It was close, but Oppenheim-Ephratah and St. Johnsville school districts will officially become one. As YNN's Maria Valvanis explains, O-E residents approved the merger by less than twenty votes.
MOHAWK VALLEY, N.Y. -- “I think they should have done it a long time ago,” said Oppenheim resident, Guy Schaff.
But better late than never. Oppenheim-Ephratah residents voted on the proposed merger with the St. Johnsville School District for the second time. This go around, they approved.
“I think it will be to everyone's advantage, both the tax payers, and the students that go here,” said Schaff.
But not everyone agrees. The merger was approved by 385 votes for and 366 against. St. Johnsville residents didn't participate in the re-vote, because they already approved the merger last year.
One voter said, "I don't think we should merge, I don't think we need the burden of St. Johnsville's bills."
But school officials say the combined district will bring along $14 million in state aide. O-E has made several cuts to both staff and programs, due to a lack of funds. St. Johnsville isn't in as severe of financial woes yet, but they want to keep it that way.
"With O-E with us I believe we can do more, for more students," said St. Johnsville superintendent, Laura Campione-Lawrence.
O-E superintendent, Dan Russom, said, "We're hoping we can enhance programs and make them much stronger, so we can provide better opportunity for students."
The new district will begin July 1st, giving both districts more than seven months to systematically become one.
"Both districts have to be uniform, not just with student management, but also with the curriculum and that’s a huge piece," said Campione-Lawrence."
First on the agenda will be to elect a single board of education. But for now, students are just happy they won’t have to loose anymore of the programs they love.
Student Justin Adair said, “Our music is really big here, I'm in band myself, I'd hate to see it go.”