Merger of districts best for students

As a taxpayer of the Northville Central School District, I feel obligated to address the proposed merger of the Northville Central School and Mayfield Central School districts.

In my opinion, too many people are looking at this issue on an emotional level – i.e. no more Northville Falcons, no more varsity games at Northville, no more high school concerts and musicals at Northville. Not being a native of Northville, I feel very safe in stepping back from the emotional side of the issue to focus on the practical matters that the voters of the two districts are facing.

A merger will allow the Northville students to experience restoration of programs and services that have been cut or eroded through budgetary constraints. These programs and services include some athletic teams, some art and music and the services of occupational and speech therapists. Though not essential to the basic educational program, these are essential to the overall well- rounded development of students. The more experiences they have in high school, the more likely they are to succeed in college and in the work force.

Another major issue is that of transportation. I have heard many people express concerns about busing students the 10 miles between the two existing facilities. There are many students in this state who are bused greater distances. It is likely that many people who are reading this letter survived school bus transportation of this magnitude many years ago.

As for money matters, the merger incentive aid and the increased building aid on new projects as well as on existing debt is a huge factor both districts must consider. Yes, residents in the Northville school district, your school tax bill will increase slightly in order to equalize your tax burden with comparably assessed Mayfield properties within the new district. Recent tight budgets in Northville have resulted in district residents enjoying the county’s lowest school tax rates while the student program suffered.

If the merger fails, taxes will not go down. Without a substantial increase in state aid, taxes will have to increase well above the imposed tax cap in order to restore cut programs and services affording our students the best possible educational experience.

Which brings me back to the true emotional issue, which is: what is best for students, not what is best for sports, musical and concert spectators.

Remember to vote Jan. 7.