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The Times
  • Voters in school merger head to the polls

  • For the second time in eight months, voters in the Herkimer, Ilion and Mohawk school districts will turnout to decide on whether they want to merge.

    Residents can vote on the advisory referendum between noon and 8 p.m. today.

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  • For the second time in eight months, voters in the Herkimer, Ilion and Mohawk school districts will turnout to decide on whether they want to merge.
    Residents can vote on the advisory referendum between noon and 8 p.m. today.
    Should a majority of voters in all three districts approve of the advisory referendum, then it will go to a binding referendum vote which 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.
    Polling sites for today’s vote are the Herkimer Junior-Senior High School Media Center, 801 W. German St., Herkimer; the Ilion Junior-Senior High School small gymnasium, at 1 Golden Bomber Dr., Ilion; and the lower lobby of Gregory B. Jarvis High School, 28 Grove St., Mohawk. The Ilion polling site was originally set to be in the school cafeteria, but was changed to accommodate more people.
    Residents from the three districts must vote in their own district. All completed absentee ballots, whether delivered in person or mailed, must be received by the district clerk no later than 5 p.m. today. By law, all voters must be U.S. citizens, age 18 or older and a resident of the district for at least 30 days prior to the vote. Advance registration is not required.
    “Our communities had an incredible turnout for the previous vote on the proposed four-school merger,” said Ilion Central School Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra, Jr. in a news release. “We want to encourage all of our residents to come to the polls on Wednesday. No one should assume his or her vote will not be needed because of past results.”
    Voters in the Herkimer, Ilion and Mohawk school districts voted in January on merging their districts, along with the Frankfort-Schuyler school district, in a straw vote. It was, however, overwhelmingly voted down by Frankfort-Schuyler residents, with 1,123 against and 623 in favor of the merger. All four districts needed to approve of the merger for it to go forward.
    The three school districts that voted in favor of the merger decided to go ahead with a revised study for a merger between them. Each district each conducted an informational meeting over the past few months to share information about the revised study. The last informational meeting took place on Aug. 22 at Herkimer County Community College and was reportedly attended by over 100 community members from the three school districts.
    Herkimer Board of Education President John Cipriano said while as a board member he officially takes no position on the merger, he did talk about what would happen without a merger.
    “We certainly know what next year looks like for our school if it remains independent, and the forecast is not good,” said Cipriano during a telephone interview on Tuesday, noting there is “no rainy day fund.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Cipriano said the people he has talked to about the merger are in favor of it.
    “Certainly, we know that there are people that are against the merger. It frustrates me that I don’t have an opportunity to talk to them and lay out the information,” he said.
    Cipriano said more than anything, he wants people to make an informed decision.
    “It’s very important, one way or the other,” he said. “For emotions, or heritage or hundreds of years of tradition, that would be voting for the wrong reason. We have to do what’s best for the children and do what will give them a better education.”
    Herkimer District Clerk Sharon Judd said there will be four polling booths for voters, unlike two from last time, because of the high turnout from last time. There were more than 1,800 people who voted in Herkimer in January.
    The Herkimer school board will meet in the cafeteria at 7 p.m. today and then go to recess. They will then reconvene in the media center after the polls close to announce the voting results, which Cipriano said he expects to come around 8:45 p.m.
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