Oppenheim-Ephratah approves merger with St. Johnsville in second vote
OPPENHEIM, EPHRATAH & ST. JOHNSVILLE One year after rejecting the proposal, residents of the Oppenheim-Ephratah Central School District voted today to merge with the neighboring St. Johnsville Central School District.
The vote was 385-366 for the merger.
The next step will occur in about six weeks, when residents of both districts will vote again on the constitution of a new board of education, determining the number of members and their terms. The state Education Department will establish these guidelines.
Residents will vote again six weeks after that to pick new board members, and the new district will debut July 1, 2013.
O-E residents rejected the plan in a referendum last year, 458-400, while residents of St. Johnsville residents backed it.
The second vote came about when O-E residents petitioned the state education commissioner in November. Only O-E residents were allowed to vote this time around.
The district's Board of Education will meet Dec. 20, board President Benedict Conte said Tuesday. Had the merger gone down the second time, the board would have likely moved forward with plans to pay other school districts to educate O-E students as a cost-saving option.
The new district will be eligible for $14 million in enhanced aid over the next 14 years. School officials said they will use the money to stabilize the property tax rate, for academic and sports programming and for capital projects.