Southern Adirondack school districts try again to merge

NORTHVILLE – The Northville Central School District plans to conduct a second nonbinding public vote to merge with the Mayfield Central School District.

Meanwhile, the two districts near the Adirondack Park’s southern boundary are making plans to share a superintendent.

Northville voters rejected the merger nine months ago in a nonbinding referendum. The new straw poll, if approved, would be a step toward a merger.

Northville Board of Education President James Beirlein said Thursday the Northville district would hold the second straw poll in June to see if the two districts will move on to a binding vote at a later date to combine the two districts. The school board still has to officially vote on whether to conduct the straw poll.

The Mayfield district voters approved the first straw poll in September and won’t have to vote again.

In the September vote, Northville district residents voted 457-256 against the merger proposal. Mayfield residents voted heavily in favor, 529-206.

Northville Board of Education Vice President Sheldon Ginter said in September he believed Northville residents voted against the measure because they were basing their decisions on unreliable information.

He said with the costs of salaries, insurance and retirement benefits increasing at a rate of 12 percent to 15 percent a year, it’s not realistic to think the Northville district can survive on its own.

Beirlein said Thursday that based on the information he has received from John Sira, a Northville resident and supporter of the merger, many people thought the vote in September was a binding vote rather than one that would have allowed the district to look into the issue further and schedule a binding vote.

“They didn’t feel they had enough information,” Beirlein said.

This time, Beirlein said the district would need to work harder to disseminate information to the public so it is better informed.

“We apparently did a poor job in getting the facts out there to the members of the community and the district. We learned a good leason, and I feel we can do better this time,” Beirlein said.

According to Sira, who is a captain for the Gloversville Police Department, he received more than 300 signatures for another attempt at the straw poll.

Meanwhile, Mayfield Board of Education President Ernie Clapper said the districts plan to share the superintendent’s position to save money. Currently, Debra M. Lynker is serving as Northville’s interim superintendent. Mayfield Superintendent Paul Williamsen is retiring in June.

Beirlein said the districts have to make a decision if they want to share a superintendent because the budget vote is coming in May. The two boards reached a consensus on sharing a superintendent, but no official vote has been taken yet.

The two districts also may share another administrative post, head of the Committee on Special Education.

Recent budget crunches are prompting some northern Adirondack school districts to consider sharing services as well. The Saranac Lake and Lake Placid school boards have said they’ll look into merging the districts, and the St. Regis Falls and Brushton-Moira districts share a superintendent.


Arthur Cleveland is a reporter for the Enterprise’s sister paper in Gloversville, the Leader-Herald.