Residents in the Mayfield and Northville school districts will face an important decision Tuesday: whether to send the proposed merger of their school districts to a binding public vote in October.
We hope people voting in Tuesday's nonbinding advisory referendum see the benefits of moving the plan forward. To us, the advantages are clear.
A merger would eliminate the need for severe budget cuts and preserve many non-mandated programs. Without a merger, both school districts predict significant budget shortfalls over the next two school years.
If the merger doesn't go through, the schools may have to cut several non-mandated programs, including elementary art and music, elementary and high school libraries and media centers, high school electives, extracurricular activities such as interscholastic sports, and kindergarten and prekindergarten.
A merged district would allow more sports opportunities, including modified, junior varsity and varsity sports teams.
The new district would receive a significant increase in state funding through merger incentive aid. The district would receive nearly $19 million in additional aid from the state over the first 14 years of operation.
The new district would have a lot more financial stability than the two individual districts have now.
The merger would have no negative effect on property owners' school taxes. Mayfield property owners' school taxes would decrease while Northville property owners' would stay about the same.
The merger would require no new buildings. Each community would have a prekindergarten through grade five elementary school in existing buildings. Students in grades six through eight would attend middle school at the current Northville School, and students in grades nine through 12 would attend high school at the current Mayfield Jr./Sr. High School.
Those who think the merged district would be too big should put the size into perspective. The new district only would have 1,400 students - the same size as the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District.
Some parents have expressed concerns about their children not getting the same opportunities to be starters on sports teams. Granted, earning a top spot on a team probably wouldn't be as easy, but students would have a wider choice of sports.
Overall, students would have more extracurricular opportunities. They also would participate in strong academic programs and have access to resources they might not get from their current districts.
Voters should realize if Tuesday's advisory referendum fails in one or both communities, the merger process would end. If the advisory referendum passes in both communities, the process would continue with a binding vote Oct. 25. If the statutory referendum passes in both districts in October, the merger would become final and the new district would begin operating July 1, 2013.
Residents of both districts should set aside their emotions and examine the facts. Looking at the merger plan objectively, the pros heavily outweigh the cons.