County schools seek to pool resources

A s cuts to funding affect many schools across the country, several local districts are turning towards each other for help. Administrators who say they are left with no other options are looking into combining resources.

Along with five other school districts in Washington County, Granville and Hartford have recently undergone a regionalization study, which will look for places where districts can collaborate on financial and educational aspects.

Since last spring, the Capital Area School Development Association, which was commissioned to do the study, has been meeting with superintendents, principals and other school officials and looking for collaboration opportunities.

Granville Superintendent Mark Bessen said with times being tough right now, area schools do the best they can to help each other.

“We’re trying to find out in what ways we can work together; we want our kids to have the same opportunities that kids from bigger, downstate districts have,” Bessen said.

Hartford made the decision to take part in the study after several other districts requested it, said the superintendent there, Thomas Abraham. He shared Bessen’s sentiment about financial difficulties.

“Basically most schools are in need of money. We have to explore solutions.” Abraham said. The results of the study will be confidential until they are revealed during a public hearing at the end of the month. Abraham thought schools might share programs or staff. Hartford, for example, has some AP courses other schools do not.

“We want to provide opportunities for our students and students in other districts that will propel them forward,” Bessen said. He thought local districts might be able to align their schedules or do things electronically for distance learning. Granville, he said, has a great engineering program and a business program that is recognized as one of the best in the state; he believes students from other districts could benefit from accessing these.

While Abraham sees good opportunity in this effort, he does not think it will fix anything permanently.

“It gives short-term solutions to long-term issues, but it doesn’t solve anything. It gives the schools breathing room,” Abraham said.

Each school paid $12,000 to be part of the study for a total of $84,000, Bessen said.

Along with Hartford and Granville, Fort Ann, Cambridge, Hudson Falls, Salem and Argyle participated in the study. A public meeting and hearing about the results of the study will take place on Nov. 29 at the Hudson Falls High School auditorium.

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