CANASERAGA - Local school and State Education Department officials will schedule three community education forums during July, August and September to discuss the proposed merger of Alfred-Almond, Arkport and Canaseraga school districts.

Canaseraga Interim Superintendent Chad C. Groff told school board members last week that the meetings will be held July 23, August 10 and Sept. 8. “Those dates will not be officially released until our board approves the meeting dates at the Reorg(anization) meeting that will be held on (Thursday,) July 9,” Groff told the Tribune Tuesday. The advisory poll about the proposed union will then be held at each district campus Sept. 10, Groff told board members.

If voters in the three districts approve the suggested unification with the unofficial poll called a straw vote, the State Education Department will schedule the final statutory binding referendum as early as this Autumn, some observers predicted.

With the proposed union, each current district would have an elementary school with a universal Pre-K program, Arkport would house grades 6-8 and Alfred-Almond would contain the unified district high school, the report said.

A highlight of the report was the monetary incentives and savings with the proposed union: “A merged district would receive $23,569,120 in (merger) incentive operating aid over a 14-year period, (including) $2,480,960 for each of the first five years of the merger,” according to the New York State-approved final report. “Considering incentive operating aid, additional building aid, savings from staff reductions and budget efficiencies and the cost of ‘leveling up’ teacher salaries and implementing a new transportation plan, it is estimated that a merged district would realize savings and additional revenues of $8,768,766 for the first 10 years after the merger,” according to the report.

In addition to the forums, the three districts display pages of information about the merger on their websites.

The Canaseraga board agreed to distribute the district newsletter to all residents this summer through the United States Postal Service (USPS). Board members discussed the USPS price increase from $103 to $130 to mail the district newsletter to all district residents. The group mentioned options such as sending the brochure home with students and placing the document in such public locations as post offices but agreed the extra $27 assured the best distribution.