Before the Westfield and Brocton schools take the next step in a possible consolidation, a report by the consultants who worked with the districts and residents must be produced before Feb. 15.
It need not even take that long.
According to an article in this newspaper last week, the consultants have not come to a conclusion regarding whether the merger is best for the two enrollment-declining districts. "It's like being on a jury," said consultant Robert Christmann. "You listen to all the evidence before deciding on guilt or innocence. We have to stay objective; we trained ourselves to be."
But objectivity was disregarded before the process began. One consultant in this study previously publicly stated a disdain for school mergers. Another in the study has benefited financially from temporarily filling open superintendent positions due to the overabundance of districts in this county.
It must also be noted these consultants are not volunteers. They are paid for their work in this endeavor, which means they have something to gain in the process. When the consultants are done, they pick up and leave.
School board members, however, and those participating in this important task are not paid for their service and are accountable on a local level. Their service is important and appreciated.
Ongoing coverage from our staff writer Diane Chodan reveals the process has been well received from the community members involved with concerns voiced and benefits hailed.
In the end, the two districts have slashed staff, educational programming, athletics, extracurricular activities while the number of students at the districts and funds available have decreased. Do we really believe continuing down the same path is beneficial for both districts and its students, especially when the governor is talking about longer school days and years?
This report is a no-brainer, especially if it is "objective."