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Dr. Rick Timbs Fact Check On Ilion-Mohawk Merger

Kristine Bellino, WIBX

Dr. Rick Timbs is executive director of the Statewide School Finance Consortium and an expert on school funding and mergers. He has periodically joined WIBX First News with Keeler in the Morning to discuss the upcoming merger vote for the Ilion and Mohawk school districts.

With all the information being circulated, we asked Dr. Timbs to do a fact check on the pro and con information that is being talked about in the community.

For starters, Ilion and Mohawk are not alone, in fact there are between 60 to 200 school districts face fiscal insolvency, he says.

Why?

Because unfunded mandates, including new testing standards have put a financial burden on districts across New York. Meanwhile, the state has been freezing or reducing school-aid funding for districts.

The purpose of the merger is to save money:

The purpose of this merger is about survival for kids. They are designed to provide a better educational system for the students, not necessarily to save money, according to Dr. Timbs.

The Remington School will be mothballed and possibly rented:

Likely true, but Dr. Timbs says that is probably going to happen anyway, even without a merger…because if the districts don’t merge, the burden of maintaining so many buildings will fall solely on the district, Timbs says.

The merger and financial concerns could be averted by sharing staff to save money – librarians, etc. :

Dr. Timbs says it would save money but not enough to make a difference. The two districts together have lost $8 million dollars in state aid over the last three years. Voters in each district should expect double digit tax increases each year for the next decade if they don’t merge (over course exceeding the two percent hike would need to be approved by voters – but if they don’t approve, the district would be short financially).

Dr. Timbs Segment 1:

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Dr. Timbs Segment 2:

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