Chenango Forks and Chenango Valley school districts split on proposed merger

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December 4, 2013

There will be no merger between the Chenango Forks and Chenango Valley school districts.  Matt Martin reports that the district in Chenango Forks may now ask for a tax hike to balance their budget.

The vote was only a straw poll.  Both districts had to approve the merger before it could move to a binding vote.  Chenango Valley voted to merge but last night the residents of Chenango Forks killed the proposal before it could move forward. 

And it was a resounding no.  2015 people voted against the merger and only 355 who voted for it.  A tax increase was part of the proposal. 

Joe Peck, the superintendent of the Chenango Forks school district, thinks the relatively high turnout is a good sign.  But he is hoping that they voted no to the merger and not to higher taxes. 

“I think our first and major priority is to look at the budget for 14/15 and get out to the public what exactly we need from them.”

And what he needs from them is more money.  According to Peck, for the district to stay in the black, taxes will have to go up.  He says a combined school district might have made that a harder sell.

“But instead of putting the money into a merged district that they want to put it into Chenango Forks and keep Chenango Forks what it was.  That is my hope.”

Peck will need at least a 60% voter approval rate to secure an increased tax rate.  Something that he admits will be difficult. 

Residents of Tioga County had a similar vote last night to merge the Spencer Van Etten and Candor school districts.  It was also voted down.