School merger opposition looking for last-minute support

HERKIMER, N.Y. (WKTV) - The binding vote for the three-school merger in Herkimer County is just four days away. Voters in the Herkimer, Ilion and Mohawk School Districts will cast their votes on Thursday. On Sunday, a group against the merger went looking for last-minute support.

The group, based in Herkimer, doesn't have a name. It is made up of students, parents, grandparents and community members.

One member, Jason Richard, says there are too many uncertainties about the merger and what it would mean for Herkimer moving forward. He said, "There has been no economic study done to what it's going to do to the village and town of Herkimer. This is really important to me because I believe in this town. What we've seen is that we know that we are going to lose home value, we're going to lose tax base and the small businesses are going to get hurt here."

The school merger was initially passed in a straw vote earlier this year and those who support it think it is best for the students and the communities.

Molly Bonnell has been outspoken in supporting the merger and is part of the group Friends of the Three-District Merger. On behalf of the group, she says, “There's a common misconception among some community members that this is a vote between merging and preserving the schools and programs they have now. It's simply not the case. With each district facing budget gaps in the millions of dollars, we have to ask these folks: what are they willing to cut from their schools starting next year? Failure to merge will result in cuts to programs, talented teachers, athletics and extracurricular activities year after year. We encourage those who want to protect what they have, and build upon that, to vote yes on Thursday."

Polls are open from noon to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday. Voters are required to vote in their home district.

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