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Community gathers for 2nd meeting on Three District Merger

By LEXIE O'CONNOR

HERKIMER, N.Y. (WKTV) - The 2nd of 4 community school merger meetings was held Wednesday at Herkimer High School. Mohawk, Herkimer and Ilion superintendents Joyce Caputo, Gary Tutty and Cosimo Tangorra gave a brief review of the proposal to merge the three school districts and clarified any questions residents still had.

The superintendents emphasized the almost $60 million in state incentive aid the districts could get if they merged, as well as the increased opportunities for students.

The merger is estimated to add over 50 new classes for students grades 7 through 12 as well as additional extracurriculars, sports and music programs.

The superintendents then took questions from meeting attendants, many who had voted 'Yes' to the previous 4 district proposal, but say they feel more confident this time around.

"I had more questions last time and it was more of a an iffy 'Yes,'" said Janet Deis of Herkimer. "I think now it's more of a more certain kind of of 'Yes' and I think part of that is more time we've had more time to digest things, more time to answer questions more time to get things so I think just the time factor is helpful too."

However some meeting attendants said they're still on the fence, unsure how the merger is going to work with many families having to send their children in different directions.

The combined district would send all high school students to Ilion's current high school, grades 5 through 6 would go to Mohawk's Jarvis School and grades 7 through 8 to Herkimer High School with each district having a Pre-K through 4th grade.

Many residents who said they still weren't sure if they'd vote for a school merger said they did feel better leaving the 3 district merger discussions, not because it's with one less district, but because more of their questions have been answered and they feel less rushed.

If all three districts approve the merger the new district will begin full operation July 1, 2013.

The next community meeting will be 6 pm. Thursday August 9th at Ilion High School, followed by one August 22nd at HCCC.

The Advisory Referendum (straw vote) is scheduled for September 12th, followed by a Statutory Referendum October 18th.

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