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Long-Stalled School Collaboration Study Is Funded

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – A long stalled school collaboration study will go forward thanks to $250,000 in grants from the John R. Oishei and the Margaret L. Wendt foundations.

The study, which is being spearheaded by the Erie County School Boards Association, will explore ways the county's 29 school districts can cooperate to improve education and save taxpayer dollars. Total cost for the study initially is $375,000. Of that, local school districts contributed just over $44,000.

Jacqueline Paone, executive director of the ECASB, says the association first sought backing from the school boards for the concept of the study. That she says most were willing to do. But when the time came to seek their financial help with the study, Paone says many school boards had questions.

"They wanted more specificity about what it was that we hoped to accomplish," said Paone. "The boards, rightfully so, wanted to know what they could anticipate as a benefit for a local school district, and some concerns about time frames, when things might happen and if other boards were going to participate to make it a worthwhile endeavor."

Paone says the school boards have largely been supportive of the concept of greater collaboration. However, many school boards opted to give qualified, non-financial, support to the study. The county, which has strongly backed school collaboration, contributed $75,000 toward the study.

Paone says a consultant will be hired soon, with the study expected to begin after the first of the year.