With reduction in state aid and the continued dreary economic forecast, school districts are forced to find new ways to survive including possible consolidations or mergers. New York State Education Commissioner John King explains why he is a proponent of multi-district mergers, addresses concerns from the communities, and discusses his relationships with the decision-making parties involved.
'New York NOW' visits the Mohawk valley where the Frankfort-Schuyler, Ilion, Herkimer and Mohawk school districts are discussing the effects a merger would have on their students and communities. Bob Reina, the Frankfort-Schuyler Superintendent notes that it is an emotional issue for the towns involved and ultimately it is the people's decision. There has been tremendous community opposition and the majority of residents do not want the merger due to issues such as larger classrooms, longer bus rides, and decreased opportunities for students who want to play sports.
Many of these towns view the schools as the focal point of their communities and are having a difficult time dealing with the impending loss of identity. There have been four completed mergers over the past decade in New York with 29 other clusters of schools considering the option. John King notes that mergers are a viable method for saving money and to give students access to programs that will help them succeed in the future.