Castallo and Silky LLC in the
During the 2017-18, Castallo & Silky LLC associates Jessica Cohen and Alan Pole
conducted a facilities study for the Oneida City School District. Now the Board of Education is conducting a follow-up
to the study by implementing the recommendations and Mr. Pole and Dr. Cohen made in their report. Read about these plans
and watch the video of Superintendent Mary Margaret Zehr in this report from News Channel 2 in Utica on December 17, 2018 to see what these plans include.
The Cheektowaga Chronicle, in its March 8, 2018 edition, reported that Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz is encouraging school districts in the county to consider merging.
In the article, Dr. Silky is quoted as a merger consultant expressing why districts typically do not choose this option.
Read the article and see what the County Executive is proposing.
The Lockport (N.Y.) Union-Sun & Journal reported in its November 17, 2017 article that Castallo & Silky LLC has been hired by the Barker Central School District Board of Education
to assist the Board in its efforts to hire a new Superintendent of Schools. Dr. Roger Klatt is retiring at the end of
this school year after having served as a shared superintendent for several years. On April 2, 2018, the Union-Sun & Journal reported that the Board has narrowed its search to three finalists and on April 10th the Buffalo News reported that Jacob Reimer, Assistant Superintendent at Brockport CSD, was
appointed by the Board as Barker's new Superintendent.
The Springville Journal in Western New York reported on November 2, 2017 that Castallo & Silky LLC has been hired to conduct a pre-merger study of the West Valley, Springville-Griffith
and Ellicottville school districts. The purpose of the study is to determine if West Valley and one of the other districts
should move forward into a full merger study. The Castallo & Silky LLC study team will be led by
Bill Silky with associates Suzanne Gilmour and Steve Bocciolatt assisting in the effort. And on January 9, 2018, the Salamanca Press reported that financial information had been secured from Ellicottville School District as
part of the study process, however in another article from the Olean Times Herald on January 10th, the Ellicottville Board of Education indicated it has declined to participate in the study. And in the March 14th edition of the paper, among other business of the West Valley Board of Education, it was reported that the draft final report was
delivered to the school districts for review. On June 20th the Olean Times Herald noted that the 2018-19
West Valley school budget was defeated for a second time and the district must now go on a contingent budget and in the same article it was reported that the Pre-Merger Study final report is scheduled to be presented to the Board of Education
on Thursday, June 21st. Later, in both the Olean Times Herald and the Salamanca Press on June 22nd, articles on the final report presentation describe what the West Valley Board heard and
the Springville community also read an article on June 28th in the Springville Journal reporting about the meeting. Finally, the Springville
Journal on August 17, 2018 reported that Castallo & Silky LLC associates delivered the final report to the Springville-Griffith
Board of Education (despite several factual mistakes in the article). Read all these articles to follow the progress
of this study!
The Evening Tribune, in its August 27, 2017 edition, reported that the Canaseraga Central School District (N.Y.) Board of Education voted to enter an annexation study
with its neighboring district, Arkport, and has invited Castallo & Silky LLC to conduct the study.
Castallo & Silky LLC has worked with both districts on previous school studies so was the logical choice
of the boards to take this next step. In a follow-up article on October 16, 2017 the Tribune reported that the two boards of education were reviewing the timeline for completion of the study that
was submitted for consideration to the boards by Castallo & Silky LLC associate Alan Pole. Read
these articles to see what assurances were agreed upon by the boards and the timeline for the study.In the November 2, 2017 edition of the Evening Tribune an article appeared that told how the Canaseraga district was selecting members to
serve on the merger study committee. On November 9th, the Hornell News reported that the two districts were testing their compatibility with the merger study and in
a November 20th article the Evening Tribune announced that the two districts had appointed members to serve on the study Advisory
Committee. The Genesee County Express in its December 15th edition and the Hornell Evening Tribune on the same day both covered the first meeting of the merger study Advisory Committee meeting earlier in the week. In its December 26th edition, the Evening Tribune reported that the athletic program merger the two districts have begun will continue in 2018
as yet another step in the district of a possible complete merger of the two districts and in a follow-up article on March 4, 2018 the Evening Tribune shares how the districts are going about having students identify a new mascot for the joint
athletic teams. The Evening Tribune, in it's April 17, 2018 article covers the merger study Advisory Committee meeting of the night before that outlined the staff
and finance implications of a possible annexation of Canaseraga by Arkport. The Evening Tribune on August 19, 2018 reported the Arkport Board of Education voted, among other agenda items, to conduct a straw vote in its community on
the issue of merger. Then, in its September 7th edition, the Evening News discusses the fall athletic season for the joint athletic
teams of the two districts and mentions the boards are now ready to hold straw votes on the complete merger of the two districts.
