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Wells, Lake Pleasant schools to look into merger

Piseco school district declines to participate in study

July 27, 2010
By EDWARD J. HUNT, The Leader-Herald

WELLS - The Wells and Lake Pleasant school boards have agreed to conduct a study examining consolidation of the two central school districts.

The districts' boards of education agreed to pursue the study at a joint meeting July 19. The Piseco Common School District Board of Education also attended the meeting but declined to participate in the study.

The Wells Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution at its July 21 meeting supporting the consolidation study. The Lake Pleasant board is expected to vote on the resolution Wednesday.

Bill Edwards, speaking for the Piseco board, said although it was "definitely supportive" of the idea of a merger, the board declined to participate in the study because members don't think the community would support it.

According to the state Education Department, school district mergers require a feasibility study, followed by public hearings, and then an informal poll of the community to gauge public desire for a merger. A positive vote is required for the merger process to continue.

The state commissioner of education would then define the new district, a formal vote for approval of the merger is taken in each of the former districts and then, if the vote is positive, a new board of education is elected to represent the new district.

"State mandates and regulations are a challenge to maintaining a successful program in a small high school," Wells Board President Cathie Rust said in a news release. "Equally challenging is attracting an administrator to serve as both superintendent and high school principal. In unsettled financial times, it is difficult to justify additional administrative positions or to construct a budget that maintains strong academic programming while being sensitive to the needs of area taxpayers."

John Zeis is serving as Wells' interim superintendent while the board seeks a permanent successor to retired Superintendent Gavin Murdoch. Zeis, a Wells resident, has previously stated he has no interest in remaining in the position permanently, and he will serve until July 2011 or until a new superintendent is hired.



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