Two hundred eighty-two Ripley residents got it right when they voted in favor of a tuitioning proposal Tuesday night.
For years, area school districts and residents have been talking about and studying proposals to share services, but nobody ever acted on them.
Not since Chautauqua and Mayville residents voted to merge schools more than 15 years ago have residents set emotions to the side and done what was best for the students.
The youth of Ripley will have better options and opportunities now that residents have voted in favor of tuitioning. What is important is preparing students for life after high school, notably college. With more class offerings, Ripley students will now be better served.
Also, there is no reason to think students are going to "get lost in the crowd" as a result of this vote. Even if Ripley were going through with a full-blown merger with Chautauqua Lake, for example, a graduating class would still struggle to reach 80 students.
Money wasn't the deciding force behind the vote, but a small cost savings may also be seen through the move.
It is unfortunate that some teachers may lose their jobs due to the decision, but with declining enrollments and the county population dwindling over the past 10-20 years, this should be expected. Even with the change and potential for fewer teachers, the student-to-teacher ratio will be low enough to ensure each child's education is intact.
Discussions such as these are about right-sizing our schools to improve educational opportunities for the students and also to be more efficient, which should save taxpayer dollars.
Let Ripley be an example for other small Chautauqua County school districts to follow. Do what's right and do what's smart. Begin the discussions and look at sharing services or consolidating with neighboring small school districts.