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Oct 17, 2012 9:41 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Tuckahoe And Southampton School Districts Seek Merger Study

Oct 17, 2012 12:17 PM

The Tuckahoe and Southampton school districts on Wednesday said they will request proposals from firms interested in conducting a reorganization feasibility study, which would explore the advantages of a merger of the two districts.

According to a press release sent out on Wednesday morning by the Tuckahoe School District, the boards of both districts “believe the time has come to explore, through a comprehensive and objective study, the academic and financial outcomes of a complete merger of the two districts.”

Tuckahoe School Superintendent Chris Dyer did not return calls seeking comment on Wednesday morning.

The study would be conducted in concert with each school community, district superintendents and the State Education Department. According to an email to staff members and media on Wednesday, Mr. Dyer said Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services District Superintendent Dean Lucera will also be responsible for reviewing the feasibility study.

Officials said the feasibility study contract should be awarded as early as November, and the selected consultant would begin work immediately, with a tentative completion date of January 2013.

The consultant would look at both the schools’ governance, finances, personnel, student enrollment, transportation and facilities, programs, and co-curricular offerings, among other things.

The decision to seek a feasibility study comes after informal discussions between the two school districts about the costs of high school tuition that Tuckahoe currently pays to Southampton and Westhampton Beach for students who attend high school. Students currently can choose to matriculate to either high school, and Tuckahoe pays the cost of tuition directly to the host school district.

Last school year, Tuckahoe was paying tuition for 32 students attending Westhampton Beach High School and 108 students at Southampton High School. Tuckahoe spent approximately $22,000 for each student who attended Southampton High School, and $76,000 for a special needs student. In contrast, tuition for a single student at Westhampton Beach High School was approximately $19,000, and $61,000 for a special needs student.

In June, Mr. Dyer said the district faces a difficult situation at the end of the current school year: The current eighth grade class includes about 44 students—compared to last year’s eighth grade class of 27. That means tuition costs are expected to skyrocket when those students move on to high school at the end of 2012-13. Increasing the challenge is the state’s 2-percent tax levy cap, which will not make allowances for the increase in tuition costs due to the size of the class.

Generally, there has been debate in the district over how much it has been paying for tuition, especially since the district’s tax rate continues to increase and the state tax levy cap was enacted, forcing school districts to cut staff and programs across the state.

“We are pursuing the feasibility study to maintain continuous improvement in our academic programs at a similar or reduced cost to our taxpayers,” Mr. Dyer said in an email.

Many complaints from district taxpayers stem from the significant difference in property tax bills in Southampton and Tuckahoe. Tuckahoe School District officials said the estimated tax rate for this school year is $7.22 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, meaning a resident’s home assessed at the new estimated average district value of $653,703 for 2012-13 can expect to pay $4,723 in school taxes this year. Meanwhile in Southampton, the tax rate is expected to be $2.35 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, meaning a taxpayer whose home is assessed at $1 million can expect to pay about $2,350 in school property taxes this year—less than half, despite the higher assessed value.

All eyes will be on the school districts in the coming months, as students, parents, teachers and taxpayers await the study’s results. Tuckahoe School officials said they will keep everyone in the loop.

“Members of both school communities will be kept fully informed as to the progress of the study and both school communities will be invited to information meetings,” the release said. A presentation of the study’s findings is slated for January 15.

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An absolutely awful idea for high school students. Westhampton Beach already charges Tuckahoe a much lower rate per student than Southampton and Westhampton outperforms Southampton academically.

"The districts have had a close relationship for decades, since Tuckahoe School District does not have a high school of its own and therefore sends most of its older students to Southampton High School. " This statement is a complete falsehood. This year and last more students went to Westhampton ...more
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Oct 17, 12 12:50 PM
1 member liked this comment

For the most part, the Tuckahoe School Board has been dominated by the most educationally regressive influence prone to irrational and low quality decision making. And it pervades the whole Tuckahoe culture, quality, and results, top to bottom.

