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The Times
  • Valley superintendents explain school merger plan at meeting

  • Approximately 80 residents heard from the three superintendents of Herkimer County school districts that are considering merging their schools.

    Residents will be asked to vote in September on whether to combine the Herkimer, Mohawk and Ilion districts.

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  • Approximately 80 residents heard from the three superintendents of Herkimer County school districts that are considering merging their schools.
    Residents will be asked to vote in September on whether to combine the Herkimer, Mohawk and Ilion districts.
    Between Wednesday’s meeting and the vote, the community will have three more chances to learn about what a merged district would look like.
    “Our students will be walking into what is currently available to our students in three schools in one,” Mohawk Superintendent Joyce Caputo said.
    Additionally, the new secondary program could support 51 new offerings for students.
    “That’s tremendous for our children,” Caputo said.
    Residents in the auditorium of Mohawk’s Gregory B. Jarvis Junior-Senior High School had questions about busing, and what the district will do after the extra state aid runs out in 15 years.
    “At some point we won’t get the money,” Herkimer Superintendent Gary Tutty said. “But if you look at the plan, they keep putting money aside to stretch it out.”
    Ilion Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra, Jr. said the reality is if funding at the state level doesn’t change, things might be bad again after the extra state aid runs out.
    “We will be back in the same situation,” he said. “However, in the meantime, we’ve saved a generation of kids.”
    Jamison Hayes, an Ilion resident, was disappointed that his daughter, a kindergartener at Remington Elementary School, won’t be able to walk to school in a new merged district. That school will be closed and his daughter would have to take the bus. Still, Hayes wants a merger.
    “I’m actually in favor of the merger” he said. “I think it will give our kids more opportunities.”
    Mohawk alumnus Ted Burke doesn’t live in any the three districts but owns land, and is worried about property taxes. Under the plan, school taxes would go down in Mohawk and Herkimer and stay the same in Ilion.
    For example, taxes on a $100,000 home in Herkimer in 2012-13 are projected to be $2,051; in Mohawk, $2,108; and in Ilion, $1,723. In a reorganized district, a home with that value would be assessed $1,723 across every community in the district.
    “That would be good if they actually achieve that,” Burke said.
    Community meetings
    Three more public meetings are planned to offer information on a possible merger of the Ilion, Mohawk and Herkimer school districts. Each forum will follow the same format and involve all three superintendents. The meetings will begin with a brief video and a review of the three-school proposal. The superintendents, with assistance from members of the Community Advisory Committee, will then answer questions. Meetings begin at 6 p.m.
    • July 25: Herkimer High School auditorium, 801 County Road 245, Herkimer.
    • Aug. 9: Ilion High School auditorium, 1 Golden Bomber Drive, Ilion.
    • Aug. 22: Herkimer County Community College auditorium, 100 Reservoir Road, Herkimer (no building tour).

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