The New York State Education Department last week approved the proposed Herkimer-Ilion-Mohawk merger study, paving the way for a public information period and a Sept. 12 straw vote.
Speaking during Wednesday night’s board of education meeting, interim Herkimer Superintendent of Schools Gary Tutty said community forums will take place on June 6 at Jarvis High School in Mohawk, July 25 at Herkimer High School, Aug. 9 at Ilion High School and on Aug. 22 at Herkimer County Community College. The forums at the three high schools will begin with a tour of the facilities at 5 p.m.; the question and answer portion of the sessions will begin at 6 p.m.
Unlike the failed four district merger study with Frankfort-Schuyler, where the forums were specifically targeted toward each individual district, Tutty said these forums will be open to everyone.
“With the four district merger many residents thought the Herkimer forum was just for Herkimer voters, the Ilion forum was just for Ilion voters and the Mohawk forum was just for Mohawk voters. That will not be the case with this round of community forums, as residents of all three districts will be encouraged to attend any and all of the informational sessions,” he said.
Ilion Superintendent of Schools Cosimo Tangorra, Jr. echoed Tutty’s sentiments in a news release.
“Each forum will be open to members of all three communities. In fact, we hope residents will attend the meetings in the other districts,” he said in a release posted on the district’s website.
Tutty also said Wednesday the forums will be led by all three school superintendents.
“Having all three superintendents at each session will guarantee a similar presentation will be given at each meeting,” he said, adding members of the community advisory committee would also attend.
The sessions will begin with a video presentation and a highlight of the new study.
“This study simply revises the data found in the first study to reflect three schools instead of four, so we don’t plan to spend much time rehashing the basics. Instead, we will focus on how this plan improves upon what we currently offer our students, staff and community and how it answers the concerns raised in the former plan,” Tangorra said in a news release, adding the superintendents, with the help of the community advisory committee, will spend most of their time answering questions.
If the Sept. 12 advisory referendum is approved by voters in all three school districts, the communities will conduct a statutory referendum on Oct. 18. If all three communities approve the binding vote, the merged district would begin operation on July 1, 2013.