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School Boards Association Forms New Agency to Pursue Collaborations

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – A year-long study on school collaboration has given birth to a permanent agency that will promote sharing.

The Erie County Association of School Boards is spinning off its fundraising arm called, Promoting Partnerships in Public Education. The group was originally established to raise money for the $350,000 study by the Cornell Labor School. Its key focus now will be to promote areas for collaborations that were outlined in the study's findings.

In recent years, some of Erie County's 29 school districts have learned to save money with shared purchases and even some shared services. But Mary Michael Egan, who was co-chair of the study's task force, says they can do better.

"Education law and education funding in New York State doesn't encourage any type of collaboration," said Egan. "And if there is a way we can promote it, through our association, by public awareness, by maybe offering mini-grants for any projects that districts might come up with."

In addition to grant dollars for incentives, the ECASB will also be looking for funding to hire someone to head the new agency. The Association's Executive Director Jacqueline Paone will temporarily manage both groups. Egan says over the next six months they will be making decisions about a separate Director, as well as the key areas of collaboration the group will focus on.

"We made some priority suggestions to the Erie County (Association of) School Boards executive board, and they in turn will make recommendations to the Delegate Assembly of the association."

The Delegate Assembly meets this Thursday evening to vote on recommendations. They include promoting greater collaboration in staff development, special education and labor management.