Sunday, September 23, 2012

QUESTION: How many members serve on other schools in NYS, and how long are their terms of office?

According to the NYS School Board Association, there are some 620 or so school districts in NYS.  Among them, more than half (53%) are comprised of 7 board members, another quarter have 5 members (25%), and one in five have 9 members (20%). Most typically these members serve three year terms of office (71%). Most of the rest (27%) have terms of five years.

Of course these schools are of varying sizes. What if we look at schools that are within 200 students (plus or minus) of what we would have in the merged district of Herkimer, Ilion and Mohawk?  In that case almost all of the schools have 3 year terms of office and more than half have 7 board members.

Hopefully this type of data can help you decide how many board members and how long the terms of office should be when you enter the booth to vote on October 18th !

QUESTION: What Will We Be Voting On For The Final October 18 Ballot?

Many people are wondering what the actual ballot on October 18th will look like? 

Well the exact layout and wording is not finalized yet, however we do know that voting there will be three parts to the ballot.

First, we have to vote (ONE MORE TIME) to support the merger of the Herkimer, Ilion, and Mohawk school districts. While this has passed twice already, DON'T FORGET TO STILL VOTE IN FAVOR OF THE MERGER ! This is the single most important part of the ballot ! We need to make a stand and pass this once again!

Second, we will be asked how many school board members we'd like to have represent the new district. Typically this is 3,5,7, or 9. A future post will talk about what other NYS schools have in terms of the number of board members.

Third, we will be asked how long the terms of members of the new board will be. Again, this tends to be either 3, 5, or 7 years. Information about the typical lengths of terms will be found in a future post.

So as you can see, there will be three questions - should we merge, how many board member should represent us, and how long should those board members serve. It's as easy as...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Signs For The Merger

We still have a FEW signs left if someone would like to show there support for the merger ! The nonbinding straw vote is on September 12th, so now is the time to share your feelings about this important step toward improving our kids education ! Contact us at friends of the merger ( and we'll be sure to get a sign to you ASAP ! But hurry because they are going fast !

Friday, June 22, 2012

Tipping The Scales: A Side-By-Side Comparison of the Merger With The Separate Districts

This post is about a side by side comparison of the reality of merging the three districts, versus what the districts will have separately if no merger were to occur. Sometimes it’s helpful to see them in terms of a balance scale, with the merger on one side, and the non-merger on the other. These are simple facts, comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges.

EXPENSES: Let’s start with the basics of the economics of merging the three districts. As seen on the scale below, the districts total anticipated expenditures for the 2012-2013 school year would be about $63.3 million. A merged district would have a proposed budget that is very similar, coming in at about $63.9 million. That is less than 1% higher and of course comes with a LOT of additional course offerings, extracurricular activities, transportation support, etc. In the end they are pretty close to being equal in terms of how much money the districts would spend regardless of whether they merged or not.
REVENUES: But what about the revenues available to the districts ?  Regular state aid monies are anticipated to be identical, regardless of whether the merger takes place. The three districts would get about $41.3 million in state aid separately in 2012-2013. That is the same anticipated regular state aid that the merged district would get. So the revenue side of the budget would be identical regardless of whether the merger occurs or not.
INCENTIVE AID: If the expenditures and the revenues are going to be the same, then what’s the fiscal advantage of merging? That’s where the incentive aid comes in ! Almost $59 million in incentive aid will ONLY be available to the merged district. Let’s repeat that – $59 million will ONLY be available IF the three districts go ahead with the merger. The proposal is that this will result in (at least initially) $6.2 million more each year !

So fiscally a merged district:
  • Doesn’t cost anything more appreciably to run (less than 1% more in cost)
  • Get’s the same amount of regular state aid
  • Receives $59 million in special incentive aid

So the question is: Do we want to leave $59 on the table for some other districts in another part of the state to use as part of their merger ?

ACADEMICS: This is of course, not just about the money ! It’s also about the students and their educational experiences. What does a merged district offer compared to the three districts remaining separate when it comes to academics? It turns out, a lot ! When you look at just the core courses (English, Math, Social Studies and Science), students gain a huge advantage by being able to access more classes. In addition, language, technology, art, and music courses will be expanded in both the secondary and elementary schools ! There is also a big jump in the exposure that secondary students will have to Advance Placement and College Now opportunities. Almost 25 AP or College Now courses will be available in the new district. That translates into about one out of every six course that can provide a student with college credit !


