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Talks continue for Herkimer County school consolidations

By By PAT BAILEY

HERKIMER COUNTY, N.Y. (WKTV) - Three Herkimer County schools are taking a serious look at consolidating with surrounding districts - and one of those schools is closer to an outright merger.

Herkimer BOCES Superintendent Mark Vivacqua says that the 12 school districts that make up Herkimer BOCES have had one serious consolidation talk, and are about to have an even more specific talk in the coming weeks.

Ilion and Mohawk are two school districts in the county that are in talks with each other to consolidate, although Vivacqua says they are only in the early stages of those discussions.

However, the Oppenheim-Ephratah School District is currently in the advance stages of consolidation talks after a recent study showed they would benefit from merging with nearby Saint Johnsville.

Vivacqua says Herkimer County Schools have lost 10 percent of their population in recent years - one of the biggest reasons these consolidation talks are heating up.

"Schools are dropping classes," he said. "Schools are combining because we just don't have the number of kids we used to. So, you couple that with dwindling resources and you understand things are not going to be the same ten years from now as they are now."

Vivacqua says another contributing factor to the increasing consolidation discussion is the ever-shrinking amount of funding coming into districts from the state.

He says when the state divided up the aide to districts, even the poorest districts are getting less.

Any plans to consolidate the school districts are not without their hurdles, and Vivacqua says time is certainly a factor. Any major consolidation effort, or outright merger would take years too achieve.

Superintendents of the Herkimer County schools will once again meet to talk about consolidation ideas next week.

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