Colgate v. Consolidation -- maybe. For now.
At last night's budget meeting, Superintendent Bowers had very good news to announce. As Radio Free Hamilton put it, Colgate Contributes $300,000 More to HCS
HCS is able to restore the equivalent of 3.5 teaching positions scheduled to be cut from the 2011-2012 budget thanks to a $300,000 contribution from Colgate.The state had planned to cut $486K; a last-minute cut reduction had restored $94K of this; now we're back within $92K of last year's situation, except that various expenses have risen. But the immediate layoffs of teachers are deferred. Yay!
Colgate's donation, which will be followed by a similar one next year, was announced at the HCS Board of Education budget presentation Tuesday night. Superintendent Dr. Diana Bowers said Colgate is willing to make two more similar donations in the future depending on need and the outcome of a potential merger with Morrisville-Eaton Central School.Actually I'm not sure she mentioned M-E by name, but the point was clear; Colgate's extra support is not forever, but might continue for two more years, unless the Hamilton district had become part of a larger district "funded in a different way." Colgate has an interest in supporting HCS as the kind of school it now is.
This doesn't take consolidation off the table, even in the short run; it does provide a substantial incentive counter-balancing the state pro-consolidation incentive, at least for now. For me as a parent whose youngest child is an 8th grader, whose grandchildren will almost certainly grow up elsewhere -- gee, I can reasonably hope that takes care of it. Probably. We'll probably muddle through for several years.
For me as a local citizen, one who wants things to go well even for current elementary school students and maybe even for those who haven't been born yet....hmm.... the upstate NY demographic prospects are still what they were. Things that can't go on forever, won't.
Is there an answer? Sure. This local school, like many similar local schools, will not go on as it is -- that's a given. But that doesn't mean that there will be no local school, just that there will be no local school based on the current model of school organization. Personally that thought doesn't bother me, because even without financial pressures I would expect the current model of schools to change. It's really not a great model; it's a 19th-century factory model, as stretched in various directions by good people trying to work inside that model.
If I were trying to get a community school model that would last for a while, I'd try to follow the people in this region and others that I talked about in Budgets, Consolidations, Charters. A charter school might work better against consolidation pressure; might be better able to adopt the sort of technology that would help it work at a smaller scale. I'd like to know what my neighbors would think about that. Of course most of the ones I know are parents of 8th-graders, or older -- maybe they'll settle for a solution that will last a few years. “Après moi, le déluge.”
Or then again, maybe not.