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OFFICIALS AGREE TO TALKS ON SHARED SERVICES

Maryvale officials have agreed to sit down and talk about how the four Cheektowaga school districts can share services to save money.

In fact, Maryvale, Cheektowaga Central, Cleveland Hill and Cheektowaga-Sloan school districts may want to consider applying jointly for a state grant to study the issue, Maryvale school officials said at Monday night's Board of Education meeting at district offices.

The School Board's shared-services discussion comes after trustees received a letter from Cheektowaga Central officials. The letter invited all the Cheektowaga school systems to meet and discuss how the districts could share services to benefit both students and taxpayers.

"The purpose of this meeting would be to develop an action plan that would provide direction for subcommittees of the four boards to review in detail and report back to the larger body," said the letter from Raymond L. Carr, president of the Cheektowaga Central Board of Education.

Superintendent Gary L. Brader suggested the districts may want to apply for a grant to study the shared-services issue. A similar study was done in the late 1980s, he said.

"The time may, in fact, be right to do that again," Brader said. "I do feel a collaborative effort between four school districts . . . would be well received by the state Education Department."

Sharing services among schools and communities is a hot topic these days.

Buffalo Comptroller Joel A. Giambra recently called for the consolidation of local school bureaucracies, while keeping the county's 28 school districts intact and retaining student assignment practices.

Brader wasn't sure about grant procedures or if the other districts would want to apply. The Board of Education, however, agreed to have Brader and board officers first sit down with the other districts, then go from there.

In other matters, the School Board:

Heard an update from consultants about a proposed improvement project for the district's aging buildings. After some additions and deletions, consultants gave a new cost of $9.97 million instead of an earlier estimate of $11.2 million.

The School Board is studying whether it wants to go ahead with an improvement project, which would include roof reconstruction, heating and ventilation improvements and electrical work in the intermediate, middle and high school buildings on Maryvale Drive, as well as the primary school on Nagal Drive. If the School Board does decide to move ahead with the project, it would bond the money, which would go to the taxpayers for a vote.

Heard Brader's annual assessment-challenge report. The district has lost $23.5 million in commercial assessment the past four years thanks to assessment challenges, Brader said. Maryvale's tax rate would drop $1.22 per $1,000 assessed valuation if that assessment was still available to draw from, Brader added.

The next Maryvale Board of Education meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 12.

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