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Forks/Valley District Residents Will Vote on Merger

In Chenango Forks Monday evening, the school board meeting became a two hour discussion on whether or not the public, in a straw vote, should have their chance to decide on a merged Chenango Forks- Chenango Valley school district.

When the board did finally decide, it wasn't without dissenting votes.  The Forks school board voted 3-2 in favor of the straw vote.

Board President Don Edwards was one of those three votes.

"I've said right along that I believe that's important, and is critical to the district that it has to be voted by the public," said Edwards.

There was plenty of objections from some members of the public
as well as members of the board like it's Vice President.

"I don't feel comfortable (with it).  It's settled now obviously, and now we move forward," said board vice president Spyros Dimatos.

Dimatos said the merger study has too many flaws, like how the study doesn't include state aid for the second school year of the new merged district.

"(The numbers) are not going to be exact because it's a guestimate.  They would run it whatever the current rate is, so we would have a base line to compare," said Dimatos.

On the other side of the river, a not so contentious meeting where all nine members of the Chenango Valley school board voted in favor of the straw vote.  But not without raising similar concerns about missing information in the merger study.  The board feels it's time to let the public's voices be heard.

"In the past, we've talked and everybody's been very for having the public make the decision and not stopping at the board level," said Chenango Valley School Board President Gerald Abbey.

In a merged district, there are no proposed cuts to teachers, rather the cuts would be in athletics and in administration.

According to the study, an average home in Forks would pay $300 dollars more a year in taxes, and for those living in Chenango Valley would see a $200 dollar decrease in their school tax bill.

If voters from both districts approve the merger in the straw vote on December 3rd, a referendum for final approval would take place in January.

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