Massena Central School Board accepts bid for consolidation study

Written by BOB BECKSTEAD.

- Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — A Syracuse educational consulting firm will perform a consolidation study for the Massena Central School District.

During their meeting Thursday night, Board of Education members accepted a bid from Castallo & Silky to conduct the school consolidation feasibility study. They were among three firms that bid on the project.

 

Castallo & Silky is an educational consulting firm that specializes in school administrator placement, curriculum management, and school organization studies.

Many board members will recognize one of the main principals who will be working on the study.

Alan Pole conducted the last superintendent search for the district. He’ll be joined by Jessica Cohen, who recently worked with Mr. Pole on an operational study for the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

“Their references were excellent,” Superintendent Patrick H. Brady said, noting the firm had worked in areas such as school mergers, building closures, and efficiencies.

Mr. Pole and Ms. Cohen will attend the July 5 board meeting to discuss their plan and timeline for conducting the study, Mr. Brady said.

The proposal presented to and approved by the board calls for community input into the study. They’ll meet with a committee of stakeholders and will then hold monthly open sessions in each of the district’s schools to solicit community input. That would bring “transparency to the process,” said board member Kevin Perretta, chairman of the district’s Facilities Committee.

The issue of possible consolidation was first addressed during the 2014 budget process. Bruce Fraser, a consultant from the New York state Rural Schools Association, provided them with three potential options for cost savings.

One of those was to move seventh- and eighth-grade students to the high school and close J.W. Leary Junior High School. A second option would move grade eight to the high school, putting grades five through seven at the junior high and closing one elementary school, with the other two housing pre-kindergarten through grade four.

The final option was to move grades seven and eight to the high school, put grades four through six at the junior high and have prekindergarten through grade three at Nightengale Elementary School, closing Jefferson and Madison elementary schools.

But board members said during recent meetings that they would prefer to have another firm do a study and provide them with recommendations, which they will now receive from Mr. Pole and Ms. Cohen.