I agree that that there is no reason Tuckahoe should limit consolidation options to Southampton HS, a proven bastion of educational mediocrity, like Tuckahoe. It will be a merger of two laggards, an unconscionable prospect.

Westhampton ...more
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Oct 17, 12 11:41 PM
If you want to send you child to Pierson in Sag Harbor you should spell it correctly! But historically are the children of Tuckahoe to Good for the rest of us! Wouldn't it be slumming to come to Sag Harbor.
By J. Totta (106), Sag Harbor on Oct 18, 12 7:01 AM
Very well said, Observant
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Oct 18, 12 8:21 AM
While your argument is valid as to the economics and spending of taxpayer money, I dont' agree that Tuckahoe is a rotten district. I think it has demographic changes in the last few years and since has had to learn how to manage these changes. The teachers and administration are pretty awesome. If you think this is rotten, go take a trip and tour some really horrible districts around our state. This is not one of them. It is too bad that SH is charging so much more than WH and in some ways as you ...more
By Infoseeker (280), Hampton Bays on Oct 18, 12 8:25 AM
Infoseeker, proximity has nothing to do with which school is a better choice. All over America kids travel long distances to go to school. It is a question of economy and quality. Westhampton charges less, always has, and outperforms SH academically by a fairly large margin. My child now goes to Westhampton. My wife and I attended both orientations. Westhampton is completely dedicated to preparing kids for college where as SH's focus was simply on getting them to graduate high school.

Tuckahoe ...more
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Oct 18, 12 8:50 AM

"It is too bad that SH is charging so much more than WH and in some ways as you say is inferior to some of the educational goals at WH. Why do you think that is?"

My analysis of the problem: The rot begins at the top. The dominant figure in the School Board has been Bob Grisnik, an entrenched academic dinosaur at Tuckahoe for at least 27 years who has presided over two decades of academic decline and horrendous community turmoil. He is the living symbol of the necessity for term limits.

Tuckahoe ...more
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Oct 18, 12 10:48 AM
Glass houses J. Totta! I'm guessing you mean

"...are the children of Tuckahoe too good for the rest of us?"
By RealLocal (76), Bridgehampton on Oct 18, 12 10:51 AM
true physical pain to read the $7.35/1000 vs $2.35/1000 cost vs assement ratios ... 3 times the rate ??! whats the underlying issue .. ill ask on 27east first because i think these comment baords are of great value & i am very sure that several of the 'high # commenters' are as knowledgeable as anyone on the east end ..
thank you in advance
By david h (405), southampton on Oct 17, 12 1:08 PM

DH, one of the reasons is the traditional ineffectiveness of the Tuckahoe school board to defend for decades its tax revenue base from the deadly encroachment of excessively low tax paying world class golf courses that are hardly of benefit to its resident taxpayers.

Unlike any other hamlet on the East End, we have four world class famous golf courses who have been decimating the Tuckahoe tax revenues. These luxury private golf courses pay much less Tuckahoe taxes than Tuckahoe homeowners, ...more
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Oct 18, 12 12:01 AM
[7.22/1000 ] mistyped it ..drats i used up my valualble 2nd posting on a predictable mistype .. too many desk items block me from the keypad .. ah, sorry no excuses, i just cant type!
By david h (405), southampton on Oct 17, 12 1:10 PM
Hampton Bays, Flanders,Riverside and Northampton pay close to and over $12 per thousand of assessed value. School funding needs some serious rethinking...
By Brad (28), Northampton on Oct 17, 12 8:15 PM
The clock is ticking it's time police forces, school distrcts, and townships put their talents and knowledge together. The pension and benefit costs are unsustainable and need too be consolidated immediately. We don't need 10 differant school districts and ten differant police depts on the East End it is just ego plain and simple.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Oct 17, 12 9:19 PM
2 members liked this comment
There is more misinformation on this page that any single person could ever address making you all exhibit A in the explanation of why a feasibility study is long overdue. "You have nothing to fear but fear itself".
Oct 19, 12 4:34 PM appended by stoneground11968
On my best day I wouldn't have the patience to help you Observant, but it makes sense you felt singled out. Looking forward to outcome of the study. Knowledge is power.
By stoneground11968 (11), southampton on Oct 18, 12 4:34 PM

