Updated 10/19/2012 07:13 AM
Herkimer residents reject three district merger
The Herkimer, Mohawk and Ilion school districts made their final decision Thursday night on the lengthy process to merge their three districts. Our Andrew Sorensen tells us what they chose to do and what it means for the future of the three districts.
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ILION, N.Y -- Whether they were for or against the merging of the Herkimer, Ilion and Mohawk school districts, just about everybody we met voted for the same reason.
"For the kids, come on!" Herkimer resident Larry Dack shouted from the street corner across from Herkimer High School.
Dack joined the group growing the loudest in the week leading up to the vote. Like many others, he opposed the merger because he wants to keep the schools small.
"Dolgeville, Little Falls, Mount Markham. They all can do it, why can't we do it here," he said.
Supporters say it would help kids expand their opportunities.
Ilion parent Laura Hall supported the merge because she said it would be best for her son.
"Well I think a merger will present him with more choices for sports and education," she said.
As the thousands of ballots poured in, it became clear the merger would be shot down. So what does that mean for these districts going forward?
Herkimer put the merger down by a difference of 172 votes. So all three districts will all keep their separate identities for now, but district officials have said they may have some tough choices to make in future budgets.
"You're going to have cut backs, you're going to have to have layoffs, that's just that's the way it's going to be. The economy is bad all over," Dack said.
That leaves parents who supported the merger in a tough spot.
"I guess I'm just nervous for the outcome and what they're going to lose from it," Ilion parent Martina Jory said.
Some parents, like John and Tracy Sommer, with two kids in the Mohawk District, say they might even make other arrangements for their children.
"We're going to have to sit down and have a family discussion and think about it, because we're really afraid for... especially our sophomore," Tracy Sommer said.
The districts may still look at other options to improve their financial situations, but officials say those are pretty slim.
Herkimer will have the option of voting again in one year.
Ilion and Mohawk will legally have to wait at least that long to discuss any other reorganization plans.