Local Schools


By John Leahy

Background Introduction:

New York State, like many states, is going along with the current trend in education policy to close outlying rural schools in a centralization initiative. The idea is to be fiscally more efficient by providing services for all at fewer locations. Children are brought by bus on longer commutes to one central location in the school district, rather than maintaining satellite local schools in their own communities where the commuting time for the children is shorter as they attend school in the town or village where they live. The policy, particularly in the economic climate of year 2010, has caused a lot of debate and controversy as government bodies struggle to achieve more with smaller resources and local populations struggle to protect the quality of life in their communities. Often, local school boards in New York State are attempting to follow the State Commissioner’s directive irregardless of negative impacts on other aspects of community life or economics. This is the background framework for this recent letter to the editors at the Eastwick Press in Eastern Rensselaer County.

New Demographic Policy Guidance for Grafton School District

The Berlin Central School District wants to close the Grafton school and bus the Grafton kids down to the crumbling Berlin school building to save money for the district tax payers. Saving money will be important, especially as the loss of a local school will probably have a strong negative effect on Town of Grafton’s economy as desirability to locate in Grafton plummets, property values decline and tax revenues drop. Grafton residents, known for their enthusiasm for the rugged outdoors lifestyle, at least can take pleasure in knowing that their children will be brought up right as they will be exposed to plenty of fresh air as the windows of the Berlin school building are frequently kept wide open in winter to counterbalance the blasting heat that can’t be turned off in this antiquated building with its obsolete maintenance system. But no worries, mate! We will spend $15 or $20 or maybe $25 million dollars to renovate the myriad of problems in this building and that will save a lot of money and local tax payers will be very happy.

One major factor that was cited as a reason for closing the Grafton school was demographics. According to a tremendously in-depth consultant survey that must have taken at least a minimum of ten minutes to produce, the school age population of Grafton is shrinking. The consultant, using a scientifically rock solid methodology of basing projections for long term population trends on a mere 5 years of data, showed that Grafton school age population had dropped over a 5 year period (actually they mixed up Grafton and Stephentown data but no matter) and deduced with fool proof logic that this trend would continue indefinitely until someday down the road the empty halls of the Grafton school would only echo the foot steps of mice as the last remaining school age Grafton child walked out the door and took the rights of passage on the bus to 4th grade in Berlin. Naturally, the Berlin Central School District was wise enough to see the merit of this reasoning and has stoutly relied upon this splendid gem of a study as they repeated their mantra that centralization is always best, regardless of course of the costs to community quality of life.

In stating that Grafton adults are not producing enough children to bother educating them in their own town, one wonders what the consultant and the School District are really saying about the adults of Grafton. Could they be snidely implying that Grafton taxpayers are not pulling their weight and doing their fair share in reproductive activity? Should Grafton adult residents be engaging in more productive pastimes, rather than sinking into lethargy about local demographics as another evening spent with American Idol goes by? What would the Berlin Central School District say if Grafton residents went on a bacchanalian tear and drove the school age population up 20% with a Mardi Gras festive spirit? While Grafton stolidly reproduced, the Board would sure have egg on its face. This could be a new policy direction for Grafton taxpayers.

I mean, if you’re going to get a screwing anyway……

Categories : Education Policy