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Young reintroduces regional high school bill as districts discuss merger

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Buffalo: Young reintroduces regional high school bill as districts discuss merger
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A bill to create regional high schools has passed in the state senate twice, but stalled in the assembly. As YNN's Mark Goshgarian tells us, until the legislation is approved, struggling school districts in Chautauqua County are exploring other options to survive.

CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY, N.Y. — Brocton Superintendent John Hertlein says he's encouraged State Senator Cathy Young reintroduced a bill to create regional high schools.

He says given the district's financial crisis, he was disappointed Governor Cuomo didn't mention the idea during his budget address.

"We're not getting the type of money from the state that we should get. We're terribly concerned and yeah, we're exhausted, because we're running out of time," said Hertlein.

Young says student enrollment in Chautauqua County has declined more than 37 percent in the last decade. She says her legislation allows high schools to form one district, and offer students more academic and athletic programs.

"It does reduce the cost, so that would be one of the outcomes, but really it's focused on the kids. It's making sure that our kids get the best they possibly can and that's what they deserve," said Sen. Young, (R), Olean.

Young's bill passed the Senate twice, but never the Assembly. She's hopeful she now has the Democratic support she needs.

"So I feel that we're closer than ever to being able to get the legislation passed," said Young.

Until legislation is passed, Brocton, like many school districts, is scrambling for an alternative, and is near the completion of a merger study with Westfield Central Schools to explore the possibility of consolidation.

"Would the instruction process of the two districts be enhanced? Would it be a better educational environment for kids if you joined the two school districts and made one?" questioned Hertlein.

Hertlein says the merger would also cut costs.

"You only need one superintendent. We're paying two. You probably only need one business manager. We have two," said Hertlein.

The study must be to the state by the 15th.

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