The merger grant has been a point of frustration for the River Valleys board. At recent meetings of the board, chair Rich Werner has said that leading up to the merger, he and his fellow study committee members were under the impression that each new Act-46-compliant district would receive a $150,000 grant from the state to cover merger costs. At the board’s October 16 meeting, Werner described that impression as being “sold short,” noting that the board was surprised to learn post-merger that by adhering to the law as a side-by-side “alternative structure,” River Valleys and West River were given one $150,000 grant to share.
At the November 6 meeting, Windham Central Supervisory Union Business Manager Laurie Garland gave a presentation to the board about the specifics of the financial management system conversion, which will require building a new database for each district and adhering to a forthcoming state-mandated change to the chart of accounts used by districts. Garland and superintendent Bill Anton recommended that the new districts’ boards consider using grant funds to cover the costs, which will amount to approximately $45,000.
Werner said he didn’t feel the River Valleys board had much of a choice but to approve the expense and that he was frustrated that the funds were partially going toward the state’s new chart of accounts system, which he felt “could have been done years ago.”
“You’re allowed to use merger grant money to do this, but there are some things you can’t use it for, so the state definitely foresaw this as an opportunity,” said Werner. “I am really upset that this comes out of our dimes and that grant money. It should be something the state figured out years ago.”