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The Times
  • Herkimer Co. schools vote ‘yes’ on merger

  • Knowing the Ilion and Mohawk school districts had passed the advisory referendum on the merger, the tension built up inside the Herkimer Junior-Senior High School Media Center Wednesday evening as people awaited the results.

    If all three school districts involved with the merger study process passed the advisory referendum, they would be a step closer to making it a reality.

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  • Knowing the Ilion and Mohawk school districts had passed the advisory referendum on the merger, the tension built up inside the Herkimer Junior-Senior High School Media Center Wednesday evening as people awaited the results.
    If all three school districts involved with the merger study process passed the advisory referendum, they would be a step closer to making it a reality.
    About 15 minutes after the polls closed, chief poll inspector Franca Wandell made the announcement — 1,160 voted yes and 839 voted no.
    This was the second round in the merger process, which excluded the Frankfort-Schuyler School District since their voters rejected a plan for a four-school merger in January.
    The rest of the results reported on Wednesday were 1,274 for the merger in Ilion and 589 against, and 930 for the merger in Mohawk and 415 against.
    “The turnout was great,” said Mohawk Board of Education President James Fleming during a telephone interview Wednesday evening. He noted, however, the number of voters was down from the four-district merger vote in January.
    “All [the board] could ask for, whether you’re in favor or against it, was to come out and vote and that’s what they did, and we so greatly appreciate it because it affects everyone,” said Fleming.
    Ilion Central School Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra, Jr. said he was pleased with the turnout.
    “I am delighted so many people came out and participated in this referendum,” he said Wednesday.
    “Overjoyed,” was the way Herkimer Board of Education President John Cipriano described his feelings after hearing the results.
     Several voters shared the way they voted after going to the polls on Wednesday.
    “I did vote yes,” said Linda Brindisi, in Herkimer. “Obviously the economy has gotten to everybody and schools are struggling the most. It’s very important that we think about our kids.”
    Herkimer residents Floyd and Karen Guidi said they voted against the merger.
    “I just don’t agree with it. Leave things the way they are,” said Karen Guidi.
    Renee Palmieri, in Mohawk, and her mother, Dawn Scott, said they voted in favor of the referendum.
    “It’s to better my children’s education and to give them better opportunities for colleges,” said Palmieri, who has two children.
    Wendy Belfast, in Ilion, said she also voted yes.
    “I think we need the extra money, extra sports, extra everything,” she said.
    Belfast noted she had some concerns about how the merger would affect special education, based on some information she heard, but was in favor of the plan overall.
    “I think that we need it,” she said.
    Voters will return to the polls on Thursday, Oct. 18, for the statutory referendum. Residents will again be asked if the three districts should merge into a single district. They will also be asked, if the merger is approved by all three districts, whether the new board of education should be made up of five, seven or nine members and should board members serve three-, four- or five-year terms.

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