On Tuesday, the residents of the Northville Central School District will have the opportunity to participate in a non-binding straw vote, which will determine if the district should continue to study a merger with Mayfield.
While attending public forums on this merger, it is clear that, even though the study committee has done a great job, there are still some valid questions that need to be addressed. Questions concerning the overall financial picture of the new district, transportation costs and schedules, tax levy alignment and board of education makeup a few of these questions. The positive vote on Tuesday will allow the boards the time needed to find these answers.
Although there are uncertainties on the details of a merged district, the future of Northville Central School without a merger seems pretty clear: large tax increases and/or program cuts. The 2013-14 school budget requires a 4.9 percent tax increase just to maintain the programming that we have. In order to keep the tax increase at this level, the board got creative and will be sharing services with Mayfield. This includes sharing a superintendent, a CSE (Committee for Special Education) chair, cafeteria manager and some sports teams. The total savings for Northville come to about $200,000. If we had to fund these on our own, it would add another 4 percent to the tax increase, bringing this year's increase to almost 9 percent.
If we were to demonstrate to Mayfield that we are not interested by voting no on the straw vote, they would more than likely begin merger talks with Broadalbin-Perth, who has already approached them.
In that case, Northville would be left on its own to fund everything, looking at potential double-digit tax increases in the future. Since we all know this kind of increase would likely be voted down, the result would be drastic cuts to an already barebones program.
Before we allow this to happen, don't we owe it to our kids to at least give boards the time to get us answers on the merger? I urge all residents of the district to vote on Tuesday, and to give our kids a chance by voting yes.