Residents to vote on terms, size of Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville board

Monday, January 28, 2013
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— Residents of the newly-formed Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville Central School District will head to the polls today to help configure their new Board of Education.

Both districts sent voters to the polls in December 2011, at which time St. Johnsville voters approved the plan, 461-79, but Oppenheim-Ephratah voters rejected it, 458-400.

Oppenheim-Ephratah voters revisited the merger again in December 2012 and approved it, setting in motion the vote taking place today.

Residents of the merged district will find two propositions on the ballot: one to decide the size of the Board of Education, the other to determine the length of terms for board members.

According to the Oppenheim-Ephratah district website, voters will choose a Board of Education consisting of either five, seven or nine board members. They also will select terms of three, four or five years for these board members.

There are six members of the Oppenheim-Ephratah Board of Education and five on the St. Johnsville board. The two districts have about 347 and 448 students, respectively.

The decision will impact not only the makeup of the board, but also how it operates.

St. Johnsville board president David Christopher Mosher, who has served eight years on the Board of Education, said lengthier terms can lead to more informed representatives.

He said it takes about two years of serving on the board just to get one’s “feet wet.”

“It does take some time,” he said.

As for the other question, he said larger boards can have a more difficult decision making process because there are more voices and personalities weighing in.

HFM BOCES Superintendent Patrick Michel said voters should select what they feel best suits them.

He said that in his experience, a larger board of education is less likely to fall under the control of a single member, because one person with an agenda can more easily manipulate a smaller board than a larger board.

He also said it takes as many as three years for a member of the community to learn the ropes and become a productive member of a board of education. “It takes about two or three years to really learn the craft of being a trustee or board member,” he said.

Voting will take place from noon to 8 p.m. today at the David H. Robbins Elementary School at 61 Monroe St. in St. Johnsville. Shuttle buses are being made available for people unable to get to the polls, according to the Oppenheim-Ephratah school website.

A bus is picking residents up at 2 and 4:30 p.m. at the four firehouses in the district. Residents are asked to call the school district office at 568-2014, extension 104, to arrange for a ride.

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