Residents in the Herkimer, Ilion and Mohawk school districts will decide next week on whether a proposed merger of the three districts will move forward.
The merger proposal will go before voters in a non-binding, advisory referendum on Wednesday, Sept. 12. If a majority of voters in each school district approves the advisory referendum, then a binding referendum will take place on Oct. 18. If a majority of voters in each district approves the binding referendum, the merged district would begin operating on July 1, 2013.
The polls for the Sept. 12 vote will be open from noon to 8 p.m. in each district.
Here are six things to know about the merger proposal:
1. Enrollment and geography
The newly formed school district would have an enrollment of approximately 3,500 kindergarten through grade 12 students and would cover 77.53 square miles.
Each district would keep one pre-kindergarten to grade 4 elementary school. Students in grades 5 and 6 would attend the current Gregory B. Jarvis Junior-Senior High School in Mohawk and students in grades 7 and 8 would attend the current Herkimer Junior-Senior High School. Students in grades 9 through 12 would attend the current Ilion Junior-Senior High School.
The proposal calls for six fewer elementary classroom teachers and 11 additional specialty teachers and support professionals at the elementary level. At the secondary level, there would be 14 fewer teachers. A school resource officer would be hired to work at the high school.
The merger proposal also calls for one fewer building level administrator and 2.5 fewer central office administrators. There would be no changes in special education, business office support, secretarial, food service, transportation, teacher aides and assistants or buildings and grounds.
There would be a pre-kindergarten program in each district, as well as a “before school” program for students in grades K-4. The merged district would be able to provide expanded music, foreign language, health, technology and home and careers classes to students; the combined grades 7-12 electives would add a minimum of 51 new possible classes for students. The merged district would also be able to provide students with additional extracurricular, sports and music opportunities.
The merged district’s transportation system would utilize district-operated and contracted buses. Students in grades K-4 would be bused separately from students in grades 7-12. The longest anticipated bus ride is 45 minutes. The proposal also calls for the addition of a late bus.
It is anticipated the merged district would receive $58,935,009 in additional incentive aid, which could be used to pay down building debt, build savings and reduce property taxes. Residents of the current Herkimer and Mohawk school districts with homes assessed at $100,000 would see their property taxes lowered by an estimated $328, while homeowners in the current Ilion school district would see their property taxes remain unchanged, according to the proposal.