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Districts continue merger study

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Districts continue merger study
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With a merger study on the table for two Southern Tier school districts, leaders and consultants met Tuesday night to go over a lot of information. As our Elyse Mickalonis tells us, they need to decide which schools to utilize if a merger happens.

CHENANGO FORKS, N.Y. -- It’s a process that could change two school districts forever.

"Now we’re talking about where the high school is located, what will happen with K-5 or K-6 populations in both districts. Once we know that, we can talk about the next step, which is transportation,” said Dennis Sweeny, Merger Study Consultant.

Chenango Valley and Chenango Forks have been talking about a merger for years. On Tuesday, officials toured Chenango Forks middle and high schools.

"What they’re looking at is the layout of the building and the capacity. What we need to do is determine for a high school. Which district will host a high school and which district will host a middle school,” said Sweeny.

In October, the Governor's office awarded the districts a $45,000 grant to fund the study.

"The study will take about six months. It started last month and each month we will meet once or twice,” said Doug Hamlin, Merger Study Consultant.

Consultants say there’s still a lot of information to comb through and they want to make sure every angle is looked at.

"Talk about the high school programs and learning results from both districts and then compare those and what a merged district might offer for students. Also look at athletics in terms of what a merged district would look like with the teams and coaches and also extracurricular activities,” said Sweeny.

Andrew Ziegenfus, a Chenango Forks junior, added, "The athletics would offer more opportunities at higher competition, but it might not give everyone an equal opportunity, one team instead of two and twice as many kids trying out for one team."

Issues that officials and committee members say will be picked apart at every juncture of the study to ensure the best choices for everyone involved.

The study needs to be given to the State Education Department by July 1st. Once it's complete, any potential merger would go to a public vote later in the year. If it's approved, re-organization efforts wouldn't begin until the summer of 2014.

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