Canton school board joins Potsdam in okaying merger referendum
Friday, July 11, 2014 - 11:37 am

By JIMMY LAWTON

CANTON -- Residents of Canton and Potsdam school districts will have the final say on possible merger.

Canton Board of Education unanimously agreed Thursday to let voters decide on a plan that would consolidate the districts.

Canton Superintendent Bill Gregory said there was a strong consensus among board members that voters should decide the future of their districts.

Potsdam’s school board approved the same resolution at a Tuesday meeting.

Gregory said a lengthy study showed clearly that a merger would deliver superior academic and extracurricular programs that would otherwise not be achieved by either district.

The study, paid for with state grants, showed a merger would allow the districts to provide more academic options for students and delay and prevent insolvency for the districts in the near future.

Gregory expects a series of public meetings will be held at the school to help educate the public regarding the merger.

He said the school will likely give presentations to community organizations as well.

“I think there is a mistaken notion that the status quo is good enough and even if you accept that the status quo is good enough right now, neither district will be able to maintain it in the near future,” he said.

Gregory says that the study showed more educational opportunities will result from the merger at a lower cost to taxpayers.

Gregory said the biggest hurtle for voters will be the emotional ties they have for the district.

Gregory said his goal is to ensure those going to the polls can make an informed decision when they cast their ballots.

Potsdam superintendent Pat Brady is on a similar mission. “Though there are varying opinions on the board as there are in the community, the board of Education recognized that it is important that the public have the opportunity to vote on this important issue," Brady said in an emailed statement. "Now it will be important over the next few months to provide further information to both communities so people can make an informed decision about the future of our schools."

He is encouraging community members to visit http://www.potsdam.k12.ny.us/ to access the feasibility study and the variety of other information available in regard to the merger.

Brady said community members may also call him directly at 265-2000 x733 for more information.

A straw poll vote will be held in October. If that vote favors a merger, the binding referendum would be on Dec. 16, 2014 at the same time and location.