The Tribune in its September 30th edition tells of the community meeting in Canaseraga to inform the community of the report recommendations
and upcoming straw vote and in its October 7th edition the paper reminds residents of both districts of the advisory (straw) vote on Tuesday, October 9th and the October 9th edition shares the results of the vote. The districts then went to the final and binding
vote. See the results of this long process in the November 13th issue of the Tribune.
The Watertown, N.Y. Daily Times reported in its June 19, 2017 edition that the Massena Central School District had hired Alan Pole and Jessica Cohen (associates at Castallo & Silky
LLC) to conduct a study of the district's grade and building configuration. The article mentions that this
study is a follow-up to a 2014 building consolidation study that was completed for the district. Then it a follow-up
article on July 6th, the Daily Times describes an initial meeting with the Massena Board of Education that outlined the study process
and formation of a stakeholder Advisory Committee. The North Country Now News on July 7th also indicated the Board was looking for volunteers to serve on the Advisory Committee and in a follow-up article on August 17th the names of the committee members were offered. The Watertown Daily Times, in its September 21, 2017 edition, reported on the first committee meeting at which Jessica Cohen provided enrollment projections for the district
while the next day (September 22nd) the paper added more information on the topics discussed at the first meeting. On November 18th, the Watertown Daily News provided a recap of the first Advisory Committee meeting and in its December 20th edition the Daily Times reported the Advisory Committee was to meet that evening and the focus of the meeting would
be on the district's facilities. In the January 14, 2018 issue of the Watertown Daily Times, the paper summarized the thrid meeting of the Advisory Committee. Later, in
the April 13, 2018 edition, the Advisory Committee heard an overview of the district's finances as reported in the Watertown
Daily Times. Finally, the North Country Now news website on June 21, 2018 and the Watertown Times on June 25th reported that Alan and Jessica had delivered their final report to the Massena Board of Education. Once the report
was presented, the Board of Education is making plans to do a capital project based on the study's recommendations according
to the Watertown Daily Times on July 7, 2018. Finally, in the September 20th edition of the paper it was reported that the Board of Education will be holding a public hearing on the studies recommendations
that evening. Read all these articles to follow the study progress.
The Ft. Edward UFSD (N.Y.) Board of Education has asked Castallo & Silky LLC to
discuss possible future options for the district in terms of possibly consolidating the district with another district or
perhaps sharing services with other school districts. The Glens Falls Post-Star reported in its June 13, 2017 edition that a meeting has been arranged with a representative of the consulting firm to discuss a possible study to examine these
issues. The Post-Star several months later (the January 18, 2018 edition) reported that the Ft. Edward Board has decided that it would look for a partnering district to consider doing a pre-merger
study and invite Castallo & Silky LLC to conduct the study. In a follow-up article on January 20th, Linda Goewey, the Superintendent in Hudson Falls indicated if Ft. Edward wants to discuss a pre-merger study with her district,
Fr. Edward would have to agree to pay for the cost of the study. In the final analysis, Hudson Falls decided not to
participate in the study because of the fee it would be charged. Much later however, Ft. Edward was able to get the
South Glens Falls Central School District, another contiguous district, to engage in an annexation pre-merger study.
The Glens Falls Post-Star has an aritcle in its December 13th edition about this study and shares the insights of Scott Osborne, Superintendent of Elizabethtown-Lewis
Central School District that recently voted to merge with Westpoort. See what Scott has advised. And, on the same
day (December 13th), the Albany Times Union reported on the study and quotes Dr. Silky about the areas of district
operation that will be examined.
