Clymer School Residents Must Remain Engaged In District’s Issues

Clymer Central School taxpayers don’t anticipate asking voters for a tax increase more than the state’s 2 percent tax cap next year.

That’s good news, but we hope it doesn’t mean voters retreat into the woodwork while the district is still trying to figure out its future.

The past few years have been hard for Clymer residents. In 2018, the community defeated a proposed merger with Panama Central School before voting down the first budget proposed by the school board. A second budget proposal that spent a large chunk of the district’s reserves was approved with the caveat from school board members that a big tax increase would be coming in 2019.

The ensuing 13.29 percent tax levy increase in 2019 was defeated in May, with a revised budget asking for an 8.8 percent tax increase was approved a couple of weeks ago.

Passing the budget meant board members and Superintendent Ed Bailey could exhale a bit, but Bailey and the board have some serious questions to answer over the next couple of years. There were several non-binding resolutions on the ballot for the second budget vote that sought to gauge public opinion on the district’s future actions. Merging (691-278) and using shared services (770-185) were the favored options while redistricting and itioning students were received unfavorably — by a vote of 377 to 531 against and 351 to 562 against, respectively.

The guidance is confusing, because district voters defeated a merger less than two years ago. That decision has prompted Panama Central School officials to say they aren’t interested in merger discussions anytime soon. Sherman Central School chose not to sign on to the proposed Clymer-Panama merger, opting instead to see how the merger went and possibly join into a merged district sometime in the distant future. District officials have been tasked with a difficult direction. The shared services vote is similarly difficult because, in the wake of the failed merger with Panama, several shared positions, including district superintendent, went by the wayside.

School district officials will do what they can to follow those directions, but Clymer residents should know they will need to stay involved as district officials go through these processes. It will take time to build the trust and relationships that can lead down the path to mergers and partnerships, and possible partners will want to know that Clymer residents are on board before studies are done and plans are made.

Voter turnout and attendance at recent meetings shows Clymer residents truly care about the fate of their school. That passion can’t wane when programs aren’t on the chopping block next year. The time is now to make plans for the next generation of Clymer students.