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Dec 11, 2012 10:48 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Tuckahoe And Southampton School Boards Hire Firm For Merger Study, Agree On Exclusivity Deal

Dec 12, 2012 10:50 AM

Tuckahoe School Board members pushed forward this week with steps to drastically reduce spending and preserve its programs—a feat which has proven difficult in the past few years because of unfunded state mandates, lowered tax assessments and increasing tuition rates, officials said.

The Tuckahoe and Southampton school boards selected the SES Study Team LLC from Albany to conduct a merger feasibility study for the two districts, and officials from both districts agreed to start making plans for a one-year exclusivity deal between the two districts. As a result, Tuckahoe’s high school age students will go only to Southampton High School, which will lower tuition rates for Tuckahoe while the long-term study gets under way.

Following closed-door executive session meetings on Monday and Tuesday nights, the Tuckahoe and Southampton school boards, respectively, voted to enter into a contract with the Syracuse firm and approved the exclusive tuition deal.

On Tuesday, Southampton School Superintendent Dr. J. Richard Boyes said the SES Study Team was the better option for both districts. “Both administrations and board members reviewed the proposals independently and decided that SES offers the best proposal to complete this study,” he said.

In October, both Southampton and Tuckahoe put out requests for proposals to find a firm that could explore the feasibility of a merger of the two districts. The SES Study Team originally quoted a price of $73,975 for their services but reduced the number to $69,975 in light of the districts’ budget of $70,000, Tuckahoe School Business Official Keri Loughin said at a November 26 board meeting. The districts will split the cost.

The study will include several meetings with the school community. Tuckahoe will take $35,000 from savings on interest paid for tax anticipation notes and allocate the funds to pay for the study, meaning there would be no new spending for the study. Southampton will pay out of its general fund.

The districts received a second response to the RFP from the University of Rochester, which would have cost the district approximately $50,200 for a more research-based study and only three days of meetings with the school community. More meetings would have cost an additional $2,000 per meeting.

Tuckahoe School Superintendent Chris Dyer said the SES Study Team had exactly what the two school boards were looking for in a firm to lead the study. “The emphasis on open communication with the community, transparency to the study data, and the involvement of the community members were large influencers,” he said, noting that the Tuckahoe and Southampton district officials’ decision was guided by the State Department of Education and the Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services. “The personal matter in which SES communicated and answered our questions built trust and confidence that they would work well with our community.”

Over a period of several months, SES, which has completed six other similar reorganization feasibility studies, will look at both districts’ governance, finances, personnel, student enrollment, transportation and facilities, programs, and co-curricular offerings, and other issues within the school communities.

The state requires a merger feasibility study be completed before any consolidation is undertaken. Both involved district communities must then approve a merger in a referendum.

Consolidation and shared services have long been a topic between the two communities, especially in light of the state-mandated 2-percent tax levy cap, increasing financial pressures and other state mandates. Earlier this year, Southampton and Tuckahoe, along with several East End districts, filed a joint application with the Department of State for a $200,000 grant to finance an efficiency study, which would have looked at the possibility of merging all or some of the districts. The application was not approved by the state, and so Tuckahoe and Southampton decided to march on with their own study.

Since the results aren’t expected until next summer, Tuckahoe officials said they need to find a short-term solution to their financial woes—decreased tuition rates—or incur a $1 million deficit in the 2012-13 school year. Currently, graduating eighth-graders have the choice to attend either Southampton High School or Westhampton Beach High School. The choice between the two schools has become expensive—29 percent of the district’s annual budget is spent providing tuition for its high school students.

On Monday night, Tuckahoe School Board members agreed to go forward with plans to work out a one-year exclusivity deal with Southampton High School, which would lower tuition for students by 15 percent and by 25 percent for special needs students.

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And what about the exclusivity?
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Dec 11, 12 1:45 PM
Here we go lets spend 75,000 and waste another year and lose another million dollars while we wait for a report on the obvious. Merging Tuckahoe to Southampton will save millions and will remove a school board and administrators who we don't need. By Sept 2013 the two schools should be merged and ready to open under the Southampton District umbrella. We don't need to send 75,000 out the door when the two districts can have their accountants do this for a very small charge. These boards and administrators ...more
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Dec 11, 12 2:03 PM
Chief, do you ever think before you type? You cannot simply merge the schools immediately because you say so. The state mandates you study the issue and PROVE that it will be beneficial to ALL community members, including taxpayers and students. Please experiment with critical thought.
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Dec 11, 12 3:20 PM
1 member liked this comment
So spending $75,000 is a better way to go???????
By sandydog21 (195), Southampton on Dec 11, 12 3:51 PM
Business as usual hire a firm from Albany( Im sure recomended by Fred Thiele or some other political hack) to figure out the obvious. How about pay your accountant 10k and cross off all the employees and expenses that will be split with the Southampton School District. Nah lets waste more money and time for these highly intelligent administrators to figure out we have to merge districts. Spending 75k for a study is a crime!
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Dec 12, 12 12:18 AM
Can anyone here explain what "administrators" actually do? Could some already on the payroll in a teaching capacity do the same job for a small pay increase?
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Dec 12, 12 7:46 AM
The school is top heavy with administration. They split the Supertintendent/Principal into 2 positions. They have FOUR people in the business office and, because they refuse to be transparent with the community, they have had to pay enormous legal fees over the last few years.
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Dec 12, 12 8:57 AM
The board made a one year exclusive deal with Southampton so that they could avoid putting the issue to the voters. They talk about "communication" and "transparency" but they completely fail on both. They came to the community after the decision was already made. Successive boards have gone out of their way to destroy this school for the last 6 years. It appears they have finally succeeded.

