The Mayfield and Northville school districts are preparing for the final step in their merger discussions, with public meetings scheduled for next week.
According to a news release, board of education members and administrators are preparing to gather feedback and answer the public's questions about the merger proposal at two upcoming meetings.
The first meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Mayfield High School library. The second meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Northville auditorium.
A public binding vote on the merger proposal is scheduled for Jan. 7.
If the merger is approved by a majority of voters in both communities, the new merged district would begin operation on July 1.
According to the news release, the SES Study Team, an independent consulting group that conducted an analysis, has prepared an update to the Mayfield-Northville merger study. The updated study is posted for public view on Mayfield's and Northville's websites.
The study includes suggestions for programs provided by the Joint Community Advisory Committee, made up of local residents from each district. Some of the programs or goals include social workers and psychologists available at the elementary level, reasonable class sizes in elementary and the high school, before- and after-school day care and summer school programs for kindergarten through 12th grade, among other goals.
"Based on all of the student program suggestions and perceptions shared by the [Joint Community Advisory Committee] members, the Study Team suggests a student program/staffing plan as a road map to be considered for a reorganization of Mayfield and Northville into one district," the study said.
According to Mayfield Board of Education Member Robert Suits, the updated study provides a more accurate view of the districts' finances.
Northville Board of Education President Sheldon Ginter said the study reflects the finances of the 2010-11 school year.
"We promised our constituents we would update [the finances] as much as possible," Ginter said.
Other than that, Ginter said the study basically is the same as the one released in 2011.
Suits said the update was necessary to give people an accurate picture of the current situation. The previous study, which was released in 2011, was out of date.
"It was done three years ago when we started this," Suits said.
"The consultants have prepared a thorough program and financial update to the original 2011 merger feasibility study," Mayfield Board of Education President Ernie Clapper said in the news release. "It's now up to the public to decide whether a merger makes sense for our students."
"We encourage residents to ask questions and cast an informed vote. This is too big an issue to not get involved," Ginter said in the release. "In addition to holding these public meetings, board members and administrators are also willing to meet with community and civic groups."
Ginter said he hopes the meetings have a good turnout. The district will have more meetings leading up to the Jan. 7 vote.
When the merger proposal went to a public vote in September 2012, Northville residents voted 457-256 against it. Mayfield residents voted 529-206 for the proposal. A straw poll held in Northville in June led the district to revisit the proposal. The straw-poll vote was 307-199 in support of the plan.