The Mayfield and Northville Central School Districts will start planning their immediate futures without the possibility of a merger between the two districts next year.
Mayfield and Northville voters went to the polls Tuesday to vote on whether the districts should continue with their proposal to merge. Mayfield school voters approved the plan in the nonbinding advisory referendum, but Northville school voters said no.
Had voters in both districts given approval in the so-called "straw vote," the proposal would have gone to a binding referendum in October.
Joe Salvione of Mayfield exits the voting booth at Mayfield High School on
Tuesday after voting on the proposed merger between the Mayfield and Northville school districts.
Mayfield voters approved the idea, but Northville voters rejected it,
ending the merger effort.
Because Northville voters rejected the plan, the current effort ends.
Northville residents voted 457-256 against the proposal Tuesday. Mayfield residents voted heavily in favor of the merger, with 529 voting for the proposal and 206 voting against it.
Northville Board of Education Vice President Sheldon Ginter said he believes Northville residents voted against the measure because they were basing their decisions on unreliable information.
"I think people in Northville were listening to some very vocal [people with] bad information," Ginter said.
He said with the costs of salaries, insurance and retirement benefits increasing at a rate of 12 percent to 15 percent a year, it's not realistic to think the district can survive on its own.
Northville Superintendent Kathy Dougherty said she understands why Mayfield residents voted in favor of the merger, as they were looking at a drop in property taxes.
According to the merger study, taxes would decrease in both communities during the first year of a merged district. After that, the new district would have to comply with the state's tax-levy cap.
She said Northville residents voted based on the information they received.
"I believe that those people that chose to get as complete a set of information as they wanted were provided with it," she said. "We were answering questions up until the last day. I think the people had the information they needed."
One Northville resident, who asked to remain unnamed, said he voted against the merger because he wants to keep the district small. He said Northville has the same problems as other schools in the state.
Mayfield Superintendent Paul Williamsen said the districts presented the merger information well.
He said he was pleased with how the Mayfield community responded, noting 72 percent voted in favor of the merger.
He said the Mayfield community saw the opportunity for the students next year and beyond.
The rejected vote in Northville means the two districts cannot try to merge again for another year.
Williamsen said he thinks Mayfield officials should look into other options or merging with other schools.
"We should have a discussion with another area school," he said. "If that's where the money is in incentive aid, we should explore those options."
Williamsen said Mayfield officials will have to start planning ahead without the merger and start looking at the budget for the 2013-14 school year.
He said the district will keep its options open on how to improve education.
"This is about our kids. How can we make this work for our kids," he said. "We need to provide great programming for our kids. This is not about adults. This is about kids."
Ginter said he doesn't think the Northville district will consider merging with any other school districts.
"A merger with Mayfield just makes the most sense due to the proximity of the two districts and the size of the two districts," he said. "And if Northville is not interested in merging with Mayfield, I can't imagine them being interested in merging with anybody else. I don't think there would be any other consideration."