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Regional high school legislation is not certain

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DEKALB JUNCTION – The regional high school study, funded to the tune of $30,000 by Hermon-DeKalb, Heuvelton and Morristown Central Schools, is not guaranteed to result in action from Albany, according to state lawmakers who represent the region.

At Wednesday’s public forum to discuss the study Hermon-DeKalb Superintendent Ann M. Adams said, “[Assemblywoman] Addie Russell and [state Senator] Pattie Ritchie said if we come up with a model they will put forward the legislation.”

Phillip M. Martin, the educational consultant hired to conduct the study, said he hopes to develop a “working model.”

“Right now regional high schools are not legally authorized,” Mr. Martin noted.

“The effort here is to be more specific,” he added, saying the study could help direct the future actions of law makers.

And while there is no regional high school legislation proposed in Albany now, Mr. Martin said he believes there is “potential legislation,” if only there was support.

Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, said, “Whatever our communities decide they want to do I will work with them to try and make that a reality.”

But, she cautioned, that doesn’t mean she will support just any proposal that comes out of the regional high school study.

“I’m not going to say that I’m absolutely going to introduce something when I have absolutely no idea what it entails,” Mrs. Russell said. “That’s just not responsible law making.”

Sarah Compo, spokeswoman for Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, said Mrs. Ritchie “did tell [the districts] she would be glad to do anything to help them assuming the plan is workable and assuming they can get community support.”

Mrs. Ritchie and the districts “have talked about introducing legislation,” Ms. Compo said.

Mrs. Ritchie could not be reached to elaborate.

But Mrs. Russell said it’s “more complicated” than receiving the recommendations and introducing legislation.

“Waiting for regional high school legislation to be passed in Albany will likely not fit their time tables,” Mrs. Russell said, noting that Hermon-DeKalb is projecting budget shortfalls within two school years.

Morristown has projected fiscal insolvency is five years out.

“Putting in a piece of legislation doesn’t mean it is going to pass,” Mrs. Russell said. “Passing legislation is never a certainty.”

Mrs. Russell noted that previous attempts to get regional high school legislation signed into law failed.

“We shouldn’t hinge our hopes on the state legislature,” Mrs. Russell said.

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