School merger voted down

By WKTV News

ST. JOHNSVILLE, N.Y. (WKTV) - Voters reject a proposal that would merge the St. Johnsville and Oppenheim Ephratah School Districts.

The final numbers are as follows:

In Oppenheim-Ephratah:
400 YES
458 NO

In St. Johnsville:

461 Yes
79 No

Both districts needed to pass the referendum for the plan to move forward. School officials are surprised by this turn of events. It was expected to pass.

Many residents and both superintendents say the merger would have benefited the schools and allowed them to survive during a time when the school districts are seeing drastic budget cuts.

"Without it (the merger) the fund balances will diminish and we'll find ourselves...I don't know what the future will be," says St. Johnsville resident Keith Handy. "Whether we'll be able to continue our schools or be tuitioned off to other schools, I don't know."

St. Johnsville Superintendent Ralph Acquaro says both his school and Oppenheim-Ephratah just have very basic programs, and is afraid future cutbacks will reduce the programs even more.

"If we're going to keep the school district as it is right now in terms of student services and programs we'd last about three years and then we're done. And Oppenheim is situated exactly the same way."

If the merger passed, each district would've kept an elementary school, 6th through 8th graders would've gone to Oppenheim-Ephratah, and the high schoolers would've gone to St. Johnsville.

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