Two area school districts to have advisory vote Tuesday on merging

By Joleen Ferris

(WKTV) - Voters in two Central New York school districts will head to the polls on Tuesday in a vote that will impact their children's educations. 

Voters in the Morrisville-Eaton and Hamilton Central School Districts will take part in an advisory -- or 'straw' vote -- Tuesday, to decide whether a merger between the two should go on to a formal binding vote on Feb. 11.

"We have to figure out how to provide a quality education for our kids," said Morrisville-Eaton Superintendent Michael Drahos. "Over the last six years, state aid, which we're highly dependent on, has been decreased and caused us to make cuts, which is impacting the student learning."

Similar sentiments prevail in the nearby, roughly 500-student Hamilton district.

"We're at at the point where we're having difficulty balancing the budget each year and keeping the same programs," said Hamilton Superintendent Dr. Diana Bowers. "This is something we're looking at as a potential solution for these problems and if this is not it, we'll decide what else is."

The Committee to Save Hamilton Central Schools has taken out a full-page ad in Mid-York Weekly in an attempt to educate voters about a possible merger, which they believe does not make fiscal sense, in part because they say rising fuel costs would eventually outweigh the $20 million in state merger aid.

"That number, as far as I can tell, is only going to go up," said Carolyn Hsu. "With fuel costs, it's going to go up over the next five years, it's going to go up over the next 10 years, over the next 15 years. When the incentive money is gone, we still have those costs."

Morrisville-Eaton junior Coby Merkle wrote his own rebuttal to the committee's full-page ad, saying that change is inevitable, regardless of whether the districts merge.

Voting is from 10 a. m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday,  where voters would normally vote in general elections.

Both districts have to pass the measure tomorrow in order to send it back to the districts for a formal binding vote in February.

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