Officials, residents discuss merger of Mayfield and Northville school districts

NORTHVILLE – Residents of the Northville Central School District filled the school’s auditorium Tuesday night to discuss the upcoming straw vote and details of the proposed merger of the Northville and Mayfield school districts.

Northville residents rejected an advisory referendum, or straw vote, on the merger in September. Voters in Mayfield passed the referendum, but the support of residents in both districts was required to bring the merger proposal forward to a binding vote.

However, due to petitions from the community, Northville has scheduled another straw vote on the merger for June 25.

Northville Interim Superintendent Debra Lynker spoke to the crowd at the public hearing about some of the goals of the vote.

Lynker said a vote for the merger in the straw vote would merely be a vote to look more closely at the details of the proposal.

“[Approval of the merger in the straw vote] gives the board members time to meet with the consultants and go over the data, to look at it and study it to see if it still reflects the current situation, because much of this data is two years old,” Lynker said.

A binding vote would not occur until October, she said.

Lynker said the current plan would bring the Mayfield school district’s taxes in line with Northville’s. The state also would provide additional funds for the merged district.

“Some of the merger aid money will go to levying the taxes,” Lynker said.

People opposed to the merger – many concerned about the effect on taxes – spoke during the meeting Tuesday.

Joe Bayne, a resident of Northville, said he saw a similar situation when schools in Scotchtown, Orange County, merged with other local schools in the 1970s.

“We were taxed right out of there,” Bayne said.

Bayne said the district went from two schools to five schools, and the size cost taxpayers more money.

“A small school district is a good school district,” Bayne said.

Lynker said the district would still have fewer than 1,500 students.

Norman Richardson, a Northville resident, said he and his neighbors feel the Mayfield school district and Northville’s teachers would be the groups that truly benefit from the merger.

Richardson also said they do not trust the state education system.

“No matter what board is in charge, I don’t care who, it seems the best laid plans come to a flop,” Richardson said.

Richardson said he does not trust the state to come through with the aid money for the merger, adding the federal government and state are backing out of many programs.

Lynker said while that has happened for other programs, the state would not back out of this due to the fact it is pushing mergers.

“There has never been a time when the state has reneged,” Lynker said.