Two western Fulton County school districts whose bid to merge failed at the polls last year will continue to share sports programs going into the winter season.
Under a recently approved agreement, students from St. Johnsville Central School District will participate on Oppenheim-Ephratah’s modified, junior varsity and varsity volleyball teams. At the same time, O-E students will participate on St. Johnsville boys’ and girls’ modified, junior varsity and varsity basketball teams and the cheerleading squad. The host district will pay costs to administer the sports program and provide all staff, uniforms and facilities.
The agreement continues an ongoing relationship between the districts regarding sports programming.
The two districts shared sports programming and divided the cost until voters defeated a proposal to merge the districts last year. St. Johnsville voters backed the merger proposal, 461-79, but O-E voters rejected it, 458-400.
After the failed vote, the districts decided to continue sharing sports but not the costs. In the fall, 25 O-E students participated on the St. Johnsville soccer team with St. Johnsville covering the cost.
“The soccer program is going extremely well and I’m happy to see that our students will continue competing together this winter,” said O-E school Superintendent Dan Russom.
Russom said the two districts evaluated the success of the soccer program and decided to continue the agreement into the winter. A deal is possible for spring sports as well, officials said.
“It’s an agreement that benefits students in both districts,” said St. Johnsville school Superintendent Laura Campione. “We’re looking forward to continued success in our winter sports.”
Although the merger proposal was defeated, the concept it not dead. O-E residents can trigger a second vote by presenting a petition to the state Education Department commissioner that contains the signatures of 36 residents. Russom said he expects a second merger vote to occur.
The earliest the vote could occur is Dec. 8, which is a year and a day since residents voted on the first merger proposal, and the vote would involve only residents of the O-E school district.
If the merger is approved, a combined school district would come into being July 1, 2013. It would be eligible for enhanced state aid for several years.