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Regional high school legislation is not certain

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DEKALB JUNCTION – The $30,000 regional high school study funded by the Hermon-DeKalb, Heuvelton and Morristown school districts is not guaranteed to result in action from Albany, cautioned state lawmakers who represent St. Lawrence County.

At Wednesday’s public forum to discuss the study, Hermon-DeKalb Superintendent Ann M. Adams said Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell and state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie told school officials that “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,” he said.

“The effort here is to be more specific,” he added, saying it could influence lawmakers.

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

Mrs. 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 said, that doesn’t mean she will support just any proposal that comes.

“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 Mrs. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, said the senator told 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.

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 timetables,” Mrs. Russell said, noting that Hermon-DeKalb is projecting budget shortfalls within two school years.

“Passing legislation is never a certainty,” she said.

Mrs. Russell said that previous attempts to get regional high school legislation signed into law failed. “We shouldn’t hinge our hopes on the state Legislature,” she said.

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