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The Times
  • More courses offered if valley schools merge, officials say

  • What do classes in college-level military history, college-level performance theater and “Rock & Roll” have in common?

    Herkimer, Mohawk or Ilion high schools each offer one of the courses, but not the others.

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  • What do classes in college-level military history, college-level performance theater and “Rock & Roll” have in common?
    Herkimer, Mohawk or Ilion high schools each offer one of the courses, but not the others.
    If those three school systems merge, as is being discussed, students in the new 3,000-plus student school district would have access to about 80 elective classes, many that count for college credit, that are offered in one of the districts but not the other two.
    “As you go down through this you, will see our students will be offered more Advance Placement courses, more electives and they would be able to complete more sequences (of courses),"  Mohawk Superintendent Joyce Caputo said.
    There will be three more public meetings this summer on the merger before a “straw” vote takes place in September. If all three communities approve the merger, a binding vote will be in October.
    All three high schools offer essentially the same 27 classes. Herkimer offers 44 classes that aren’t available in the other two, Ilion has 33 and Mohawk has five.
    “There were conversations about whether or not the courses would be offered,” said Dale Miller, an Ilion alum and resident and member of the Community Advisory Committee for the three-district merger study.
    “What we were told and heard was that these courses would absolutely be offered.”
    Even with a reduction of 14 teaching positions in a merged school district, Miller said an “economy of scale” would allow the district to offer so many courses.
    “A lot of it is going to be from taking programs where you maybe only have a few students in each district,” he said. “When you combine those students into one teacher or one school, all those kids together add up to 18 or 20 kids, and you can have a single teacher teaching those skills.”
    While offering more classes is a strong argument for a merger, a college admissions expert said a slimmer transcript doesn’t always sink a student. It’s what the student has done given what their school has to offer.
    “If you don’t have access to the courses, you can’t be penalized,” said Barmak Nassirian, a Washington, D.C.-based consultant. “At that point, it’s really unfair to turn around and penalize them for what the school didn’t offer them.”
    Based on each school’s 2010-11 report card, a combined district would have 3,603 students, making it smaller than the Rome City School District (5,238 students) and slightly larger than the Whitesboro Central School District (3,463 students).
    After looking at the potential initial course offering of a merged district provided in the study, Whitesboro Superintendent David Langone said the two districts would have similar numbers of course offerings and extra-curricular activities.
    Page 2 of 2 - “I think that they’re fairly comparable,” he said. “There’s going to be programs that districts have that some districts don’t have. This is a strong educational base for them that will preserve educational programs for their parents and prepare them to be college and career ready.
    “As a high school principal, I would be proud of that offering.”
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