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Two more Chautauqua County school districts are considering a merger.

The Sherman and Ripley central school districts have agreed to study the concept. Both boards held special meetings this week to discuss the proposal with residents, and large crowds turned out for each session.

Sherman Superintendent Thomas Shannon said the overwhelming majority of residents in both cases agreed they want to move ahead with the merger study.

"At this point, our board will be passing a resolution asking the state for an efficiency grant to do a merger study with Ripley, and the Ripley board will approve a similar resolution," Shannon said.

He expects the study to move quickly because both districts have recently looked into mergers, though not with each other.

"Sherman did a merger study a year ago with the Clymer district, and Ripley did an annexation study with Westfield," Shannon said. "So the data we have from those studies is pretty current and can be updated rather quickly. We're looking for a quick study through the month of May."

A committee of 20 to 25 residents from both communities will be formed to study merger issues.

"That will be broken down into four subcommittees to look into facilities, academic programs, transportation and financial aspects," Shannon said. "We hope the groups would be able to report back to the communities in the first week in June."

A tentative date for a straw vote is June 12. If results of that referendum are positive in both districts, the districts will petition the state for a binding referendum in mid-July.

Ripley voters earlier rejected an annexation plan with Westfield, and Sherman and Clymer turned down a merger proposal. The latest study comes on the heels of the first school merger in the county in 40 years, as Chautauqua and Mayville combine to form the Chautauqua Lake Central School District.

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