WXXI AM News

Harley School, Allendale Columbia plan to merge

Apr 30, 2019

Two well-known Rochester-area private schools plan to merge.

The boards of trustees at The Harley School and Allendale Columbia have begun the process to formally affiliate the schools, according to a news release. The final agreement is expected to be signed by June 30.

Under the agreement, Harley would assume operational responsibility for the two schools.

The schools said students and families can expect “few changes” this year and next school year. Students now in grades 11 and 12 will graduate from their current schools.

Harley and Allendale Columbia already share programs and activities, such as joint athletic programs, combined proms and a unified Middle School MathCounts team. They also conduct other joint social activities each year.

Scott Frame, president of the Board of Trustees for The Harley School, said in a statement that combining the schools “has been a topic of conversation for decades.”

“This affiliation sets the stage for another 100-plus years of exceptional, student-focused, academic excellence,” Frame said.

Charles Symington, chair of Allendale Columbia’s Board of Trustees, said in a statement that students would “continue to be the drivers of all we do.”

“This affiliation will leverage the strengths of each school to combine into an even more powerful force working to guide our students into their futures,” Symington said.

Leaders from both schools talked with reporters Wednesday.

Allendale-Columbia’s Mick Gee says separately the schools have great programs, and this will combine the best of both.

``Unify the program and create even more opportunities for our students.  We're all about opportunities for students, and at the core of this, and we think we can provide more together than we do separately," he said.

Leader at Harley, Larry Frye, agrees.

He adds one of the biggest challenges going forward revolves around the culture and traditions at the two schools.

``We have traditions that are part of how we kind of think of ourselves as communities.  So I think that work is going to be kind of exciting and fun on the one hand, but also something that will require a ton of talking," he said.

Both say they want students from Harley and Allendale Columbia to view the new, yet to be named institution, as "their school."

Here are Harley’s Larry Frye and Allendale Columbia’s Mick Gee talking about the merger:

The schools said leaders do not plan to initiate significant curriculum changes until after June 2020, and employment levels will “continue to be dictated by student enrollment and course, curriculum and program needs.”