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The Telegram
  • Commissioner OKs Ilion - Mohawk school merger

  • Voters in the Ilion and Mohawk school districts may be going to the polls next month to vote on a merger of the two districts.

    Ilion School Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra, Jr. had been scheduled to go to Albany Tuesday to meet with New York State Education Department officials about moving ahead with a two-district merger, but he said he learned Monday everything had been settled.

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  • Voters in the Ilion and Mohawk school districts may be going to the polls next month to vote on a merger of the two districts.
    Ilion School Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra, Jr. had been scheduled to go to Albany Tuesday to meet with New York State Education Department officials about moving ahead with a two-district merger, but he said he learned Monday everything had been settled.
    “We received the commissioner’s order and petitions,” he said during a telephone interview.
    The order lays out the proposed new Ilion - Mohawk school district.
    The districts must now collect signatures on petitions to be submitted to the State education commissioner by Jan. 14, Tangorra said.
    He added the petition showing support for the plan will take the place of another straw vote.
    If all goes according to plan, he expects the commissioner will call for a binding vote, probably the second week in February, possibly Feb. 12.
    Herkimer County BOCES Superintendent Mark Vivacqua said there are two petitions involved. The first, calling for a vote on a two-district merger, requires 100 signatures between the two districts. The second, for Mohawk residents only, requests a polling site in Mohawk for this vote. This petition requires signatures totaling 10 percent of the school enrollment. Vivacqua said otherwise there would be only one polling site and that would be in Ilion.
    Assuming the required signatures are collected, Vivacqua said, “The next order would be for the binding vote and that has to occur within 30 days after receipt of the petitions.”
    There would be three parts to the ballot.
    Voters would be asked whether or not they would approve the two-district merger, how many members should be on the school district board of education and how long their terms should be.
    The Herkimer, Ilion and Mohawk boards of education passed separate resolutions last month calling on state Education Commissioner John King, Jr. to rescind the order that laid out a central school district designated as the Herkimer - Ilion - Mohawk Central School District.
    The order was rescinded on Dec. 14, 2012, according to Tangorra.
    The Ilion and Mohawk school boards began discussing their options after Herkimer voters rejected a three-school merger proposal by fewer than 200 votes in October 2012, while Mohawk and Ilion voters approved the plan by substantial margins.
    According to state education law, after a binding referendum fails, school districts are to do nothing in terms of reorganizing for a year and a day. But the Ilion and Mohawk school boards on Oct. 24, 2012, passed resolutions to ask for special legislation that would allow another vote to take place sooner than permitted under current law.
    The original merger plan in August 2009 involved the Ilion and Mohawk school districts, but soon afterward Frankfort-Schuyler and Herkimer were added to the study. Frankfort-Schuyler voters rejected a four-school merger in an advisory vote on Jan. 19, 2012, and Herkimer voters rejected a three-school merger in an Oct. 18, 2012 binding vote.
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