Updated 05/08/2012 06:25 PM
Three district merger process continues in Herkimer County
The Herkimer, Ilion and Mohawk School Districts continue to explore the possibility of joining forces following the failed four district merger proposal shot down by voters in the Frankfort-Schuyler District. Sarah Blazonis reports.
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ILION, N.Y. -- Superintendents of the Herkimer, Ilion, and Mohawk School Districts met with members of the SES Study Team for the final time Tuesday. On the agenda: The completed study detailing what a merger of their three districts would look like.
"The districts have had to reconfigure the buildings a little bit and certainly adjust some of the tax rate information and state aid information, but it was a very similar process as the four district study," said Cosimo Tangorra, superintendent for the Ilion Central School District.
As in the first study, the new one leaves one elementary school in each district. Fifth and sixth grade students would move to the current Jarvis High School in Mohawk, with seventh and eighth graders in the Herkimer High School Building. Ninth through twelfth graders would all go to Ilion High School.
While some residents said they were afraid of losing their community identity during the first merger process, administrators say the overall merger will benefit students.
"It's what we're creating for these children to have academic, extracurricular and athletic opportunities that right now we know have either been eliminated or reduced or will be eliminated or reduced," said Joyce Caputo, superintendent for the Mohawk Central School District.
Enhanced programming and extracurriculars carried over from the old plan and taxes are expected to hold steady or go down.
Officials also say $54 million in incentive aid over 14 years could help the new district avoid difficulties presented by the new two percent tax cap.
One difference: Officials say the timeline to implement the new district is less rushed.
"If it passes in October, they then will have a board in place by December, so that means the new board can make decisions and have the school ready," said Gary Tutty, interim superintendent of the Herkimer Central School District.
Residents can learn more details when public information sessions begin next month.
Meetings are scheduled for:
- June 6 - Gregory B. Jarvis Junior/Senior High School, Mohawk, 6 p.m.
- July 25 - Herkimer Junior/Senior High School, Herkimer, 6 p.m.
- August 9 -- Ilion Junior/Senior High School, Ilion, 6 p.m.
- August 22 -- Herkimer County Community College, 6 p.m.
Residents from each district are welcome to attend all of the meetings.
An advisory referendum vote will be held on the proposal on September 12th. If it's approved, a final referendum vote will be held October 19th and school board officials will be elected December 19th. The newly combined district would be in place by July 1st, 2013.