ST. JOHNSVILLE, N.Y. - Residents in the Oppenheim-Ephratah Central School District voted in favor of a binding referendum Tuesday night, approving a merger with the St. Johnsville Central School District.
The referendum passed with 385 votes in favor, and 366 against the plan. St. Johnsville residents did not participate in Tuesday's referendum, as a majority of its voters already approved the merger proposal last December.
Superintendent Dan Russom says it is the best option for the Oppenheim-Ephratah Central School District, as the district is more than $700,000 in debt and enrollment has declined.
Russom says the district is after an additional $14 million in state aid over the next 14 years, which they qualify for with the approved merger.
"Without the incentive aid, we cannot continue to fund the current education program," Russom says. "We're going to have to cut, which is not good for our students."
The new district will begin operation on July 1, 2013.
In the coming months, residents in both districts will be asked to vote in additional referendums, the next of which will ask voters to decide how many members should be on the new board of education, and how long the members should serve per term. Once elected, the board of education of the new district will select a superintendent, begin working on a contract with the new teachers union and craft the district's first budget.