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Residents to vote a second time on proposal to merge two Montogemery County school districts

By Hilary Lane

OPPENHEIM, N.Y. (WKTV) - Residents in the Oppenheim-Ephratah School District will be voting Tuesday on a plan to merge with the St. Johnsville School District.

Last year, the merger vote failed by 58 votes.

The St. Johnsville School District overwhelmingly approved the proposal, so residents in the district will not be voting Tuesday.

A local parent petitioned the Commissioner of Education who signed off on the second vote after re-examining both districts' finances.

"We are struggling with paying for educational costs and maintaining programs and we are spending more money then we can take in," said Dan Rossum, Oppeneheim-Ephratah School Superintendent.

Rossum said the district is running at a $750,000 shortfall.

If the two districts do merge, the state would provide $14 million in incentive aid over the next 15 years.

"Just by combining both staffs we could offer their students 26 additional classes they didn't have at the time and ours 23 classes," said Rossum.

If the merger does not go through, Rossum said the Board of Education will begin to look into paying neighboring school districts to educate students to save money.

A newly formed district would be created on July 1.

Merger voting will take place at the Oppenheim-Ephratah Central School from 12 to 8 pm Tuesday.

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