By Rich Place

The Ellicottville Central School’s senior class trip is in danger of falling through for a third straight year as a movement for a potential alternative trip amongst the class has impacted the cost of the original plan.

On Tuesday, ECS Superintendent Bob Miller told the school board only 18 students turned in a deposit for the trip after 35 of the 39 students in the grade originally expressed interest. In November, two students presented to the board plans for the trip, scheduled for May 19- 21 in Lake George. The board later in the meeting approved the trip.

“I’ve been hearing rumors and confirming a little bit that there is a movement for some to take their own trip, or an alternative trip with parents,” Miller told the board. “That will impact the ability of the trip that we can provide as a school district. It will drive the cost up.”

He said the trip is “in limbo,” and although he has not been officially approached about an alternate trip, he said he’s “seen enough information out there to see it’s being planned.”

A senior in attendance at the meeting — who was there to observe the meeting for a class assignment — told the board that when the idea for the trip was initially presented, it was interpreted that the class would have more control over what it was able to do on the trip.

However, the student said they were handed itineraries already planned without a lot of feedback from students. Miller said he would ask the advisors about the issue.

The senior class was originally presented with the option of attending a trip with the French Club to Quebec — allowing them to travel with the group for a discounted rate, but come up with their own activities once they are there — but they were not interested, Miller said.

“If it doesn’t go, this will be the third year that we’ve planned a trip, done the work, you guys have approved it and then it hasn’t taken place,” Miller told the board.

Miller, who previously served as high school principal, said he will talk to seniors about alternatives — such as a day trip — if the cost of the trip continues to increase as participation declines. He also added he will work with high school principal Erich Ploetz to find better ways to get stronger commitments from seniors early in the trip planning process.

Also at the school board meeting, the board heard brief public comment from John Zerfas, a 17-year veteran of the Ellicottville Town Planning Board and a recent winner of a seat on the Ellicottville Town Board.

Zerfas asked the board to keep those, like him, in mind who live within the Ellicottville town boundary but are part of the West Valley school district when making decisions about West Valley’s future. He said about 300 of the 2,700 parcels in the town of Ellicottville are within the West Valley school district.

In late October, the West Valley School Board hired a consulting firm to conduct a pre-annexation study to look at options associated with potential future partnerships with neighboring Ellicottville and Springville-Griffith school districts.

“It’s in the interest of the town of Ellicottville for those parcels to be represented by this board and any decisions that would affect the future of those properties,” Zerfas told the board. “What I’m personally asking you guys is that you would at least take that into consideration when you do make a decision or make decisions regarding that issue.”

The Ellicottville School Board has taken no formal action concerning West Valley’s decision to conduct the study; Miller told the board in November he has been asked to provide facts and figures to contribute to the study. The board last month discussed potentially meeting with West Valley’s school board to discuss the study in further detail.

IN OTHER BUSINESS, • Miller told the board there is potential, due to “proximity and convenience,” Ellicottville could send its swimmers to Salamanca instead of Allegany-Limestone next fall. He said, “that’s nothing against Allegany(-Limestone). We’ve had a good relationship with them … we’re happy they’ve let us do that — we are just considering all our possibilities and options at this time.”

• All three of the school’s robotics teams that competed Nov. 18 in a regional qualifier at Houghton College have advanced to a competition scheduled for Dec. 10 at University of Rochester, reported Ploetz. The sixth grade team, Disco Bricks, placed first out of 20 schools in overall score at the regional qualifer; the fifth grade team of Fuzzy Logic placed third and the seventh and eighth grade team, Drain Matter, finished fifth. The team is advised by Chris Edwards.

The next meeting of the Ellicottville School Board of Education is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018 in the high school library.