So as you considered the merger of the three districts versus keeping them separate…

…Consider expenditures: they are almost identical;
…Consider revenues: they will get the same amount of regular state aid;
…Consider access to incentive aid: $59 million IF the merger takes place, $0 if it doesn’t; and
…Consider the academic opportunities gained through merging !

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

QUESTION: So What Will This Merged District Cost?

The merged district will offer new sports, new music and language programs and more course options for students. How much will all of this cost ?

While there is no doubt that a primary concern of many people (not the least of which is our students themselves!) is the educational value that a merged district can offer, there is another concern, particularly to those paying taxes – What will the cost of this new merged district be like in comparison to what we presently have ?

In order to talk about the costs, let’s look at the basic component parts of any budget – expenditures and revenues.

EXPENDITURES - The expenditures are basically the costs of doing the business of educating our young people. Estimating the expenditures for the 2013-2014 school year, the three districts as they presently exist have a combined set of expenditures of around $63.3 million. That is the combined cost of all three districts operating separately.

In comparison, the merged district expenditures are projected to total about $63.9 million for the same school year. This is about $600,000 more than the districts separately. This is less than 1% more than is currently spent in each of the three districts.

But what about the revenue side of the equation ?

REVENUES - In terms of revenues, without getting into the morass of funding streams, basically the three districts operating as separate entities get roughly $41.3 million from the State of New York in “regular” state aid. This actually includes federal as well as state aid, and some miscellaneous aid but for the sake of discussion it will be referred to as “regular” state aid.

This amount of “regular” aid wouldn’t change in a merged district. So the usual state aid coming into the merged district would remain at about $41.3 million. But there is additional aid that will also be available to the merged district that wouldn’t be to the districts if they remain separate. This is state incentive aid. In total, the new district would have about $59 million made available to it in “incentive” aid over a 14 year period ! The study suggests that the money be allocated over that period of time at a clip of about $6.2 million each year. This money does decline in the 6th year of the 14 year cycle, being reduced annually by about $620,000 each year. See this post about how the Study team proposes we manage this incentive aid.

BOTTOM LINE - So back to the question – how much does this cost us financially ? Well, the expenditures between the two possible arrangements (merged versus separate districts) are essentially the same - $63 million. The potential revenues are substantially different.
Expenditures, Revenues, and State Incentive Aid
Regardless of whether the districts merge, “regular” state aid will be the same - $41.3 million. It is ONLY if we merge that we get a financial boost – specifically $59 million in “incentive” aid spread across 14 years. So in terms of revenue, a merged district has (at least initially) a $6 million per year advantage over the present arrangement.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE - So what happens when that aid runs out in 14 years ? Well, there are three answers to that.

The first is that the Study suggests placing some $10 million over the life of the incentive aid into the reserve fund of the new district. This will help stretch out the fiscal advantage of the merger even further.

Second, the Study suggest applying $10 million to paying off some of the district’s debt in order to free additional monies for the future as well. The less you pay in debt services, the more you have for other things. Again, this extends the impact of the incentive aid further into the future beyond the 14 year payout period.

Lastly, what happens is that the district is no worse off than the three are right now ! If in 14 years the incentive aid flat out ends, and we have done nothing else, we will still have a school system with expenditures almost identical to what we they would have been if no merge took place, and a stream of “regular” state aid that would also be the same. What we WILL have gotten is $59 million in the meantime that has helped us established a superior educational system to what we have presently, in light of the cuts to staffing and programs that we have had to endure.

In the end, the expenditures to teach our kids will be the same regardless of whether we merge; the regular state aid we receive will also be the same whether we combine the districts or not.

The real fiscal question is “Do we want to leave $59 million on the table ?”

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Twenty Five Reasons To Favor The Merger

Here are 25 reasons 
to favor  the merger 
of the three
school districts !

