The Mayfield and Northville school districts, which are considering merging into one district, recently eliminated one of two merger options. The district now is looking at only one option, which officials say would require no tax increase for residents in either district in at least the first year. The other option would have called for a tax increase in Northville.
The decision to reject what was known as "option one" should give the merger proposal new momentum.
The two school boards will decide Aug. 21 whether to put the merger plan up for a "straw vote" on Sept. 18. If the straw vote passes, the districts will schedule a binding merger vote for the fall, and if residents give the OK in that vote, the districts would begin to operate as a merged district July 1, 2013.
If the districts don't merge, officials in Mayfield expect the district would have a $1.9 million budget gap in 2013-14 and a $1.9 million budget gap in 2014-15, while officials in Northville estimate their district would have a $1 million budget gap in 2013-14 and a $1.5 million budget gap in 2014-15.
The plan could result in a tax decrease in Mayfield and offer financial stability to both districts for years. For that reason alone, the merger should be attractive to people living in the two districts.
There's another reason, too, and the public shouldn't lose sight of it. Under the merger plan, the new district would offer more programs and services than either district could offer on its own.
The combined financial savings and program improvements are big reasons the state strongly encourages neighboring school districts to consider mergers.
Residents of the Mayfield and Northville districts should continue to educate themselves on what would happen under the proposed merger and how each district would benefit from it as the straw vote approaches. Both districts have information about the plan on their websites.
The pros clearly outweigh the cons. Officials are putting a logical plan before the community, and it would be in voters' best interest to move forward with it.