Three-district merger rejected by Herkimer School voters

By ANDREW DONOVAN
By LEXIE O'CONNOR

ILION, N.Y. (WKTV) - Voters in the Herkimer School District have rejected a proposal to merge their school with Ilion and Mohawk. The other two schools approved the merger, but all three had to vote yes for the merger to take place.

Voter turn-out was significantly higher than expected, with thousands turning out in each school district. Voters were required to vote in their home school zone.

Because all three schools had to independently approve the merger, the schools can not combine and have to start any merger ideas from scratch.

Only about 200 votes were the deciding factor in this rejection.

Herkimer had 1,174 people propose the plan and 1,346 reject it.

In the straw vote, 1,160 voters in Herkimer said yes and 839 said no. The nearly 500 people who turned out additionally this time seemed to make all the difference.

Ilion had 1,260 approvals and 788 who rejected the plan.

Mohawk voted yes by almost double, 1,024 approved and 537 rejected.

The polls closed at 8:00 p.m. but so many people were still in line at the time, that voting officials let anyone in the building at that time vote. The votes were all then moved to the Ilion building where Department of Education officials from New York State joined local officials to tally the final numbers.

After the vote, Ilion Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra said, "Obviously the people have spoken, the residents Ilion and Mohawk have now approved the referendum in favor of the merger three times in the past ten months so I think right now Ilion has to sit down and talk to Mohawk about how can we move forward together."

Under current law all three districts have to wait one year and one day to do anything. However, Thursday night Tangorra said he hopes to seek special legislation to not have wait for that year and a day.

"Oddly enough this started as a Mohawk and Ilion merger and we would be in our second year had we not suspended our study to allow Herkimer and Frankfort to join us," said Tangorra. "Again our residents have passed this three times in the past ten months and our kids shouldn't have to wait any longer."

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