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HCS and MCS to begin merger discussions next week

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HAMMOND – It’s back to the drawing board for the Hammond and Morristown as both school boards will discuss their futures at a work session next week.

At the joint session, board members will discuss the possible benefits and pitfalls of several cost-saving measures: a full merger that would see the two districts becoming one, larger district; increasing the number of shared services they offer; and having one superintendent’s office for both districts.

The discussion of merging the two districts is not new. The schools considered merging in the past, but the idea was met with little support on both sides.

The group will use discussion topics drafted by the state School Boards Association as a guide during merger discussions. Topics for both schools include:

n Gap elimination adjustments

n Unpredictable and inequitable foundation aid allocations

n Tax levy caps

n Lack of mandate reliefs

n Increasing health care costs

n Unsustainable employee contracts

If the school boards decide to move forward with a merger, two public votes are required: an advisory referendum and a final vote.

But passing the merger is the just first step, according to the presentation from the state association.

The actual merger would require school board elections, hiring an attorney and superintendent, drafting policies, developing programs and curriculum, business functions, staff assignments, contracts, building use policies, a name, mascot, school colors and ironing out transportation.

Hammond Interim Superintendent Randy C. Richards has said that if the board considers a merger there will be costs, including hiring consultants to streamline the process.

“This demands a lot of serious thought,” Mr. Richards said at Hammond’s October meeting.

Both districts have said merging is not a necessary this year.

The school boards will meet from 7 to 9 p.m. Nov. 19 at Hammond Central School.

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