Fulton County

Northville meetings to revisit school merger plan

A Northville school committee is calling on residents to get involved in learning more about merging

A Northville school committee is calling on residents to get involved in learning more about merging with the Mayfield school district.

Merger discussions led to a nonbinding straw vote last year in which Mayfield voters overwhelmingly approved further study but Northville voters rejected it.

Talks continued even after the vote and Northville residents will return to the polls June 25 to reconsider.

Until then, committee member John Sira said the group of district residents will meet weekly in hopes of outlining all details before the nonbinding vote.

The first meeting will be held in the Northville school library at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Sira, a member of the merger committee who was just elected to the Board of Education, said last year’s straw vote presented confusing information to voters.

That and the desire to maintain the status quo, he said, likely were factors in the vote’s defeat.

Voters were presented with the spectre of a 47 percent increase in property taxes that would follow equalizing the two districts’ tax rates by increasing Northville’s rate to that of Mayfield.

But the whole idea with merging school districts is to save money and still provide students with quality education, and a tax rate increase like that “wasn’t going to fly,” Sira said.

The districts stand to gain roughly $19 million in additional state funding over a 15-year period if a merger is successful, he said.

Plans going forward, he said, reverse that change by decreasing Mayfield’s tax rate to that of Northville, leaving Northville taxes unchanged and reducing taxes in Mayfield.

“To say it was extremely difficult to understand what you were reading puts it mildly,” Sira said.

The straw vote, he said, would allow the districts to pursue a formal merger study that would detail for residents precisely what the merged districts would look like.

“The merger study is a puzzle that’s still in the unopened box. In order for us to see what the puzzle looks like in completion, we have to have positive straw votes from both communities,” Sira said.

Sira said all members of the community are encouraged to attend and make their thoughts known.

A public hearing will follow a week later, prior to the Board of Education meeting.

The public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. June 11 in the Northville auditorium.

The straw vote will be held from noon to 8 p.m. June 25 in the Northville gymnasium.

People can learn more about the merger process online at http://northvillecsd.k12.ny.us/.

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