  1. English 111 (College Now)
  2. English 112 (College Now)
  3. English Language and Composition (AP)
  4. American History I (College Now)
  5. American History II (College Now)
  6. US History (AP)
  7. Psychology (College Now)
  8. Civil War (College Now)
  9. World History (AP)
  10. Contemporary Math (College Now)
  11. Calculus (College Now)
  12. Pre-Calculus (College Now)
  13. Pre-Calculus Honors (College Now)
  14. Math Statistics I (College Now)
  15. Calculus AB (AP)
  16. Anatomy and Physiology (College Now)
  17. Biology and Lab (AP)
  18. Geology (College Now)
  19. Spanish IV (College Now)
  20. French IV (College Now)
  21. French V (College Now)
  22. Music Theory (College Now)
  23. Performance Theater (College Now)
  24. Music in Our Lives (College Now)  

Rising to the Top - AP and College Now Courses

While we have looked at the core and non-core courses that will be available in the merged school district, there is another subset of courses that have truly suffered within the area as a result of cuts and budget restrictions. These are the "College Now" and "Advance Placement" (AP) courses.

College Now courses are basically college courses taught by high school teachers where if a student passes the course they can receive college course credit. AP courses are college level coursework that's a bit more stringent in that a student needs to pass the course and achieve a higher level of accomplishment in order to get college credit.

In a merged district, almost 25 AP or College Now courses (combined) will be available to students ! That would be about ONE out of every SIX courses offered in the H.I.M. district that would be either an AP or College Now class !

This is a tremendous boost for those wanting to attend college by letting them earn college credit before they actually graduate from high school ! At present, Herkimer only offers about a dozen such courses, Mohawk offers less than ten, and Ilion offers about 18 College Now or AP courses. Students presently in all three districts could have their opportunities for college credit work increase substantially if the three districts merge.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Beyond Core Courses: Other Classroom Advantages for Students

As noted in an earlier post on core courses, the most important part of the whole merger discussion is the students, and the increased opportunities that they will have in a merged district. The earlier post pointed out how among the core courses (meaning courses in either English, Math, Science or Social Studies) students in the current districts could see between 20 and 40 new course offerings to them when the districts merge. Of course it's NOT just about improvements and increases in the four main subjects one typically thinks of when you attend school. It's also about things like music, and the arts, as well as technology and languages.

Below are several graphics that show the potential increase in course offerings in these areas that students will also have once the districts merge. Many of these are from programs that have been cut or reduced. They now stand to be resurrected when the districts unite and pool their resources more efficiently and effectively.

Click on any of the graphics to see how current students in Herkimer, Ilion and Mohawk will fare in new course offerings in these academic areas.

Number of New Language Courses

Number of New Music and Art Courses

Number of New Technology Courses

QUESTION: How will the New District Look Administratively and Will it Cost More ?

How will the new district look administratively ? And will the cost of the administrative positions be higher in the merged district ?

Some people have wondered if the administrative positions will balloon in the merged district and take up more of the budget. The study doesn't propose this at all.Currently the average cost of an administrative position in the three districts combined is about $124,500. This is the current average salary for certified administrators for the school buildings and certified administrators with central district-wide responsibilities.

Presently there are 16.5 such positions in three districts. In the merged district the study proposes 1.5 fewer certified administrative positions for a total of 15 in the new configurations. Based on the average salary of those positions this represents a savings of nearly $190,000 for the district taxpayers !

So the new district will be smaller administratively, and cost less.

If you have other questions about the study please let us know !

Monday, May 28, 2012

QUESTION: How Will My School Taxes Change When the Three Districts Merge?

 How will school taxes be impacted by the merge of the three districts?

Tax levies are a difficult thing to sometimes understand. Probably the easiest way to think about them is talking about how much you would pay in taxes on a house worth $100,000 depending on which district you presently live in. We can then compare that to how much you would pay for the same house in a merged district.

According to the analysis of the study, if you presently live in the Herkimer School District you pay about $2051 in school taxes on a home worth $100,000. Homeowners in the Mohawk School District pay about $2108 for that same house in school taxes. Ilion homeowners pay about $1732 in school taxes for a house valued at $100,000.

