Voters to decide on school merger

On Tuesday, voters in the Mayfield and Northville school districts will decide whether the two districts should merge into one.

Polling places will be open from noon to 8 p.m. at Mayfield High School and Northville Central School.

In a straw vote in September 2012 to pursue the merger idea further, Mayfield residents approved the idea, but Northville residents voted against it.

In June, however, Northville district residents voted 307-199 in another straw poll to allow a proposal to merge with the Mayfield district to move forward and go to a binding public vote.

Ernest Clapper, Mayfield Board of Education president, said he has not heard a lot of discussions regarding the merger, but he said he knows there are people for and against it.

“Some people [are] very positive and some people [are] very opposed to [the merger],” Clapper said.

When asked by The Leader-Herald Friday, Sheldon Ginter, Northville Board of Education president, said he has heard discussions both for and against the merger in Northville.

“There is not really any way you can really tell at this particular point in time. It could go either way,” Ginter said of Tuesday’s vote.

Ginter said while he has heard parents come out in favor of the plan, he has heard concerns regarding the merger.

Concerns have been raised by some district residents about the loss of identity for the area and the affect on taxes.

If both districts approve the merger, the districts will merge and elect a new board of education for the combined school district. Classes would start for the new district in September.

If the vote in either district goes down, both districts would be unable to discuss a merger with any district for one year, Ginter said.

According to a study of the merger proposal, if the districts merge, taxes could increase in Northville and drop in Mayfield.

The 2013-14 tax bill for a home with a true value of $100,000 would be $1,664 in Mayfield and $1,118 in Northville. If the districts were to merge and follow the suggestions of the feasibility study, the estimated school tax bill would be $1,245 for that property.

Officials from the districts have said the merger could bring back programs that have been cut over the last several years.

The merger would allow for full-time psychologists and social workers, optimal class sizes, additional electives, more instructional technology and fine-arts opportunities, according to the study. Incentive aid from the state would be given to the combined district for the next 14 years.

Ginter said students from the two districts’ elementary schools would stay where they are, but middle school students in the combined district would go to Northville, while high school students would attend Mayfield.

Ginter also said students, at most, would be on a school bus for one hour.