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Community leaders weigh in on Madrid-Waddington issues

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MADRID – Community leaders gathered Saturday to discuss the future of Madrid-Waddington Central School.

School Superintendent Lynn M. Roy, with support of school administrators, board of education members and St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services, organized roundtable discussions which focused on class size, tax levy limits, and possible merger or regionalization with other districts.

Approximately 20 local, St. Lawrence County and state officials including Addie J. Russell, R-Theresa, a representative of state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, and BOCES Superintendent Thomas R. Burns, attended the meeting. Responses from each of the tables were positive, Mrs. Roy said.

“We had a really good cross-section of leaders listening as well as participating,” she said. “I was impressed at the level of participation. Everyone spoke freely and openly about the challenges, offering ideas and suggestions.”

The roundtable was part of the district’s efforts to gauge public opinion on some of its key issues, primarily how to cope with increased expenditures and a lack of state funding.

Officials have said the district is five years away from financial insolvency.

In groups, community leaders were asked to rate how a merger, centralization, annexation, regionalization, or shared services with BOCES or other districts would benefit the district.

The groups were also asked whether they would support a school budget that exceeded the tax levy limit if that meant the district would be able to maintain all of its existing educational programs and class sizes.

The findings will be reviewed by the superintendent.

“I don’t have the results yet,” Mrs. Roy said. “Once we have them, we will make the results available for the entire community on our website.”

The results should be posted on the school district’s website this week, with a full presentation of the results to be given at Madrid-Waddington’s next board meeting Feb. 19, Mrs. Roy said.

The district is planning another roundtable session with another community group in the near future in order to include “more voices in the process,” Mrs. Roy said.

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