Clifton Springs, N.Y.—A lengthy feasibility study performed by the Center for Governmental Research found that regional high schools would not provide immediate financial relief in Ontario County.
“The model shows that you can either save some money, a nominal amount, or you could spend more money in a regional high school study,” said Midlakes Superintendent Michael Ford.
CGR found that a regional district model would cost between $44 and $52 million per year.
“When impacts on the remaining K-8 districts are included, the regional model could save as much as $12 million annually under the most cost-effective set of management assumptions. Alternatively, the regional model may cost as much as $5 million annually,” said CGR.
Midlakes is among the Ontario County districts that have seen a significant enrollment decline in recent years to go along with losses in state aid felt by districts statewide.
Ford said the CGR study begins the conversation but both he and the lead researcher feel it may not be the solution for skyrocketing costs, meager course offerings and long bus rides experienced by some of the county’s student population.
“It will probably lead us in a direction other than regional high schools,” said Ford.
CGR reiterates that costs were not the sole purpose of studying regional high schools in Ontario County.
“If savings are the only consideration, this probably isn’t the way to go in short term at least,” said Kirstin Pryor Senior Associate, CGR Inc.
In 2010, CGR completed a similar study for Wayne County. It found that dropping the number of high schools from 11 to four regional schools would cut costs by about three percent.
Community advocates, researchers and educators have called for the approach in Monroe County as a way of improving the Rochester City School District according to Pryor.
Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES secured a state grant that paid for the CGR study.