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WVCS chooses Castallo & Silky for pre-annexation study

WEST VALLEY—The West Valley Central School Board of Education made a decision to go with Castallo & Silky LLC Education Consultants for its pre-annexation study during a special meeting Oct. 26.

Bill Silky, Suzanne Gilmour and Steve Bocciolatt of Castallo & Silky made a presentation and answered any questions the board had about their company and what they would do in a pre-annexation study. The board later unanimously approved to use Castallo & Silky for their pre-annexation study at the contracted rate of $18,000.

During the pre-annexation study, Silky said they will look at the same areas that are required by the New York State Education Department when doing a full annexation study, but just not in as much detail.

The study will look at enrollment history and projections, what programs and courses are being offered, the state of the facilities, transportation, staffing and the overall finances of the district. West Valley Central School, Ellicottville Central School and Springville-Griffith Institute will all be looked at in the pre-annexation study.

“We take a look at the same areas, but just not in the same detail because we don’t need to as we are trying to reach a different conclusion, ultimately should we move forward [with a full annexation study] or shouldn’t we,” Silky said.

When talks of annexation or a merger with neighboring districts started in 2015, districts were not interested in a merger with WVCS, which means both districts involved would cease to exist and a new district is formed, and were only interested in annexation, which means the district being annexed ceases to exist and they are absorbed into the other district. After a lot of discussion, it was eventually decided WVCS would go forward with a pre-annexation study with Springville-Griffith Institute and Ellicottville Central School to see what their options would be before a full study.

Along with the pre-annexation study, the board and Silky also discussed the possibilities of shared services and tuitioning out students. Board President Steve Kowalski said the board has talked about these possibilities in the past and the board asked Silky to provide them with additional information to look at this possibly for the future.

“There are so many things that I think can be used without people getting in an uproar about that is my turf or your turf or something like that … just mutual sharing would be very advantageous,” Kowalski said.

Compared to a full merger study, Silky said a pre-merger study takes much less time, with one major reason being that the state does not require an advisory committee for a pre-annexation study where one is needed for the full study. Silky said if they were to start on the pre-annexation study now, they would have information to present back to the board by March 2018, which would include any possibility of moving forward with a annexation study, what process makes the most sense and what districts it makes the most sense with.

“We are really searching for some answers,” Kowalski said. “We are not doing this just because we don’t have anything else to do … this is very, very important to us and the community.”

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