BROCTON - Members of the district advisory committee for the possible merger of Brocton and Westfield schools were given a guided tour of the Brocton building and then settled down to meet in the Brocton cafeteria.
Ed Schober, lead architect for Sandberg Kessler Architecture & Engineering, and John Hertlein, superintendent of Brocton schools, conducted the tour. At this time, the district is working on a capital project approved by Brocton residents in February 2011.
Color-coded maps detailed the areas where contractors are making or plan to make renovations.
The committee viewed the mechanical/electrical upgrades going on in the halls. New wiring and insulation were clearly visible. The committee looked at classrooms which now have smart boards, refurbished computer labs, a new nurse's suite nearly completed, libraries and two gymnasiums. The pool was not viewed because the electricity was off in the area. However, Schober told the group the pool is being deepened to permit diving and renovated to provide handicapped access. He also noted that the pool will no longer use chlorine but a salt-based substance.
When the committee members returned to the cafeteria to meet, the first order of business was to discuss what they had seen. Members were impressed with the cleanliness, bright space, athletic facilities, library, historical nature of the building and state-of-the-art facilities.
The group reviewed focus group input from students, senior citizens, agricultural group, and faculty and support staff. Those groups had been completed for both districts. Reports for other groups will be considered at upcoming meetings.
Marilyn Kurzawa, consultant for the Western New York Educational Service Council, which compiled the reports and conducted some of the focus groups, commented about the process.
"The attendance was not outstanding," she said. "We were hoping more people would come than we had."
She also commented on her favorable experiences with the student groups. In Brocton 51 students participated, while in Westfield 36 students did. Kurzawa said she was concerned about dealing with so many students at once.
"I have to comment on the exemplary student behavior and the candidness of the students." she said.
She noted the two groups had many common responses. Members of both groups told her they already knew students from the other district so a merger is not that scary.
Students thought the merger would provide more opportunities in classes, sports and extracurricular activities.
Other topics looked at by the committee included enrollment projections, board make-up and budget vote history, technology and course comparisons, property tax, expenses per enrolled pupil, preliminary figures of reorganization incentive operating aid and building aid that would be available in the event of a merger, and a plan to get the information out to the community.
It was agreed a summary of the meeting would be placed on each school's website. In addition, the members of the committee would post a link to that summary and possibly newspaper items on their own personal Facebook accounts so more people would be informed.
A committee member from each district will visit their respective public library to provide information about the links there. Another suggestion was to provide information to the Cable Access channel.
The Westfield district has scheduled a focus group Monday at 7 p.m. in the Auditorium at Westfield High School for parents of athletes and boosters. The meeting is open to the public.
On Nov. 29, a tour of the Westfield facility for Advisory Group members will be held at 5 p.m. At 6 p.m., the group will meet in the Large Group Instruction Room. On Dec. 11, a meeting of the advisory committee will be held at 6 p.m. in the cafeteria at Brocton. Advisory group meetings are open to the public.
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