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SGI School Board Hears West Valley Pre-Annexation Study Results, Capital Project on Target

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By Alicia Dziak

Last week, the SGI board met to discuss a variety of agenda items for the upcoming school year.

With no old business to discuss, high school principal James Bialasik introduced recent graduate Auston Bus for a public presentation. Taking advantage of numerous school resources, Auston was able to build a functional and very personalized guitar after coming up with the idea to do so in March.

Auston said how the body of the guitar came from a friend who got it from a trash can in Brooklyn, and the story only got more interesting from there. Auston went on to explain that his favorite part of the guitar was its logo. Auston’s mom passed away in a tragic accident last year, and he really wanted her to be a part of his project. He stopped into the guidance office inquiring about any paperwork they had on file with his mom’s handwriting on it. The office was able to find the paperwork his mom filled out when Auston went to kindergarten, which Auston scanned into Photoshop and converted to a jpg file. With the help of high school tech teacher Jon Shelley, Auston was then able to use the school’s new laser to convert the jpg into a logo on the guitar.

Auston, who mostly plays the drums, joked “I’m better at building guitars than playing them,” but added that now that he has such a special one, he’s going to spend the time to get better at playing. See more on page 1.

NEXT UP, the consultants from Castallo & Silky LLC discussed the results of the pre-annexation study they conducted between West Valley Central School (WVCS) and SGI, at the request of WVCS.

SGI Superintendent Kim Moritz commended the work of the consultants for the enormous amount of work and due diligence they put into the study.

Dr. William Silky spoke first, explaining to the board that the pre-merger study is different than a full merger study, which is required by the state to move forward. An “annexation” is one of several reorganizational options available in New York state, in which one district takes in another. In this case, the potential annexation would occur with SGI “taking in” WVCS. He emphasized that this is different than a centralization, in which two districts dissolve to form a brand new district.

During the 90-minute presentation, Silky and two other associates discussed the declining enrollment of both school districts, as well as the similarities and differences between the two regarding demographics, tax rates and size.

At the conclusion, Silky said at this point, he believed there was no reason to say the annexation should be “off the table” as it is between WVCS and Ellicottville Central School, who was originally to be part of the study as well, but for a variety of reasons, that didn’t happen. Silky said there are “educational advantages for both districts” and “potential financial benefits for residents of both districts.”

IN OTHER NEWS, board president Allison Duwe said the board went on their annual retreat a couple weeks prior, and that one of the big takeaways was that they will get the message out to staff that they will support innovators and risk takers (in the classroom).

Moritz addressed the status of the capital project, reassuring that she is “confident we will open on time.” While July was mostly de-construction, August is meant for the actual construction.

“Every day I see tremendous progress,” she said, specifically mentioning projects such as the paved parking lots, sidewalks and curbs looking great. Projects are being prioritized so that ones absolutely necessary in order for school to start after Labor Day will be completed first. She is looking forward to football season starting so everyone can see the new football stadium/field and the new entranceway.

The next school board meeting will be held on Sept. 11.

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