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Oppenheim-Ephratah and St. Johnsville schools continue becoming one

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Albany/HV: Oppenheim-Ephratah and St. Johnsville schools continue becoming one
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It's been a little over a month since a vote was passed to merge the Oppenheim-Ephratah and St. Johnsville school districts. Residents were back at the polls Tuesday, this time to vote on how the newly formed district will be shaped. But as YNN's Maria Valvanis explains, it's going to take a little help from everyone to make the merger a success.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, N.Y. -- Dan Russom, Oppenheim-Ephratah Superintendent of Schools, said, “The St. Johnsville and Oppenheim people are all one, we're all one district and that's what we're focusing on, making it the best district we can.”

Residents hit the polls Tuesday for the first time since approving the merger.

“The voters will be deciding on the number of school board members and the terms,” said Laura Campione-Lawrence, St. Johnsville Superintendent of Schools.

It's the first of a few matters residents will vote on, to help shape the new district. And with the merger less than six months away, school officials are working daily to make the transition smooth.

“A lot to do in a short period of time. We've had tech meeting, special ed meeting, yesterday we had orientation for all staff,” said Campione-Lawrence.

Russom said, “We're starting to put together a proposed budget to at least have it started for the new board, thae the new board and new superintendent can put the final touches on that.”

But it's not just district officials that have their work cut out for them, but students will also play a role in making the two districts one.

Selected students from both schools and art teachers will meet Friday to talk about a potential school mascot, school colors and even a school nickname.

“I thought we weren't going to have any control and it was just going to happen in front of us. I'm really happy we're going to be able to voice ourselves,” said Kelsey Lovett, St. Johnsville student.

“I think it gives them a little ownership,’ cause up until now, they haven't had any say, it's been all the adults in the community and they've had no real voice,” said Sara Thibodeau, St. Johnsville art teacher.

The adults will head back to the polls March 19th to vote for board members. The board will then appoint a superintendent and propose a budget to be voted on by residents May 2nd.

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