by Bill Keeler

My wife and I attended the meet the candidates night last week at Herkimer County Community College and we both walked away with a better understanding of who we feel will be best suited for the job.  One thing was was evident, is that this board is going to have to work much harder than any board that comes after it because they're set with the task of having to create policy from scratch.

One school official said that these board members will be living this job for the first several months with meetings expected three to five days a week until at least July.

This is going to be a very tough job for this first board and there will be a lot of pressure on these first members.

19 of the 21 board members attended the forum and each had the opportunity to speak out on various issues.  One of the more interesting questions asked from the floor was, "How did you vote personally at the previous merger votes?"

You might recall that this past merger vote for Ilion and Mohawk was the third proposal for the Valley.  The first vote was for an Ilion-Mohawk-Herkimer-Frankfort four-school merger.  Each district, with the exception of Frankfort passed that vote.  The second was the Ilion-Herkimer-Mohawk three school merge and Herkimer voted that merger down.  The most recent, of course, was the Ilion-Mohawk merger vote which obviously passed.

So, how did the candidates vote?

The majority of the board candidates voted four all three mergers.  The list below includes the five candidates who voted against one or more of the previous votes.

-------------------------4 School           3 School         2 School

Lori Sementilli                   NO                    NO                 NO

Robert Berger                  NO                    NO                 NO

Fred Schell                       NO                    NO                  CONCERNED

Orlo Burch                        NO                    NO                 YES

Deborah Schoff                NO                     YES               YES


Here's a tip for you if you're voting today:  You don't have to vote for seven members.  Your vote will be more valuable if you cast a vote only for the people you clearly want to win.  Your vote will be diluted, if for instance, you vote for five people that you really want to win and then you select two at random that you really aren't sure of.


No matter the outcome of today's vote, the people of Ilion and Mohawk will be working together to create a new opportunity for their kids.  One of the candidates said it best at the forum when he said,  "Ilion and Mohawk Schools will cease to exist on July 1st, from that point on we will be one."