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Potsdam, Canton school boards may vote on merger next month

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POTSDAM - While the original time line didn’t have the Potsdam or Canton boards of education voting on whether to move forward with the merger until October, those votes may now be coming sooner than originally anticipated.

When the two boards meet next Thursday in Canton, Potsdam Central School Superintendent Patrick H. Brady said the district’s consultants, Western New York Educational Service Council, will present the final copy of their merger study report, which he noted has already been approved by the state education department.

Following that presentation, Mr. Brady said the board will then discuss the time line associated with moving forward with the merger process. The intent behind that conversation, he said, would be to make sure superintendents weren’t wasting their time with presentations on a vote that might never take place.

If both boards agree, they will each vote on whether to move forward with the merger next month at one of their July meetings.

Both the straw vote and final referendum would still be held as planned.

According to the project’s current time line, the straw vote would be held on Oct. 2 with the final, binding referendum to be held on Dec. 16.

“We feel there is a need to educate the public further,” Mr. Brady said, adding both he and Canton Central School Superintendent William A. Gregory would spend the time between that July meeting and the first vote attending community meetings and holding informational meetings across their respective districts.

Along those lines, Mr. Brady said a fourth newsletter with information about the merger will be mailed out soon.

“It will be in the public’s hands before the 19th,” Mr. Brady said.

In order for the merger to occur, both boards of education must agree to it and then both communities must vote in support of it during the advisory referendum and final vote.

During the second referendum, voters will also be deciding on the number of board members, the length of their terms and a provision to stagger the lengths of each member’s first term.

Should the merger clear these hurdles, potential board of education candidates could begin circulating petitions in January, with an election for board members to be held in February.

The new district would then officially begin operating on July 1, 2015.

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