Updated 03/28/2012 10:23 PM
Possible merger of Mayfield and Northville school districts discussed
Residents gathered to learn about a possible merger between the Mayfield and Northville school districts. School officials are weighing two options, including one that would raise taxes. Innae Park reports.
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FULTON COUNTY, N.Y. – A merger is on the table for two school districts in Fulton County, both struggling financially. Students in both the Mayfield and Northville Central School Districts are likely to face cuts to major programs, both academic and extracurricular, within the next few years. Those jeopardized programs could also be putting the students in jeopardy. Mayfield parent Kevin Capobiancl said, “If they don’t have sports, music, drama, foreign language, they’ll be at a disadvantage when they leave either facility.”
As a result, a study team has done a year-long study on the potential merger of the two districts, which comes with an incentive. Northville Central School District Superintendent Kathy Dougherty explained, “With a possibility of $18 million in state aid over the next 14 years, that makes it more attractive.”
Wednesday night, the study team presented two options for merger to the community in Mayfield, both with their pros and cons, but officials say either way, the students will win. “It is our desire to maintain our present programs, to even enrich our programs,” said Paul Williamsen, the Superintendent of Mayfield Central School District.
Option 1 will provide more music, arts, technology, physical education and foreign language programs, as well as more academic support, compared to Option 2, where such programs would be limited. However, this comes at a cost. Taxes would be hiked by around $466 for Northville residents in Option 1, with Mayfield residents seeing an approximately $20 drop. Under Option 2, neither community would feel the pain of an increase. In fact, Mayfield residents would see a decrease of over $400, and Northville residents would remain unaffected, for the most part.
However, more than money, parents we spoke to say the priority is clear. Mayfield parent Tonya Moore said, “You’ve got to look at the future, figure out what’s best for the kids.”
Capobiancl believes school pride may be keeping parents from being onboard. His response to them was, “If we don’t have any of those programs, it won’t matter if you’re a falcon or if you’re a panther. What do you have? You have nothing.”
As for the break-down, if the proposed merger goes through, students K-5 will be split between Mayfield Elementary and Northville. All junior high students will attend school at Northville, while high schoolers will be at Mayfield.
It may be not be the hardest transition, according to Williamsen. “I think the two school communities are very similar. More so than dissimilar,” he said.
Another informational meeting will be held Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Northville Central School, Room 26.
The public will then have a chance to give input and comment at community discussion meetings in the near future. The dates will be set by the respective districts. Following the community discussion meetings, the school boards will decide whether or not to reorganize the districts and then put a specific option up for a ‘straw vote,’ or advisory referendum, to the taxpayers.
If it passes, the State Education Department will work with the districts to determine a date for the statutory ‘binding’ referendum vote.
The merger would then take effect July 1, 2013.