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Study to merge four local school districts underway

By CAROLINE GABLE

HERKIMER, N.Y. (WKTV) There's a study underway that could have a big impact on a lot of people. The study is on merging the Mohawk, Ilion, Frankfort-Schuyler and Herkimer school districts.

Thursday night, sub-committees just began to touch the tip of the iceberg, to determine what combining four school districts would do to educational opportunities, efficiencies and expenses.

Groups discussed the challenges of consolidating school districts, and there are many. One issue is getting all of the students to one central location by bus. That brings up the matter of existing contracts for each district and how to handle them when bus services would no longer be needed. The study is being funded largely through a state grant, but each district also contributed $5,000. The study should wrap up in the fall, following that there will be community forums, school boards will weigh in and The State Education Department would set formal time lines, (if the process moves forward). However, it all comes down to a community referendum.

Right now there are incentives for educational mergers in New York State, but since 2000 there have been less than half a dozen consolidations. Paul Seversky is part of the SES Study Team. He says members that make up the community advisory committee went through a selection process in each district, "I think the four boards have embarked on this study, wanting the full involvement of their communities. That's why we have 64 people we are working with, that have been chosen and appointed by the four boards," says Seversky.

In light of Governor Cuomo's budget, the topic of a merger is a timely one and the community advisory committee will continue to delve into this study in the weeks and months to come.

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