Issues should be addressed before merger

I am pleased the Northville and Mayfield school boards are considering another straw vote on merging the districts. I agree with Sheldon Ginter that Northville residents voted against the merger based upon inaccurate information offered by a few residents.

That said, I believe there are at least two other issues that should be addressed.

First, as a result of the districts’ population difference, heavily in Mayfield’s favor, the new school board membership should be apportioned for the first 10 years or so based on the population of the communities. This mandated school board mix would assure that both communities are represented until philosophical differences, if any, are resolved over time.

Second, there is a significant difference in the property taxes paid by Mayfield and Northville residents, with Mayfield taxes being much higher. The merger proposal known as “option 2” suggested a significant reduction of the Mayfield tax in the first year while holding Northville’s tax at current levels until the levies equalize.

Perhaps a tax-equalization schedule of longer duration could be devised that would offer financial incentives to residents of both communities.

Substantial financial, organization and perhaps structural change to both school districts is inevitable with or without a merger.

The question that needs to be asked is: Will change manage the districts or will the districts manage the change?

Most people do not like change. But rather than focusing on issues to preclude merger of the districts, as some have done, we must focus on what is best in the long term for the education of children. It is impossible to anticipate all the pitfalls involved in merging, and certainly many will arise. Now, with the state offering financial incentives, is the time to move forward with this beneficial merger.



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