Updated 08/08/2012 09:32 PM
Two districts combine fall sports teams amid budget restraints
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ST. JOHNSVILLE, N.Y. -- Students in two Fulton County school districts are getting ready to kick off the new school year on a unified team, all due to budget restraints.
Starting next week, the fall sports program at St. Johnsville Central School District will grow as students from Oppenheim-Ephratah Central School District join the soccer teams without any cost to them.
This comes after the O-E community defeated the board's budget proposal twice this year and the district is now faced with a contingency budget. Unable to raise the tax levy, Oppenheim-Ephratah would have had to cut their fall sports, especially with so few students in the program.
As a result, both school boards agreed to come together for this season and once the sport is over, each will evaluate the success of the unified season.
Wednesday night, families came to make sure all the proper forms were filled out for the upcoming year. Some players we spoke with say the union has only made their experience better.
Oppenheim-Ephratah student Brianna Miller said, "I'd rather be on a conjoined team because there are more options to do, play with different people."
Her teammate, Leann Knapp of St. Johnsville, agreed. She admitted that having more members would be beneficial.
"We've had to cancel games and stuff. It's just more...better with more people," Knapp said.
A complete merger of the districts is still a possibility. In a vote last winter, St. Johnsville residents overwhelmingly passed the proposal, but Oppenheim-Ephratah residents voted against it.
It could come back on the table this winter if O-E residents petition the state for a revote. If the request is granted and the vote goes through, the districts would be combined in 2013.