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A 2014 study by the state Association of School Business Officials found 12 mergers took place throughout the state from 1996 to 2014. The state Education Department lays out why consolidating districts is difficult, including the fear of losing local identity, the perception that one district will benefit more than the other, uncertainty that the new board and district will operate as proposed, belief that a larger student body will result in less personal attention and opportunity for extracurricular activities and sports, concern that the new district will cost more, concern that bus rides will be longer and a fear of employees that they will lose job security. There has to be an indication of public support for the merger, and usually this is done through a straw poll, though petitions can be used.
If voters in each district approve, there is a second vote in each district.
Now, due to new legislation, federal loans are only eligible for consolidation during a grace period (when borrowers graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment), repayment or deferral.
In some cases, borrowers may consolidate federal loans that have slipped into default, but this depends on many factors.
The short answer is because the money eventually goes away.
The districts used up reserves, and residents sometimes get resentful and even hostile as taxes, which had been kept artificially low by state aid, start increasing, according to the study.
The last successful merger in Western New York was Little Valley and Cattaraugus, which became Cattaraugus-Little Valley in 2000, according to the business officials group.
Three mergers in Western New York have been rejected by voters, including Scio and Wellsville in Allegany County in 2010, Brocton and Westfield in Chautauqua County in 2013.
That alone was estimated to cost .75 million in the first year, and well over million over 10 years, according to Cleveland Hill Superintendent Jon Mac Swan.
They stopped talking about merging, but they do share services, including special education classes, technology, purchasing, staff development and joining a consortium for health care, energy purchases and workers compensation.
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He also lists 12 smaller districts in Erie County that would have the greatest net savings. Poloncarz estimated a savings in administrative costs of $1.29 million in the first year. The five Cheektowaga districts looked at consolidating four years ago.