Residents were out once again to vote yes or no for a merger that was defeated last year.
But, tonight taxpayers of Oppenheim- Ephratah CSD voted 385 YES, to 366 NO, to merge with St. Johnsville CSD.
Last year, taxpayers of St. Johnsville overwhelmingly approved to merge with Oppenheim- Ephratah. St. Johnsville residents did not participate in Tuesday's referendum as a majority of its voters already approved the merger proposal last December.
But, it was a different story for Oppenheim last year. By 58 votes they turned down the proposal. However, today some are hoped to change that.
"It will be a toss-up. If it was close the last time, then it will be close again," said voter Ken Decker.
The proposal for a school merger between St. Johnsville and Oppenheim- Ephratah Central School Districts was defeated last year.
But, after a district resident petitioned to the New York State Education Department for a second vote, residents in Oppenheim are out once again.
"There isn't that much money in the community to support everything the kids need. I think it's better off for St. Johnsville and Oppenheim," said voter Elden Cheney.
"I voted for it. The state will eventually come in and make them if the merge doesn't go through," said Decker.
Oppenheim-Ephratah's Superintendent Dan Russom says the merger is needed because it's a small district to begin with and they are struggling financially.
Mr. Russom says they have been cutting staff in the past two years and forced some teachers to become part-time.
"It will offer more educational opportunities for children that we would never be able to offer if we stay single. I think it will offer other opportunities like extra-curricular and athletic opportunities that we wouldn't be able to provide if we were by ourselves," said Russom.
The school has already merged various sports programs with St. Johnsville and they even share some teachers between the two schools.
Superintendent Russom says both schools are expected to receive a total of $14 million in state aid over 14 years.
But, Mary Mosher says going through with the merger is a big mistake. She says the school administrators are looking out for themselves and not the students.
"We have brought up ideas on how to save money. They just don't care to investigate that," said Mosher.
In January, residents in both districts will be asked to vote in additional referendums to decide how many members should be on the new Board of Education (5, 7 or 9) and how long the members should serve per term (3, 4 or 5 years).
Then, residents of the new merged district will vote for board candidates and later on the new district's final budget.
The new district will begin operation on July 1, 2013.