To the Editor:
I consider the merging of schools within a county a positive move. Take Seneca County, for example, a county in which I spent 18 years as a teacher and/or elementary principal. There are only four school districts in the county. Why pay the salaries of four district superintendents, four high school principals, and a number of assistant principals? These are the highest salaried individuals within each district — well-paid individuals. When salaries are comprised of six figures, yes, they are indeed high-salaried individuals! Merging schools will not be an easy job. It requires thinking people with highly educational and organizational skills. But it can be done.
My wife and I spent the last nine years of our careers in education teaching in the south — one year in Marion County (Ocala), Fla., and eight years in Horry County (Myrtle Beach), S.C. Both those states organize their school systems county-wide. Horry County, incidentally, is the largest county east of the Mississippi River. We can’t recall since our retirement 21 years ago the exact number of high schools in these counties, but each had at least six. These were large high schools, each with a principal and assistant principal, but one — only one — superintendent. Figure it — one superintendent instead of six or more! Dollars are saved, also, by equalizing the number of students assigned to teachers. Instead of one teacher having 25 students and another having only 10 or 12, the number of students is equalized, thus saving on the number of teachers needed. Textbooks and other supplies would be disseminated more equally, as well. Teacher salaries would be determined by one salary schedule rather than one school competing against another.
There are advantages to larger schools. Larger student enrollments result in more course offerings, and courses of more selective nature can be offered. Courses offering college credit will emerge. Along with academic advantages, consider extra-curricular advantages. Use your imagination to consider what would happen to the band, the athletic teams, the number of sports offered, the chorus or choir, dramatics, debate teams. How many new clubs could be formed, technology offered? The list could go on and on.
And, in these county-wide schools, taxes are considerably lower. Our taxes in South Carolina amounted to approximately 1/10th of our New York taxes.
I would definitely vote yes for a merger!
CLAIR D. SCHAFFNER
Former teacher and principal in Geneva schools