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Gouverneur rejects merger with Hermon-DeKalb

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The Gouverneur Central School District Board of Education has turned down a request from Hermon-DeKalb Central School to consider a merger study or shared services.

“For right now, it’s rejected,” Gouverneur Superintendent Lauren F. French said. “There’s no mechanism in place that addresses the needs of a school with an enrollment of 1,600 and a school of 400.”

Last spring, Hermon-DeKalb contacted all of the schools surrounding it about exploring mergers or shared services.

“We’re looking at everything,” Hermon-DeKalb Superintendent Ann M. Adams said.

Hermon-DeKalb is among other districts in the north country facing financial difficulties that have forced program and staffing cuts.

Hermon-DeKalb, Heuvelton and Morristown central school districts conducted a $30,000 feasibility study into cost savings that might result from the three districts creating a regional high school. However, there is no state legislation allowing a regional high school, so the districts moved on.

Hermon-DeKalb and Gouverneur had informal talks that culminated in the Gouverneur board’s decision to drop the idea of any shared services.

“It just was not advantageous to move forward,” Mrs. French said. “It could always be brought up in the future.”

For now, the board thought there were too many difficulties posed by disparities in the tax rate and the size that a combined district would encompass.

“Distance was a major concern,” Mrs. French said. “I don’t think we could tackle those logistics.”

Hermon-DeKalb will continue looking at its options with a community committee, Ms. Adams said.

“It’s back to the drawing board,” she said.

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