In a merged district, the proposed budget has been structured to take advantage of the $59 million in new incentive aid and help keep property taxes under control. Given that the Ilion District has the lowest tax rates, the basic levy of the new district would be such that all taxpayers would pay no more than what Ilion District residents presently do. Hence, the tax rates in the Mohawk and Herkimer districts would be reduced such that all taxpayers of the newly merged district now would pay about $1732 in school taxes for a home worth $100,000.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Look at the Start and End of Days in the New District with the Three Existing Districts

Below is a graphic that shows what the start and end times to school days would look like for our K through 6 graders, 7th and 8th graders, and our senior high students in a merged district as compared to the current districts. Each of these three categories of students is presented side by side so you can look across the graph and see how each group's day (K through 6th graders, 7th and 8th graders, and 9th through 12th graders) would be in in a merged district in comparison to the three districts as they are now configured.

Click on the figure below to see a full sized view of the contents.

Start and End Times for Students Currently and in Merged District

QUESTION:How Do Current Enrollments And Building Capacities Match Up Among Our Elementary Schools Right Now?

Recently a question came up about the extent to which the elementary school buildings currently being utilized are at capacity. It was suggested that the buildings are already at capacity. This is not the case.

NOTE: The enrollments listed here are the CURRENT ones, which include 5th and 6th graders. In a merged district, those two grades would not be part of the elementary population. 

That being said, among the 4 elementary schools, Herkimer has the largest capacity, at 800 pupils. However their actual enrollment is about 630 students. Ilion's two elementary schools have a total capacity of 1114 pupils, but their enrollments are at 827. The Fisher Elementary School has a capacity of 578, but only has an enrollment of 418.

All in all, each of the districts elementary schools (including 5th and 6th grade students) are being utilized at between 72% and 78%.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

QUESTION: Are Class Sizes Being Increased To Accommodate the Merger?

Are the number of students in classrooms being increased in order to accommodate this merger?

In every practical sense - NO. With a VERY minor exception.

At present each district establishes it class room sizes by grade through contract language and Board of Education policy. The superintendents report that each district currently tries to achieve the following class section sizes as a best practice in serving the pupils and in utilizing the skill sets of the teachers at each grade level:
  • Pre-Kindergarten: 18 pupils per class section
  • Kindergarten and grade 1: 20 pupils per class section
  • Grades 2 and 3: 22 pupils per class section
  • Grade 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8: 24 pupils per class section
  • Grades 9, 10, 11, and 12 (core subjects): 25 pupils per class section
 The Study document for the merger cites the following as the goals of the class room sizes:
  • Kindergarten and grade 1: 20 pupils per class section
  • Grades 2 and 3: 22 pupils per class section
  • Grades 4, 5, and 6: 24 pupils per class section
  • Grades 7-12: 25 pupils per class section
The only difference would be that in the newly merged district 7th and 8th graders would be in classes where the pupils per classroom could increase by 1, from 24 to 25 pupils per class section. THAT IS THE ONLY DIFFERENCE IN CLASS ROOM SIZES BEING CONSIDERED.

So overall the planned merger contains no real differences in class sizes.

If you have other questions about the study please contact the

QUESTION: Does Barringer Road Have the Capacity to Handle the Combined K-4 Enrollment of Ilion?

Does Barringer Road Elementary School have the capacity to handle the K-4 student population of Ilion now and in the future?

The short answer is that Barringer Road should be able to handle the current enrollment, as well as the future enrollment, of the district. In the study the CONSERVATIVE capacity of Barringer Elementary was estimated at 584 students. In reality the actual capacity is about 10% higher than that according to the Study Team. That would mean a true assessment of the capacity of the building is about 642 students.

This "lowering" of the capacity level by 10% as part of the study document is done as a way to provide the most conservative estimate possible. That way districts can have some leeway in their planning - which is exactly what has occurred here. So in reality the building at Barringer Road can handle about 10% more than the 584 capacity cited in the study, which translates into around 640 kids.

So is this true capacity of Barringer a problem? Current enrollment for the next year for K-4 in Ilion is 594 pupils. Projection models vary widely in terms of how many students will be in Ilion in 5 years (2016-2017). It could be as low as 504 pupils, and possibly as high as 632. In both cases these numbers are still under the maximum capacity of the building.