The Sun, a newspaper from Northern New York, reported on May 11, 2017 the Bill Silky and Alan Pole of Castallo & Silky LLC had kicked off a merger study of the Elizabethtown-Lewis
and Westport Central School districts at a joint meeting of the two school districts' Boards of Education. The article
describes the timeline for the study and the role of the Advisory Committee. An aritcle in the May 16th Plattsburg Press Republican reported that the Board of Education is appointing an Advisory Committee to work with
the consultants and a follow-up article on May 21st outlines what was covered at the initial meeting of the boards.. This full merger study is a follow-up to a pre-merger study
involving the two districts and one other area school district that was completed last year. The Plattsburgh Press
Repulbican editorial on June 15th urged people in the districts to not judge the merger until the study has been complete and the plan for a merged district
is developed. In a follow-up article on August 15th, the Sun reported that the Advisory Committee was holding its first meeting on August 23rd and a follow-up article
on August 30th describes what was covered at this first meeting. The Plattsburg Press Republican also covered the meeting
in its August 30th edition. The next meeting in September covered and overview of district programs as reported in the Sun on
October 3rd. In an article on November 3rd, The Sun described how the districts would benefit from receipt of additional building aid if they elected to become
a single district. In its December 13th issue, the Sun summarized the meeting on transportation that took place a week earlier and so did the Plattsburgh
Press-Republican on December 15th.The Plattsburg Press Republican reported in its February 5, 2018 edition on the meeting of the Advisory Committee that covered a comparison of district employee contracts and an article
on March 6th reported on the finance meeting the Advisory Committee in late February. Similarly, an article also appeared in The
Sun on March 9th that also covered the financial overview meeting of the committee. The Plattsburgh Press Republican reported
on April 24, 2018 that the two superintendents in the districts had gone on record as supporting the merging of the districts
and in its May 2nd article, the paper reported on the final meeting of the Advisory Committee at which it reviewed the draft final report
to go the State Education Department. The paper then reported the individual opinions of the Advisory Committee members
that were shared at this last meeting in its May 14th edition. The Sun article on July 3, 2018 summarized the study findings and recommendations from a presentation by Castallo &Silky
LLC associates to a joint session of the school boards. Another article on July 24, 2018 in the Plattsburgh Press Republican, a committee member that had visited another district resulting
from a merger reported on his findings. The Press Republican on September 14th noted that both boards of education have voted to put the merger question out to their respective publics
for an advisory (straw) vote on October 9th which passed in both district. Then an information flurry occurred including
a panel discussion of experts hosted by the Sun Times which you can view here. Finally, on December 4, 2019 both communities voted to merge their two respective districts as
reported by the Plattsburgh Press-Republican!
The Olean (NY)Times Herald reported on November 19, 2016 that Alan Pole, senior associate with Castallo & Silky LLC has been hired to assist the local school
district's Board of Education in its efforts to hire a new Superintendent of Schools. The Board President was quoted
as saying that Alan was selected from three competing firms and he was chosen due to his strong references. Then in its January 12, 2017 edition, the Times Herald indicated that the retiring Superintendent, Ms. Colleen Taggerty, has agreed to extend
her contract to allow the district to have a smooth transition to the new Superintendent. The Times Herald,
on February 24, 2017, reported the results of a stakeholder survey invite participants to share thoughts on desired attributes of the next Superintendent
with the Board. Read what these stakeholders thought was most important. And, on May 9, 2017, the Salamanca Press reported that the Olean School Board appointed Mr. Rick Moore, a former Superintendent in Salamanca
but currently Superintendent in Belleville-Henderson Central Schools near Watertown, as its new Superintendent. The paper
then reported in its June 2, 2017 edition how the search this time in Olean differed from the previous Superintendent search when Colleen Taggerty was hired.
Finally, on July 12, 2017 the paper describes the contracted salary of the new Superintendent.
On February 11, 2013, the New York State School Boards Association presented Dr. Silky's thoughts on
school districts conducting a pre-merger study prior to engaging in a full study. Dr. Silky's article encourages school boards to follow the lead of four Seneca County districts that invited Castallo & Silky LLC
to do a pre-merger study that explored eight possible options and resulted in recommending only three as feasible and deserving
of further in-depth study.
Dr. Silky advises school boards to carefully study some important variables before embarking on a school
district merger study. His caution was printed in the March 3, 2011 edition of the Syracuse (N.Y.) Post-Standard. Read what Dr. Silky had to say!
The Syracuse.com website posted Dr. Silky's opinion piece on April 17, 2015 regarding who or what to blame (or not blame) for not getting better K-12 student outcomes. Fed up
with using teachers a the single scapegoat, he argues that the problem is much more complex. Take a look and see how he frames
The Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard's March 4, 2012 edition's lead article discusses recent interest by Central New York school districts in possibly merging with neighboring districts.
Among other experts on school organization, Dr. Silky was asked to comment for this story. Bill outlines the reasons
why districts entertain the concept as well as why it is difficult to achieve. And, in the March 7th editorial of the Post-Standard he is again quoted as the editorial staff argue that now is the time to consider district merger.
Read what he and others had to say!
Writing in the New York State School Boards' Association's publication,
OnBoard (March 2009), Dr. Silky raises the issue if school district merger is the answer to a district's financial woes. With
his extensive experience conducting school reorganization studies, Dr. Silky has a unique experience to offer to any school
district considering merging with a neighbor.
The Syracuse Post-Standard
, in it's May 20, 2012 edition
published a letter to the editor from Dr. Silky regarding the negative impact the new New York State tax cap is having on
school district. He claims that, despite positive recent school district budget votes, schools have had to cut back
programs, lay off staff, and take other measures to conform to the tax cap limitations. In essence, Dr. Silky believes
that public education is beginning to gradually crumble and unless the tax cap is repealed, it will change radically in future
years. Then in a more recent (March 3, 2015) follow-up article
on Syracuse.com he cites two research studies that describe the long-term negative impact that tax caps have had on the schools
in California and Massachusetts. Read both of these publications by Dr. Silky!