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"Last" First Day of School?

By LEXIE O'CONNOR

HERKIMER COUNTY, N.Y. (WKTV) - On Wednesday, schools throughout Herkimer County will fill with students, ready to start another school year.

However, it could be the last for Ilion, Mohawk, and Herkimer as separate school districts.

On September 12, residents in Herkimer, Mohawk and Ilion will decide whether a proposal to merge the three school districts will move forward.

The one-district plan is expected to bring an estimated $59 million in additional state aid, and more classes and opportunities for students.

After meeting with faculty and staff for Superintendent's Day on Tuesday, Ilion and Herkimer superintendents said their focus is on this school year, but that they can't help but have the merger on their minds.

"A lot of work and a lot of time and effort has gone into this initiative, so when you get to the end of it, I think it's natural to be anxious and a high level of anxiety," said Ilion Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra.

Now residents must decide whether giving up their schools separate identities is worth the benefits of joining together.

"It's a hard one. It's very emotional I think," said Herkimer Superintendent Gary Tutty. "The one thing we ask them to do is, we know you're going to vote with your heart. We hope you vote with your head, and kind of put them together and say 'okay, what is going to be the best for the students.'"

Tangorra and Tutty agree that they're going to let the voting process work itself out, but if the merger proposal doesn't pass, they say they will be looking for ideas.

"We are at the edge, where we've already made some pretty severe cuts. Where do we go from here?" asked Tutty. "We have to have a long-term vision. We created a long-term vision. We're going to have to recreate it."

The superintendents say they're still getting calls on the merger and encourage residents to keep calling the school districts' offices to get their questions answered before the vote.

Ilion School District: (315) 894-9934
Mohawk School District: (315) 866-2620
Herkimer School District: (315) 866-2230

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

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