RIPLEY - Although a regional high school is not a possibility right now, members of the Ripley Central School District seem to be open for middle and high school students attending school elsewhere.
Robert Bentley, board of education president, reported a year-end exit poll among the community asked if students in grades seven through 12 should be tuitioned to Chautauqua Lake High School if they chose. Voting yes were 127 respondents while 95 voted no.
"I think we have a direction from the community and I feel good about that," he said.
Tuitioning students to Chautauqua Lake would be a possible option for the future in the event the Ripley School District would no longer be able to function independently.
Bentley also reported on a recent round-table discussion where administrators, parents and students from the four schools were invited to take part in with state Sen. Cathy Young; state Assemblyman Andy Goodell; and state Sen. John Flanagan, education committee chairman, regarding education in this area.
Ripley ninth-grader Ryliegh Hawkins, eighth-grader Kira Mellors and seventh-grader Analise Mellors spoke to the legislators at the round-table discussion. Bentley said the Ripley students represented the school well.
"I think we have a direction from the community and I feel good about that."
Robert Bentley, Ripley board of education president
"I have never been so proud of three Ripley kids in my life," he said. "I went there with a lot of things to say and these three said them better than I ever could."
Lauren Ormsby, Ripley principal, said the variety of people who took part in the discussion provided the legislators with a clear view of the challenges faced by Ripley and the other schools.
"We brought a group of good people and I think we gave them a really well-rounded perspective," she said.
In other matters, Allen and Justine Mellors, parents of Ripley student Analise Mellors, spoke to the board about their daughter's experience of taking classes at Chautauqua Lake Central School this past year. Analise was the first student to take advantage of an intermunicipal agreement between Ripley, Chautauqua Lake, Brocton and Westfield allowing a student to attend classes their own school does not offer.
Justine Mellors said the program gave her daughter the challenges she would not have been able to receive in Ripley.
"Analise has had a wonderful year," she said. "With only so many opportunities that our community can offer, we have to combine resources."
Allen Mellors stated the only downfall to the program was a transportation issue which prevented Analise from taking Spanish classes at Chautauqua Lake because she could not get there in time.
Principal Ormsby said she believes the program will expand in the years to come.
"We tried it with one student. Our next step in the fall could be sending a larger group," she said.
Krause said the superintendents of the school districts would negotiate a tuition rate if the program expands. She expressed hope Ripley could work with Chautauqua Lake school to provide buses to an open house night so parents could go with their children to see what is available.