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Potsdam, Canton school boards may vote on merger next month

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POTSDAM — The Canton and Potsdam boards of education could vote earlier than expected — as soon as next month — on whether to move forward with merging their school districts.

A decision on that key step in the merger had not been expected until October, but those votes may now be coming sooner than originally anticipated.

When the two boards meet next Thursday in Canton, the districts’ consultants, Western New York Educational Service Council, will present the final copy of its merger study report, which already has been approved by the state Education Department, Potsdam Superintendent Patrick H. Brady said.

The boards then will discuss the time line for deciding on the merger process, and both could vote to move forward in July, according to Mr. Brady.

Both a straw poll and a final referendum still would be held as planned.

According to the project’s current time line, the straw vote would be Oct. 2 and the final, binding referendum held on Dec. 16.

Both school boards and both communities would have to approve a merger.

“We feel there is a need to educate the public further,” Mr. Brady said.

During the final referendum, voters also would decide on the number of members of the combined school board, the length of their terms and a provision to stagger the lengths of each member’s first term.

Should the merger clear these hurdles, potential Board of Education candidates could begin circulating petitions in January.

An election for board members would be held in February.

The new district would then officially begin operating on July 1, 2015.

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