There is another factor which can be brought to bear on any potential crowding in the elementary school in Ilion in a merger as well. Some parents who border on the current district with Mohawk could be given the option of sending their children to Fisher Elementary School. In some cases parents might do so because it is actually closer and represents less travel time for their young children. They also may way to take advantage of the program at Fisher. At any rate, some parents may chose to actually have their children attend the elementary program in Mohawk instead of going to Ilion's Barringer Road.

Our understanding is that NO ONE would be forced to change schools. This would be a voluntary move on the part of parents and something that they would be given a chance to contemplate.

Lastly, and just as a matter of consideration, the Ilion School District has been discussing the possibility closing Remington Elementary School for some time now. Regardless of whether or not a merger occurs, Remington School has been considered for closure. So it seems reasonable to conclude that Barringer Road, as an facility, may well be the only elementary school in Ilion at some point in the not-so-distant future regardless of a where or not a merger takes place. In the event that a merger does occur, then the options noted above become possible. In the case that a merger does not happen, then the district may be looking to shuffle building configurations within Ilion to something different than they are now.

So hopefully this provides some insight into what the true capacity is of Barringer Road.

Access to More Core Courses Through the Three District Merger

Too often in the process of looking at the challenges and opportunities of merging school districts the focus is on only the money – be it the incentive aid offered by the State, the tax levies affected by the combining of districts or the savings offered by the consolidation of services and personnel.  

Lost in the discussion can be the most important part of any merge – the students of the districts. While there are lots of issues important to our students, one that we heard a lot about during the attempt to merge Herkimer, Ilion, Mohawk and Frankfort was about specific courses that might be available if the districts joined together.

The most recent study involving only Herkimer, Ilion and Mohawk actually has supplied a listing of classes presently taught in the three districts. This allows a cross comparison of the specific courses that can be offered in a merged school district. The study team reviewed courses in all three schools and determined the degree to which courses matched up between districts. It was then possible to see what courses any given district doesn’t presently offer but could be offered through a merger, since personnel and course plans would already be in place.

Based on this cross referencing, it is now possible to see what new types of courses students from the existing districts will have available to them in the new merged district. An earlier post on this blog actually has a partial listing of specific courses that students in the current districts would have available when the merger takes place.

Below are some graphics to help get a better sense of the impact of these new offerings for students just in terms of core subject areas – namely English, Math, Science and Social Studies. These are the types of courses that often are the most important in preparing students for the rigors of college.

In the end, as you can also see, students from each of the three districts stand to gain access to a considerably greater number of core courses than they have now. Students from Ilion would have access to nearly 20 new courses just among core subjects; Herkimer students would see a total of almost 30 new course offerings in English, Math, Science and Social Studies; and students from Mohawk could have access to more than 40 new core subject courses !

Click on any of the graphics below to see how access to new courses in each of the core subjects impacts students from your district !

Number of New English Classes

Number of New Math Classes

Number of New Science Classes

Number of New Social Studies Classes

Total Increase in New Core Courses For Students

QUESTION: Do I Have To Vote AGAIN For the Merger to Take Place?

I cast a vote in the straw vote for the four-district merger in January.  Do I need to vote again for this three-district merger?

Answer:  Yes!  Your previous vote does not carry over for THIS merger vote.  The straw vote for the three-district merger will take place on Wednesday, September 12.  The purpose of this non-binding vote is to see if there is enough support, or not, for the idea of a merge between our districts.  If each of the three communities vote in favor of the merger, the final binding referendum will be held on Thursday, October 18.  
Remember that you must vote again in the final referendum in order for your vote to count!  The vote you cast in the straw vote in September does NOT count again in the final vote. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

QUESTION: What are the chances that the NYS Incentive Aid will be cut once we merge?

What are the chances that the incentive aid that the State of New York provides to districts will be cut or reduced once a merger of the three districts takes place ? 

While no one can predict the future, certainly we can look at the past and see how many times this has ever happened to get a sense of what the chances are it will happen to us now. State incentive aid has been around since the 1920s for districts that chose to merge. In the early 1980's the incentive aid actually doubled for districts that went through with a merger. Since 1983,  33 merged districts have been created, and all received state incentive aid.  


So it seems pretty clear given the history of this specific aid, and given the increase in state monies for studying mergers, that the incentive funds that would be allocated to the Herkimer-Ilion-Mohawk School District will in fact be there for the entire period of time they are supposed to be, and in the full amount.

