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Voters deciding on proposal to merge Oppenheim-Ephratah and St. Johnsville School Districts

By Hilary Lane

OPPENHEIM - Local residents voted on a proposal to merge the St. Johnsville and Oppenheim - Ephratah school districts Tuesday.

After a local parent petitioned the Commissioner of Education, the proposal to combine the St. Johnsville and Oppenheim - Ephratah school districts was re-introduced more than a year later.

The proposal failed in the Oppenheim - Ephratah district by 58 votes. St. Johnsville voters overwhelmingly approved the plan, which is why residents in that district did not vote Tuesday.

If the two districts do merge, $14 million in incentive aid would be distributed over the next 15 years.

Whether people are voting for or against the merger, one thing is for certain. They are passionate about the future of these two school districts.

"I think it allows for the kids to have the best opportunity to do what they need to do to get the best education they can get," said Barbara Susi who is in favor of the merger.

" I don't think we should have to take and cover the weight of the St. Johnsville school district which we are going to end up doing," said Dave Smith who is against the merger.

"I am for it," said Jessica Crannell who is in favor of the` merger. " I think the kids need it for their future. Small schools like this aren't going to survive much longer so this is a good idea."

"We have been strong all of this time and knowing so many kids will have to go to a different school is kind of heartbreaking ," said Alyssa Johnson who is against the merger.

If the proposal passes, the new combined district would be formed July 1, 2013.

Polls are open at the Oppenheim - Ephratah Central School until 8 p.m. Tuesday night.

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