It failed as a four-school merger, but consolidation plans are looking brighter for three Herkimer County school districts. Voters gave a thumbs up to plans to the consolidation proposed by Herkimer, Ilion and Mohawk. Our Cara Thomas spoke with school officials and voters, and tells us what comes next.
HERKIMER COUNTY, N.Y. -- After years of talks about consolidation, Mohawk, Herkimer and Ilion were back at the polls Wednesday looking to pursue a three-school merger.
Cosimo Tangorra, Ilion School District's Superintendent said,"Not only will we be able to offer our students more if we combine. Is that if we don't, we'll have to offer them less."
It was the second time these districts had sent voters to the polls, the first vote included Frankfort, but residents there turned the proposal down. But the remaining three school districts were adamant that consolidation was the right move.
Now while the school districts decided to merge, in the end it came down to the citizens, many with varying opinions.
Ilion resident, Nicholas Dudish said, "I'm more concerned about the learning of the kids, if we're going to have to bus kids between all these schools, that's terrible for them."
"You have more options with the sports and the music, and the arts besides the regular curriculum. And I think it's a great idea," says Virginia Ludden, an Ilion resident.
Diana Kucerak, also from Ilion, said, "I went to Ilion High School here, graduated from here and I want them to keep their identity."
And John Mitchell from Herkimer said, "A lot of people think they're going to lose the identity. And they're really not losing an identity, they're going to have a new identity."
At the end of the night, the votes were counted and the answer was a resounding 'yes.' The community decided to move forward with a merger. But their job isn’t done yet. To officially approve the merger, they have to vote one more time.
"We know it's a pain in the neck, we know folks are busy but we really need every single person to come back out an vote again," said Superintendent Tangorra.
The next vote will be held on October 18th, where the community will make the final decision on whether or not the schools will merge.