Monday, May 21, 2012

QUESTION: What will the $59 million in State Incentive Aid be used for?

 What will the incentive aid be used for and what will happen when it is gone after year 14 (or after 2026)?

Primarily the money will be used in order to accomplish four goals - reestablish fiscally strong reserved funds for the new district; enable the first year of the transportation portion of the merger plan to go forward with no new impacts; pay down some of the debt that the new district will inherit from the three old districts; and reduce the tax levy that comes with assimilating the three districts into one.

Before talking about each of those, it is important to recognize that State Incentive Aid is often a driving force in deciding whether or not to vote for a merger. In the case of the Herkimer-Ilion-Mohawk (H.I.M.) merger, almost $59 million are projected to be available in incentive monies for the new district. This money is paid out at a flat rate for five years, then at year six begins to be reduced annually by roughly $400,000 for each of the next nine years.

So how will the four goals mentioned above be accomplished? 

  1.  Reserve Funds - Roughly $10 million dollars will be placed into the reserve fund of the H.I.M Schools over the 14 years that incentive aid comes to the district. This money will basically come (other than the first year) at a clip of $1.2 million for 4 years then a declining balance each year after that up until 2026. 
  2. Aid to Transportation - For the first year of the merge only, about $784,000 will be used to address any first year costs to establishing the new transportation plan for the district. 
  3. Debt Reduction of New District - $1 Million a year, for the first 10 years will be used to pay outstanding debt of the new district. While the total debt of the district is far greater than $10 million, any reduction of this debt helps free more money toward other costs in the district. 
  4. Reduction of the Tax Levy - $4 million will be used annually for the first 5 years to keep tax levies at or below current amounts for residents of all three current districts. This will then be reduced proportionately over the next 9 years.

So what happens when the money from state aid is gone in 14 years? There are several things that should help to ease the transition from having this state incentive aid to NOT having it. First, more than $10 million will have been placed in reserve. Part of those monies could be used to continue to help mediate the tax levies to some extent. Second, as the district begins to gel, undoubtedly there will be savings due to improved coordination and efficiencies. Third, there are already savings built into the present plan, through efficiencies in teaching and class sizes etc.

But more importantly that any of those, is that we, as voters, have the right and the obligation to hold the new Board of Education of the H.I.M. District responsible for properly maintaining the interests of all of those that pay taxes. So IF for some reason when the 14 years of incentive money is depleted we are not in a fiscally sound environment, we can and should hold those on the H.I.M. Board of Education responsible.

If you have other questions or comments please let us know at !

Sunday, May 20, 2012

QUESTION: What Will Be The Building Configuration Of the New District?

Given that Frankfort Schuyler is no longer part of the merger discussion, what will the new district look like in terms of buildings in operation?

This is a common question many of the Friends of the Three District Merge have heard many times. There are some small changes but pretty much the same configuration would be in place that was proposed earlier.

  • Elementary Schools would remain open in each district, and would now serve pre-K through 4th grade. The Remington Elementary School in Ilion would be closed, or at least no longer house students.While closing a school is not an easy thing, the Board of Education in Ilion has discussed reconfiguring their elementary program for some time now, and one of the options includes closing Remington. So the merger plan reflects that in some ways. Other than Remington, all other elementary schools will remain open and house lower grades as noted above. 
  • An Upper Elementary School would be housed at the Jarvis School in Mohawk. This would be for 5th and 6th grade students. By bringing together ALL of the new district's students at a relatively  young age, they can begin to develop a sense of unity and community. In addition, it was felt that 5th and 6th grade students would be better prepared to be exposed to new and exciting course work that would be offered in the new district, such as foreign languages. Socially, educationally, and administratively this was seen as a great opportunity to bring together the new district's kids for the first time in a one school setting.
  • A Middle School would be established at the Herkimer High School. This would be for all 7th and 8th graders. Students would continue to experience new course offerings and develop a sense of community as they prepare for entry into the high school. It would also be possible for them to take advantage of the swimming pool.
  • The High School would be established at the current Ilion High School complex. It would include 9th through 12th graders.

This will be the basic configuration of the new district ! If you have other questions about the merger, please contact the Friends of the Merge at !

