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Getting ready for the new school year at the new formed Oppenheim-Ephratah St. Johnsville District

By NICOLE PITT

The last day of July is a sign that summer is halfway behind us and with just five weeks left until the start of the school year, the newly-merged Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville School District is working to make sure the doors are open for the fall.

A district meeting was held Wednesday night, which turned out to actually be two meetings.

The first session was the final meeting of the Oppenheim-Ephratah Board of Education, where a final resolution was passed that transferred everything to the new district.

The board of the new merged district then gathered inside the cafeteria at what is now the Middle School for the district.

There was much discussion at the meeting in regard to the Phase 2 Project that was approved by voters back in 2011. It's a $1.5 million project that covered the cost of replacing the gym floor inside the St. Johnsville High School.

However, workers hit a small snafu after removing the old floor and finding asbestos. That in itself is not an uncommon occurrence, but after removing the asbestos they found the concrete base underneath the floor was uneven.

That set the project completion time and the budget back, which means they might not have the time or the money to paint the walls inside the school to reflect the new district colors - red, gray and black.

The cost to paint the gym alone is $25,000.

On Wednesday night the board and the community members stressed the importance of having the walls painted, especially for the moral of the newly merged district.

"I think it presents a visual image," said Phoebe Sitterly, a former St. Johnsville Teacher. "It's an impact that you get when you walk in right away. I don't know how comfortable students coming from another district would feel if the old home colors were there. I do think it's a visual, so visuals touch you before anything else."

Members of the public were making suggestions at the meeting for the project and some teachers even offered to do the work themselves. However, officials said they want to make sure the new gym floor is not damaged during the painting process.

Members of the board were going to work on making sure the painting is complete come September.

Also at the meeting - some questions were posed about when an elementary and high school principal positions were going to be filled.

The superintendent said she hopes to fill both spots by the end of next week.

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