1982: R-H Denies West Brighton Request to Secede

  • Four decades ago, some Rush-Henrietta families who lived in West Brighton began a campaign to secede from the school district and join the neighboring Brighton school system. In fact, more than 700 people signed a petition supporting this movement. Emotions understandably ran high.

    In a January 11, 1982, story, Democrat and Chronicle reporter John Gallagher described the unusual petition as being a “controversial request.” If approved, 333 students would be removed from Rush-Henrietta and become part of the Brighton Central School District.

    At the same time, $1.7 million in tax revenue would leave Rush-Henrietta and be shifted to Brighton. That is the equivalent today of more than $5 million when adjusted for inflation.

    Based on a community vote, West Brighton merged with the relatively new Rush-Henrietta Central School District in 1955. There were many happy times, but some West Brighton parents began to consider leaving the district in 1981. At that time, due to declining enrollment, Rush-Henrietta shuttered Crittenden Elementary School, the only local elementary school in that neighborhood.

    The Democrat and Chronicle addressed the issue in its February 14, 1982, edition. Its report noted, “Three schools have closed in the Rush-Henrietta School District since 1978, but none generated the controversy that closing the Crittenden Elementary School in West Brighton did.”

    Those in favor of the change argued that if both districts gave the green light, it could legally be done. However, Robert Wendt, Rush-Henrietta’s longtime school attorney, maintained that, if the Rush-Henrietta Board of Education had approved the move, it ultimately would have needed the OK of the state commissioner of education.

    Eventually, elected officials had to make a decision. “After a long, emotional meeting, the Rush-Henrietta Board of Education voted unanimously last night to deny the request by some parents in the West Brighton area to secede from the district,” the newspaper account shared.

    The discussion continued for at least another year. On May 13, 1983, the Democrat and Chronicle reported that Brighton Board Vice President Nathan Jaschik said, “I’m not convinced there is any compelling reason the adjustment should be made.”

    Those favoring the switch at the time may have believed Brighton offered greener grass. Of course, they had no way of knowing one day USA Today Network would rank Rush-Henrietta as the No. 1 school district in Monroe County.

    We are proud of our students who live in West Brighton and happy that the ultimate form of school redistricting did not occur. The families who live in that corner of our district remain an integral part of our school community!

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