Saturday, May 19, 2012

QUESTION: Will Ilion Elementary Kids Have to Go to Mohawk?

Recently a question came up about whether Ilion Elementary school kids would be forced to go to Fisher Elementary in Mohawk as part of the merge of the three districts?  The answer is NO.

The question hinges on the idea that with the closing of Remington Elementary as part of the Merge Plan that Barringer Road wouldn't have enough space to accommodate grades K through 4.

Several things need to be pointed out.

  • The projected enrollments are VERY conservative, which is to say that they represent a high estimate of the number of kids, and a low estimate of the amount of space. This was done purposefully for just such a situation. So while it might be close in numbers for putting all K through 4 in Barringer, it is not impossible. 
  • Our district population IS declining in numbers. Cornell University projects a decline in our population through the year 2030. So space should, over the long run, become more available at all the schools, including our elementary schools.
  • The Ilion School District is looking at changing and restructuring their district elementary schools REGARDLESS of the merge. One of those options appears to include closing Remington. So the planned merger is actually only doing something that already is likely to be occurring on some level in the not-so-distant future.
  • No district lines for elementary school are being changed in the proposed plan. Some PARENTS, however, may choose, if they live in close proximity to one of the other elementary school boundaries, to have their child attend one of the other schools. So for example, parents with children in elementary school in Ilion, that live close Mohawk may ask that their child attend Fisher Elementary School. The CHOICE is up to the PARENTS !
Hopefully this answers a question posed to the Friends of the Merge. If you have a question you'd like answered, please send us an email at

Friday, May 18, 2012

Potential Courses Offered In The New District

While no one can guarantee that specific courses will be offered each semester after the three districts merge, a look at the current courses offered in each of the three districts suggests a LARGE number of new classroom opportunities that might be available for students that never were before in their home districts.

For example, here is a sample of courses that students currently in school in Mohawk might have access to that they didn't before. These are currently offered in either Ilion or Herkimer but not in Mohawk.

  • Mohawk: English Honors Programs; College Now English Program; Creative Writing; Global Studies Honors Program; College Now American History; Psychology; Civil War Studies; AP World History; Sociology; Extended Algebra Series; Geometry Honors; Trigonometry; College Now Calculus; Statistics; Science Honors Program; Environmental Science; Astronomy; Anatomy and Physiology; AP Biology; Geology; French; Chinese Language; Music Theory College Now; Orchestra; Beginning and Advanced Guitar; Piano Keyboard; Art History; Photography; Advanced Art; Commercial Art; Computer Apps; Desktop Publishing and Web Design; Parenting; Clothing and Fashion; Housing and Interior Design; Architectural Drafting; Principles of Engineering; Robotics; Women’s Health; Hawaiian Studies Course

For students from Herkimer, there are also a lot of new classroom opportunities with the newly formed district. Based on courses offered by the programs in Ilion and Mohawk, these are some of the new offerings high schoolers from Herkimer would be able to now consider taking !

  • Herkimer: English Honors Programs (10 and 11); AP English; Global Studies II Honors Program; College Now American History; Military History; Extended Algebra Series; Geometry Honors; Intermediate and Honors Trigonometry; AP Calculus; Chemistry Honors Program; Physics Honors Program; AP Biology; Music Theory College Now; Hawaiian Studies Course; Geology; French; Chinese Language; Orchestra; Photography; Advanced Art program; Desktop Publishing and Web Design; Electricity; Material Processing; Robotics; 

Current Ilion students would also have some new course offering that otherwise they would never have access to! Classes that are presently available in either Herkimer or Mohawk that now could be available in the new district to former Ilion students would include:

  • Ilion: Journalism; Creative Writing; Rock and Roll Studies; College Now Psychology; Military History; AP World History; Sociology; The Holocaust; Astronomy; College Now Trigonometry; French Language Series; Beginning and Advanced Guitar; Drawing; Painting; Ceramics; Sculpture; Art History; Business Communications; Accounting; Clothing and Fashion Design II; Electricity; Material Processing; Computer Aided Design; Principles of Engineering; Production Systems; Women’s Health

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but a sample of types of new courses that students from the current districts could have available to them in when the three join together ! These represent an increase in the quality and value of the educational opportunities that all of our children will have after the merge.