
Districts must conduct a feasibility study and submit it to the state Education Department before merging. Consultants Castallo & Silky worked with a committee of employees, district residents and students to conduct this study on behalf of the districts. The study was submitted to NYSED in August, and presented to both boards of education in September.
Board vote: October 2022
After reviewing the merger study, the Livingston Manor and Roscoe boards of education agreed to put the merger to a public vote.
Straw poll: October 2022
A straw poll, or advisory referendum, is scheduled for Oct. 26. All eligible voters in both school districts will have the opportunity to cast ballots on the merger question. The purpose of this vote is to learn whether the communities support the merger.
Binding referendum: December 2022
If the straw poll passes in both districts, the state Education Department will schedule a final vote. All eligible voters in both school districts can vote on the measure. If a majority of voters in both districts vote 'yes,' the districts will merge.
Board membership: February 2023
If the merger is approved, voters will have the opportunity in early 2023 to elect a new combined Board of Education to govern the merged district.
Budget vote: May 2023
Voters in both districts will have the opportunity to vote on the merged district’s combined budget in the annual school budget vote, held each year on the third Tuesday in May.
New district begins operation: July 2023
The merged district would begin operations on July 1, 2023.
Who decides if our two school districts will merge?
Eligible voters of both school districts decide if the two districts should merge, in a series of votes. The first vote is 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 26.
Will a building be closed?
Both buildings will be needed in a merged district at current enrollments. Neither building is large enough to hold all students from both schools.
Will people lose their jobs?
There is no plan to let anyone go from their job if the districts merge. The merged district would not need as many employees as the two districts have now. If employees resign or retire, the merged district could leave those positions unfilled, and still be able to meet current educational needs.
What will happen to my taxes?
The merged district could decrease taxes for residents of both districts for 4 to 7 years, if the recommendations of the merger study are followed. It would be up to the new board of education to follow that plan.
Will my child's bus ride be longer?
Some students may see as much as 10 minutes added to their bus times. However, other students may have shorter rides. A new plan will have to be made for the merged district to work out the most effective way to run bus routes.