Clymer Upset Over ‘Inaccurate’ Merger Study

On the night he was officially sworn into his new position, Clymer Superintendent Ed Bailey told The Post-Journal the Clymer Board of Education anticipates next year’s school tax rate will go over the tax cap when the budget is finished later this year.

During Monday’s board meeting, members of the district raised concerns of anticipated tax increases as well as discrepancies in the merger study involving Panama and Clymer school districts conducted by Learning Design Associates last year.

Members from the board maintained that some aspects of the final merger study were inaccurate and attempts to find answers as to why have gone unsuccessful. One voter from the district told the board she felt “deceived” and thought the board should inquire about a refund. The board said on Monday that around $21,000 was paid to Learning Design Associates for the study. The board asked Bailey to reach out to the district’s attorney on how to proceed and figure out what options the school has.

“The merger study team presented numbers that the board disagreed with and so there seems to be some controversy over who made the mistake,” Bailey said.

As for the budget, Bailey said the process is ongoing and noted there was no official number on the tax increase yet. If taxes were to be increased over the tax cap, the district would then have to vote on the increase. The district would need 60 percent of the voters to vote in favor of the increase in order for it to be approved.

“There’s a strong chance it’s going to be over the cap,” Bailey said.

The board will hold a final budget work session on March 21 regarding the upcoming budget proposal.

During the board meeting, Bailey said if the increase is not supported in the district then the school will have to look at cutting programs. Mike Schenck, board president, said at the last work session the overwhelming opinion was to avoid cutting programs.

In other news, Brett Muscarella, high-school principal, updated the board on student safety. Muscarella said the New York State Troopers and Chautauqua County Sheriff’s have been conducting walkthroughs in the school as a safety precaution. The principal also noted that Clymer will allow their students to participate in the Wednesday’s “walk out” in honor of the 17 victims in the Parkland, Fla., shooting. Students will be allowed to use the cafeteria as their “walk out” location at 10 a.m.