By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Dec 12, 12 8:48 AM
1 member liked this comment
i would like to take this opportunity to thank all that were involved in throwing my daughters education down the drain, by forcing her to go to a inferior school. instead of coming to this decision at this point they could have waited for when the takeover (excuse me merger) takes place . we have been ripped off by southampton school district for so long whats the hurry for a decision like this that effects the children. now i have to find away to keep my daughter from going to shh ...more
By kmh (12), southampton on Dec 12, 12 10:56 AM
Whwen we went to SHS in the 70's, it was a far better school than WHB. What the hell happened?
By Walt (292), Southampton on Jan 4, 13 2:20 PM
Always the kids who suffer for the incompetency of these school boards, isn't it? Take a look at the Tuckahoe School website - they've got FOUR people in their business office! FOUR - I bet they each make at least $75 grand each plus benefits. They've got TWO gym teachers - again, no doubt each making at least $75 grand plus benefits. And isn't this the same school board that just two years ago wanted to spend their "surplus" building on campus housing for their superintendent? They spent at ...more
By witch hazel (224), tatooine on Dec 12, 12 2:11 PM

Another pompous and deceptive decision by this keystone cops Tuckahoe School Board. They purport that they want to be op0en and transparent about the process. This year, more parents sent their graduated 8th grade kids to Westhampton B4each HS than they dit to southampton, indicating a preference for superior all around education everyone knows about, and at cheaper tuition.

However, they limited the study to exclude Westhampton and idiotically informed residents that they got a lower ...more
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Dec 13, 12 4:09 AM
1 member liked this comment

Who's putting Tuckahoe parents down? Can you read? The bozos are the school board, who think the parents are fellow bozos.
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Dec 15, 12 1:32 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Dec 13, 12 4:09 AM
fairwind.....grow up
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Dec 13, 12 10:30 AM
1 member liked this comment
Southampton is the most inefficient school district on long island. They spend twice the LI average per student and get half the results. Money has been flowing into the black hole for years. The petty nonsense that goes on thereis a joke the amount of money spent on specialend is a joke compared to other districts. Please tell me how it cost 32k to educate a student in a public school and I use the word educate loosely here. You can go to Harvard for that but I doubt to many SHSD kids ever get ...more
By sandie (15), speonk on Dec 13, 12 1:05 PM
1 member liked this comment
Please go to any district and see who works in the business offices of the local school districts. That would be friends of teachers, relatives of school board members, and other unemployable losers. It's a joke and we wonder why we are broke and have poorly educated children.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Dec 13, 12 3:13 PM
I dare you. I challenge you. Please for the love of all that is divine, post some sort of proof of what you are saying. FOIL any school district throughout the town, or the county and back up what you have posted. Give us something that validates your almost scandalous claims. Don't throw it back at me, YOU make the claims, YOU sunstantiate it. I know wing nuts like you and I provide entertainment for Mr Shaw and company, but maybe he should require sources before one can make allegations. It is ...more
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Dec 16, 12 11:28 AM
Really are you so naive that you can't see the incestuous way we hire govt workers? Check the OTB higher ups or maybe the SCWA employees. As far as the districts goes I know two people that work in the Southampton business office of the school whose husbands got them the job. Maybe you just landed from Mars and can't see the pattern.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Dec 16, 12 7:18 PM
Thought I told you...."no cop outs". So refrain from speaking of SCWA, or the OTB (which no longer exists). I am asking YOU to provide proof of your allegations. You are unable to do so on this and other issues, therefore I feel quite comfortable in calling you a liar. And IF you do know "two people that work in the Southampton business office" how many others are employed there? Are you jealous? You need therapy Chief
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Dec 17, 12 11:44 AM
I gave you two examples. I can go on and on with the nonsense that goes on. Am I jealous? No I am disgusted that my taxes go up every year and it seems to be a blank check. Now we are starting to see schools like Tuckahoe that are basicalluy bankrupt, and we scratch our heads as to why. Keep spending and make believe everything is going well. I feel quite comfortable in calling you asleep, and delusional.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Dec 17, 12 3:10 PM
Still no response as to what the administrators actually do.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Dec 13, 12 4:44 PM
thanks because there is none. They are puppets and union hacks. Remember when they say it's for the children what that means is that its for their pockets.
By sandie (15), speonk on Dec 14, 12 12:53 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Truth Warrior (11), Southampton on Dec 19, 12 5:44 PM