Four school districts in Herkimer County attempted to merge earlier this year. Frankfort backed out of the deal, leaving Ilion, Herkimer and Mohawk Central School Districts to move on in the process. As our Andrew Sorensen tells us, the new proposal could have some Herkimer County parents sending their kids to a brand new school system in just two year's time.
HERKIMER COUNTY, N.Y.-- The Ilion, Herkimer, and Mohawk Central School Districts have lost some of the luster of their merger plans since Frankfort backed out.
"Yes, our school district will be smaller as a three district merge district. Yes, the population of students will be smaller as a three district merge district," said Mohawk Central School District Superintendent Joyce Caputo at a public hearing Wednesday night.
But to the districts that have sustained cuts because of the delay, the merger is not only beneficial, but in some ways necessary.
"So we go into this reorganization with fewer resources. However, the end result is still a better product for the tax payers and the students," Ilion Central School District Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra said.
That doesn't mean parents like Jamison Hayes walked into the first public hearing Wednesday night without any concerns. He's been told his daughter would no longer be attending Remington Elementary where she can walk to school, but instead, bussed to Barringer.
"The only concern I have is that they just put all these new updates into the Remington school and now they're going to close it down," he said.
Despite the prospect of some longer bus rides and leaving one school entirely empty, most parents are looking at the positives of the proposal.
Mohawk Parent Barbara LaPorte said, "I think that it's something that has to go through in order to offer the students the opportunities that they deserve."
Some of those opportunities include $58 million in new funding, restoring sports and music programs, and creating at least 51 new classes. But unfortunately, all the gains do come at the cost of some cuts, including two administrators and up to 20 teacher positions.
The districts say many of those jobs would be retirements and most would be moved to other positions. The districts also say that although the plan looks good on paper, it would be up to the new school board and administration to follow through.
There will be three other public hearings on the merger before it goes to a public vote on September 12th.