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Board won't hold merger referendum

The Barker Board of Education voted unanimously Monday night against holding a nonbinding referendum to gauge public sentiment on further pursuing a merger with the adjacent Lyndonville School District.

The districts have explored the idea for the past six months, but Barker Superintendent Roger J. Klatt said district residents seemed unsatisfied with the results of the merger study.

"The board decided the details of the study were insufficient enough to not warrant the disruption of the community at this time," he said.

A committee made up of residents of both districts has been reviewing comparison data on finance, transportation, programming and staffing since the beginning of the school year to create a picture of how a merged district would function.

Both boards heard committee members say they had a lack of confidence that the state would follow through on paying the incentive aid it promises to districts that merge. For Barker and Lyndonville, it would amount to $20 million over the next 14 years.

The committee also showed concerns over transportation across a merged district, especially when it came to after-school programming. The study showed that some bus routes in a merged district would take as long as an hour to complete, about five to 10 minutes longer than either district's current longest bus ride.

Lyndonville Superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams said the two districts can find ways to help each other save money even though a full merger won't occur at this time.

"We've certainly identified a number of areas where Lyndonville could pursue conversations regarding consolidation," she said.

Klatt said that business office operations and special-education administration are two areas that Barker has identified where consolidation could save the district money.

e-mail: niagaranews@buffnews.com

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