Herkimer, Ilion and Mohawk all approve preliminary vote of school merger

By ANDREW DONOVAN

HERKIMER COUNTY (WKTV) - Voters in Ilion, Herkimer and Mohawk have approved a preliminary vote to merge their school districts into one. Now, a binding a vote will take place in October for a final decision.

In Herkimer, the vote was in favor 1,160 to 839. In Ilion, 1,274 said yes and 589 voted no. In Mohawk, the vote was in favor 930 to 415.

Thousands turned out to the polls Wednesday to make their voice heard on an issue that has been on people's minds since a four-district merger was defeated in the spring. The majority of Frankfort-Schuyler voters did not approve merging with the three other schools.

In May, those three schools, Ilion, Herkimer and Mohawk, became part of a three-district merger study. Public hearings and meetings took place throughout the summer.

A new district will be awarded nearly $59 million in aide from New York State.

If the schools were to merge, each district would keep one PreK-4 elementary school, grades 5-6 would attend Jarvis High School in Mohawk, grades 7-8 would go to Herkimer High School and Ilion would be home to the high school building for grades 9-12.

The new school district would have about 3,500 students according to the merger study. That is comparable to the Whitesboro Central School District, which will have approximately 3,400 students once this year's enrollment numbers are finalized, according to school officials.

It is also expected that tax rates in Herkimer and Mohawk would decrease and Ilion's would remain the same.

The binding vote is scheduled for October 18. A budget for the new district would be put up in May along with other school budgets around the area and the new district would open next school year in September of 2013.

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