WEST VALLEY—A pre-annexation feasibility study is on the horizon for West Valley Central School, after recent discussions from the community and district about the future of the school.
The study is expected to run through March 2018 and is the first step in deciding what will happen next.
The study will focus on the feasibility of three different options: an annexation by Springville-Griffith Institute, an annexation by Ellicottville Central School or West Valley remaining an independent district. The district has sent requests to companies who could perform the study, according to WVCS Superintendent Eric Lawton. Letters have also been sent to both S-GI and ECS to provide necessary information to superintendents Kimberly Moritz and Bob Miller.
“Right now we are just laying the groundwork with this first study,” Lawton said. “We are hoping to get the information on what’s going to be the most beneficial to our students and educationally what is going to be the best for us.”
Once WVCS receives the proposals from companies, the board of education will evaluate the proposals and decide on which one best meets the needs of the district. The company chosen will make a presentation to the board on Oct. 16 outlining its plan for the study. The results of the study will be presented to the board in March 2018, after which the board will decide on the next course of action. Options for the district following the results of the pre-annexation feasibility study include moving forward with a full annexation study with one district.
“The board will look at all that information in March and figure out where we want to proceed,” Lawton said. “The other piece to it that we added in at the end was are there ways, if we decide to stay as a district, that we can secure funding in different ways or find different ways to increase our enrollment or funding that we haven’t thought of yet.”
When talks of annexation started in 2015, there were also discussions about the possibility of a merger with a neighboring district, which means both districts involved would cease to exist and a new district is formed. But Lawton said that no districts were interested in a merger and were only interested in a full annexation, which means the district being annexed ceases to exist and they are absorbed into the other district.
With people within the community on both sides of the issue, Lawton added that having an outside company come in and do the pre-annexation study will be most beneficial to all sides by removing any bias.
“There is a lot to it and that is why I wanted somebody to come in as an outside expert and say factually what is going on. It’s not this person’s opinion, that person’s opinion or someone biased by wanting to keep the building open or they want to merge with Ellicottville or they want to merge with Springville,” Lawton said. “It’s a non-biased view of what is going on that the board can look at and make a decision about the future.”
The district is focused on doing what is best for the students, staff, taxpayers and the community, Lawton said.
“I want to have excellent, quality opportunities for our kids and I want to have quality extra curricular activities for our kids,” Lawton said. “We want the best for the kids and what can we give them that is really going to be beneficial … we also want what’s best for our community and we want what’s best for the taxpayer.”