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Thu., Jul. 31
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Potsdam student representative sees merger as a positive

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POTSDAM - The student representative from Potsdam High School on a school consolidation committee said that while he has “mixed feelings” about a possible merger with neighboring Canton Central he does think it would benefit students currently attending the two schools.

William R. Sokol, who graduated from Potsdam High School last month, said from what he’s seen a merger would lead to increased opportunities for students.

“I think the chance for more opportunities for students is there in a merged district,” he said.

And while a mascot for the new school has not yet been decided, Mr. Sokol said talks about what to call the teams and killing old sporting rivalries aren’t really as big an issue as some people would like to believe.

“People talk about rivalries and things like that, but I don’t really think that is an issue,” he said.

Mr. Sokol said he’s now a high school graduate and doesn’t have any younger brothers or sisters who would be impacted by the merger, but he said he doesn’t think either situation would change the way he thinks about a perspective merger between the two neighboring districts.

When asked if he thinks he views would be different if he was impacted by the merger, he said he wasn’t sure. “It’s hard to say, but I don’t think so. As I said before, there would be more opportunities for students.”

Mr. Sokol was one of 14 representatives from the Potsdam Central School District who formed a committee with 14 representatives from the Canton Central School District to form a 28-member joint advisory committee.

The committee began meeting in November of 2013 and met several times to compile information for a study completed by the Western New York Educational Service Council. The final study, which was presented last month, recommended that both districts move forward with the merger process.

Mr. Sokol said serving on the committee was a lot of work, but it was something he was glad to be a part of.

“It was pretty involved,” he said. “I felt like, from my perspective, they asked us our opinions and they took those into account. I can’t say they didn’t already want to do it, but it seems like they did listen to what we had to say.”

Both boards of education are expected to vote this week on whether to move forward with the merger effort.

The Potsdam school board will meet Tuesday night with Canton’s board meeting on Thursday.

Should both boards vote to move forward, a preliminary referendum will be held in October, with a final, binding referendum tentatively scheduled for Dec. 16.

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