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Poloncarz releases report on school districts and consolidation

A new report has been released by the Erie County Executive that could change how your children are educated. Mark Poloncarz’s office took a look at school district taxes. He’s calling for districts to consider consolidation.

Poloncarz first made waves about consolidation during his state of the county address in March, when he called for districts to consider mergers, especially the ones in the Town of Cheektowaga.

The report he issued Monday served as his justification. It notes that about 52% of all taxes levied in Erie County come from school districts.

Poloncarz pointed out that if districts were to merge, they would be eligible for a 40% increase in state aid over the next five years. He specifically mentioned Alden and Akron as possibilities, in addition to North Collins and Eden.

The county executive also renewed his pitch for the five districts in Cheektowaga to merge, saying that would create at least $1.3 million in savings.

“I don’t have the power to force it, but these districts need to consider it,” Poloncarz said. “They’re losing population. When you lose population there’s less people to pay for the cost associated with the district. That means less people have to pay more.”

“The whole push by the county executive to me seems unrealistic,” said Dr. Bruce Fraser, the executive director of the Erie County Association of School Boards. “I represent the school boards. I think they’re very closer a unit of government to the people they represent. Our school board members are not hearing that there’s a tremendous push to consolidate.”

Fraser pointed out that per pupil central administrative costs across Erie County are actually lower than the New York State Average. He is against the county executive’s proposal.

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