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Voting underway on St. Johnsville-Oppenheim-Ephratah merger

By HILARY LANE

ST. JOHNSVILLE and OPPENHEIM, N.Y. (WKTV) - Residents in St. Johnsville and Oppenheim-Ephratah school districts are voting on a final referendum to merge the schools Wednesday.

Mary Mosher, from Oppenheim, has been sitting in a chair at the polling place in Oppenheim since the voting began at Noon on Wednesday. She says she will be sitting in the same place until the moment the polls close at 8 p.m.

"Last time, people voted that were in the district and shouldn't have," says Mosher, an Oppenheim resident. "So I am just hanging out. If I see those people again, I will make a protest to the official in there."

Mosher is adamantly against the proposed merger. Her three children graduated from Oppenheim-Ephratah Central School and she does not want to see anything change for future students.

"We have everything here to offer them," Mosher said. "I apologize, but St. Johnsville doesn't."

However, Robert Jaiken, a senior at St. Johnsville Central School says that something needs to give. He is worried that if the merger doesn't go through, St. Johnsville school will close because of lack of funding.

"If this doesn't go through, kids will be shipped all over the area," says Jaiken. "It would just be easier to keep the school here."

Jaiken says the millions of dollars the combined school district would receive in incentive funding for curriculum and program improvements makes the merger a no-brainer.

"The kids need it, the parents need it, to keep this community alive," says Jaiken.

If the vote passes Wednesday, a new combined school district would form starting July 12, 2012. Residents would vote on the new Board of Education members in mid-January.

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