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Residents head to polls in Village of Ilion on proposed school merger

By HILARY LANE

ILION, N.Y. (WKTV) - The polls close at 8 p.m. on Thursday night as a straw poll on the proposed merger between Herkimer, Mohawk, Frankfort-Schuyler and Ilion School districts went before voters.

The straw vote comes after a merger study, hearings, and community forums, and now lays in the hands of the voters.

Speaking with voters coming and going from the polls outside Ilion High School, some were for and some were against the proposal. However, one thing appears clear - people are passionate when it comes to the future of these schools.

One man who came to the polls on Thursday was a graduate from Ilion High School 25 years ago and said he doesn't want his school to lose its individual identity. He says his four kids graduated from Ilion and they all have done well for themselves, so he doesn't feel the need to change anything.

Another person who voted Thursday said that they felt the millions of dollars in incentive aid that the combined school district would receive would provide better programs for those students.

One man said he is voting the way his grandchildren told him to vote.

"They just think it would be beneficial," the man said. "They didn't really go into a lot of details, but they told me if I go up and vote, they want me to vote 'yes,' and that's good enough for me."

"I am very concerned about the quality of education, because the other schools don't come close to Ilion education-wise," another voter said.

If all four districts vote in favor of the merger on Thursday, there will be a binding referendum on February 29.

If Thursday night's vote is not unanimous, the proposal is dead.

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