It would be helpful if you specified exactly what you think specifically is misinformation so we can get to your "truth".
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Oct 19, 12 1:12 PM

Just as I thought, an empty substance devoid stuffed shirt, intent only on supplying distractions to the real issues.
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Oct 19, 12 2:53 PM
Perhaps it is time to study this issue of consolidation, i.e., supplies, increase
student numbers per class, consolidate special needs students. We will
see more homes for sale if we do not address the school tax impacts.
By East Ender (64), Southampton on Oct 19, 12 12:23 PM
Public school remains the institution in this country that produces more leaders, notable athletes, ceos, scientists and the list is endless. If you want to make your own decisions and have more of a say in your child's education there is always private school. When it comes to public school, the ''public'' part mandates that the school operate with several different directives. You can't be for improving the quality of education and be against an effort that explores a possible way to execute ...more
By stoneground11968 (11), southampton on Oct 20, 12 6:14 AM
This merger is not about "better education" it is about saving money. Period.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Oct 20, 12 5:11 PM
Since when does spending more money equal a better education? Why do taxpayers have to be burdened with higher taxes and deal with outrageous demands from teachers? You want to lower taxes get rid of illegals in the school districts. It is the only reason any school in NY has to expand and no one wants to talk about it.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Oct 20, 12 6:16 PM
SHSD obviously wants to keep the high tuition students but in the long run would prefer to have the Tuckahoe School buildings to house the many kids that would come in even thouogh the tuition stops the space is there and ready to be used. WHB provides a better education so why is tuckahoe sending kids to SHSD? Parents need to step up and demand answers.
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Oct 20, 12 6:55 PM
Is there really a large disparity between the quality of eduaction at Southampton HS versus Westhampton Beach HS? I'll bet if you look at actual numbers, such as SAT scores, you won't see much difference! Maybe Tuckahoe should consider building its own High School.
By Walt (292), Southampton on Oct 20, 12 10:28 PM
Sorry Walt big difference on all levels of testing and WHB does it for less. SHSD spends more per student than any other school district except EHSD. Mattituck spends 1/2 as much with better results. People in Southampton don't notice the waste because all rich summer people foot most of the bills and the tax burden is very small compared to the rest of LI. So many overpaid under performiing people. Thanks god for unions.
By sandie (15), speonk on Oct 22, 12 1:18 PM
WESTHAMPTON WILL BE CHARGING MORE IN BEGINNING NEXT YEAR. Now, that you have the right information may I politely state that you are all the reason the study is necessary...to shut all you knowitalls up! You have no idea what you are talking about...not a one of you.

When you add that to the unbelievable tackiness and selfishness shown by mr cool surfer artist who doesn't want a sidewalk in front of the school because it will screw up his privet hedges you have one of the most ridiculous ...more
Oct 23, 12 5:59 AM appended by stoneground11968
besides, where do you expect everyone from king kullen to walk?
By stoneground11968 (11), southampton on Oct 23, 12 5:59 AM
NO, stonehedge, Southampton will only be charging less IF Tuckahoe gives them an exclusive and even then it is only a few bucks per kid. It is you who has no idea what you are talking about. Southampton has been fleecing Tuckahoe for years and now that more students are choosing the higher quality education of Westahmpton they fear losing their sugar daddy so they are holding our kids hostage for an exclusive. Those are the facts. Period.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Oct 23, 12 4:09 PM
Stoneground what are you talking about?
By sandie (15), speonk on Oct 23, 12 1:09 PM