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Heuvelton disappointed by Morristown’s decision not to pursue tuitioning agreement

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HEUVELTON — Heuvelton Central School is taking a step back to examine how to encourage internal growth after the Morristown Central School District Board of Education called off a study of the benefits of sending its high school students to study at Heuvelton.

The two schools were considering splitting the cost of a $9,900 study by education consultant Phillip M. Martin that would investigate the advantages and disadvantages of sending Morristown students from grades seven to 10 to Heuvelton under a tuition agreement.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the Heuvelton Board of Education unanimously agreed to pursue the study while the Morristown Board of Education, on the same night, voted against it.

“We’re disappointed that we’re not following through with this study, but we understand,” Heuvelton Superintendent Susan E. Todd said. “No hard feelings.”

“I think we’re going to pull back and reflect,” Mrs. Todd said. “Nothing has changed, really; the board is certainly willing and interested in reaching out to neighboring districts.”

Mrs. Todd said her district hopes to pursue cost-saving measures such as shared services, tuitioning agreements or mergers with any of the districts it borders, though she said it’s too soon to say what its next step will be.

Heuvelton Central School board President Michael J. Davis, who expressed surprise at the vote by Morristown, said his goal is “to put our time and energy and resources into making Heuvelton a top performing school.”

Citing conversations with members of the Morristown Board of Education earlier in the month Mr. Davis said, “They seemed pretty confident that it was a good thing.”

“We’d be more than happy to entertain the thought of tuitioning students from other districts if other districts thought that would benefit their children more,” Mr. Davis said.

Mr. Davis, echoing Mrs. Todd, said a merger also could be acceptable. “We’re not going to turn away a merger if it benefits everyone.”

Mrs. Todd said it is difficult, at the high school level, to provide advanced placement and elective courses when not every student will enroll in them. By combining high school student populations, schools are able to offer more courses and to teach them more efficiently.

“Looking down the road, we know it is going to be increasingly challenging to provide the type of education we want to for our students,” she said. “We’re going to be fiscally responsible for our taxpayers.”

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