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The Times
  • Valley school districts scramble to file merger petitions

  • A Monday morning directive by the state had the three Mohawk Valley school districts considering merging scrambling to get petitions signed and submitted in just a day.

    The Herkimer, Ilion and Mohawk school districts found out late Monday two petitions required to move the years-long and politically sensitive merger process forward were required to be submitted by the end of day Tuesday.

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  • A Monday morning directive by the state had the three Mohawk Valley school districts considering merging scrambling to get petitions signed and submitted in just a day.
    The Herkimer, Ilion and Mohawk school districts found out late Monday two petitions required to move the years-long and politically sensitive merger process forward were required to be submitted by the end of day Tuesday.
    “We knew there was a petition coming sooner or later. We didn’t expect it to arrive Monday afternoon,” Mohawk Interim Superintendent Gene Beirne said. “It came together, because thank goodness for emails. The petitions did get signed.”
    Beirne said he sent out an e-mail blast and had a parent volunteer to oversee the petitioning.
    The first petitions ask the commissioner of education for a meeting to vote on a merger of the districts, and the second asks the commissioner to allow voting to take place in the school buildings.
    Beirne said the language of the petitions arrived on Monday and the districts were told they needed 100 signatures on each.
    Then on Tuesday, they were told only 35 signatures were required on one, and a number representing 10 percent of the student enrollment on the other. In Mohawk’s case it was 85, but Beirne said the district collected 113 signatures.
    Dan Monohan, who is against the merger, does not like how the petitions were collected and how involved the district was in collecting them.
    “I have always been under the impression as a school board member the school cannot use its resources to promote a merger,” he said. “I don’t think they should have it done on school time.”
    Beirne said he wasn’t asking just people for the merger to vote, and wasn’t expressing an opinion on whether there should be a merger. He was following direction from the state to get the paperwork done so a vote could be held.
    “You’re not (expressing an opinion) You’re saying: ‘Let’s get this to a vote so we can pass or defeat it,” Beirne said. “I had several parents here, even as they were signing, (who said) I have to get this defeated.”

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