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Citizen panel will study merger for Canton and Potsdam

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CANTON - A joint advisory committee, made up of 14 Canton Central School District and 14 Potsdam Central School District residents, is being created to explore the idea of merging the two neighboring school districts.

The 28-member panel will be comprised of various stakeholders so that different viewpoints are represented, ranging from high school students to senior citizens.

“We tried to hit every stakeholder group and come up with a process that’s as transparent as possible,” said Canton School Superintendent William A. Gregroy.

The Canton Central Board of Education approved the committee format this week, and the Potsdam Board is scheduled to vote on the measure at its 7 p.m. Tuesday meeting.

The advisory group will work with consultants from Western New York Educational Services, a Buffalo-based group that’s being paid $48,000 to perform the comprehensive study.

The community panel will meet six times for three hours, with sessions alternating between Canton and Potsdam. The first session is tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. Nov. 20 in the Potsdam High School library. The consultants will facilitate the meetings.

“Board members and school administration, faculty and staff, students and parents, and the public at large are invited as observers,” Mr. Gregory said.

Potsdam School Superintendent Patrick A. Brady said there will be opportunities throughout the process for non-committee members to offer input.

“We’ll be hearing from many different people, not just the committee,” he said. “Our goal is to be able to receive a variety of perspectives because this is such an important project that could potentially have a long-term impact on the school and community.”

All prospective committee members must be residents of the school districts they are representing. Mr. Gregory and Mr. Brady met earlier this week with Roger Gorham, one of the consultants, to determine the make-up of the joint advisory committee and the selection process.

Each community will have the following representatives:

■ Three parents, one from elementary, middle and high school, who will be selected by respective parents’ groups.

■ Two teachers chosen by the teachers’ associations.

■ One high school student selected by the student council.

■ One non-teaching staff. At Potsdam, the Civil Service Employees Association will make the selection. At Canton, the selection will be made by lottery from a pool of nominees from each staff association.

■ Two from higher education - one each from SUNY Canton and St. Lawrence University in Canton and from Potsdam, one each from SUNY Potsdam and Clarkson University. These members will be selected by the respective university chiefs of staff or the equivalent.

■ One school administrator, selected by respective administrators’ association.

■ One from the business community, selected by the respective chambers of commerce.

■ One senior citizen, selected by lottery from a pool of at-large volunteers or nominations.

■ One from arts, selected by respective Music Friends organization.

■ One from athletics, selected by respective athletics booster clubs.

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