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Aug 14, 2013 9:35 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Tuckahoe School Board Sets Timeline For Pending Merger With Southampton

Aug 14, 2013 10:13 AM

A schedule for a vote on a proposed merger between the Southampton and Tuckahoe school districts has been released this week, pending a favorable decision from the New York State Education Department.

State Education Commissioner John King is expected to approve or deny the application to pursue a merger by the end of the month. His approval would allow both districts to put the proposal to a vote.

The commissioner will base his decision on a financial and feasibility report that an independent company presented to him earlier this summer after collecting a year’s worth of information.

If the commissioner gives the go-ahead, the first step will be for each district’s school board to vote on the proposed merger at a regularly scheduled meeting. If either board fails to approve the proposal, the proposition will die immediately. If both boards approve it, the merger will go to a separate straw vote in each district on October 29, when taxpayers can decide whether they want to move forward.

There would then be a final vote, scheduled for December 5—a full community referendum, with the two districts voting together. If the merger is approved at that point, the Tuckahoe School District would become a part of the Southampton School District at the start of the 2014-2015 school year.

At a Tuckahoe School Board meeting on Monday night, board members heard from parents who remain upset that 31 students currently attending Westhampton Beach High School will not be allowed to finish their high school education where they started it if the merger goes through.

One parent, Linda Purrazzella, said that if Southampton was forcing Tuckahoe’s hand in not allowing high school students to graduate from Westhampton Beach, Tuckahoe should not have agreed to pursue the merger. She said she has filed an injunction for the State Education Department to dismiss Tuckahoe’s assurance to Southampton that its students would leave Westhampton Beach High School when the merger takes place.

“The issue is that we were given assurances,” said Ms. Purrazzella, whose son would have to change schools for his senior year. “The merger could be a good thing, but not when you are throwing away 20 students and adversely affecting them.”

Although board members sympathized with Ms. Purrazzella, they maintained that it was necessary for the board to agree to transferring the students in order to get moving on the merger study. Board President Bob Grisnik added that, in his mind, the issue is not dead, and that after the board votes, the district will resume talks with Southampton about letting the students stay.

Board member Daniel Crough agreed, and said the district fought hard for the rights of the Westhampton Beach students, but at the end of the day the district needed to move forward.

“Over the past three years, we have seen some very serious problems financially for Tuckahoe,” Dr. Crough said. “We have talked about consolidation that entire time, so this is not a new conversation. But as far as the students in Westhampton go, we had a chance to save money by sending kids solely to Southampton. Even then, because all of these things were transpiring, we understood that Tuckahoe could give all these assurances, but if there is a merger, the Tuckahoe board no longer has the power to guarantee anything.”

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Dan Crough was elected to represent the residents of the Tuckahoe school district- including the families whose children attend Westhampton Beach. Instead of rolling over at every single command from Southampton, perhaps he should begin doing so. As far as the past three years of "very serious" financial problems at Tuckahoe, when will the board take at least some responsibility for what has happened?

The fact remains that time and again Dan Crough told Westhampton Beach students and ...more
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Aug 14, 13 11:13 AM
There will be no rational and just solution to this community imbroglio until Westhampton is brought into the picture. What does the community have to lose if it examines rational alternatives to the Southampton Board's arrogant message to the Tuckahoe Board to take it or leave it regarding their demand that is contrary to both their promises to the Tuckahoe community, those who are currently in Westhampton can stay there.

Are Tuckahoe residents such sheep that they will continue to put ...more
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Aug 14, 13 11:15 PM
"Board member Daniel Crough agreed, and said the district fought hard for the rights of the Westhampton Beach students, but at the end of the day the district needed to move forward." Hah! Fought hard? Dan Crough has rolled over at every turn. And, yes, it is completely relevant to mention that he has one child attending SHHS and another one who will be attending.
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Aug 14, 13 11:29 AM
Dr Crough turned to Mr. Grisnik and asked him if his was the only vote and a no vote would mean the end of merger talks would he still have voted no? Mr. Grisnik responded he would still vote no because he puts children first. Dr. Crough also told the Westhampton students that were present that people have to make sacrifices, and the sacrifices they made would look more impressive on college applications. Why must the children sacrifice for the
By dfgmom (8), southampton on Aug 14, 13 11:55 AM
1 member liked this comment
the financial decisions of the school and board. When it was actually less expensive to send children to Westhampton , for the many years before the exclusive, it was too great a sacrifice to deny the choice of Southampton or to split families who may already have siblings attending. So, even though that would have been a more financially sound decision it was not worth the 'sacifice' for those children. I don't think any children should be asked to sacrifice until every other option has been ...more
By dfgmom (8), southampton on Aug 14, 13 12:19 PM
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It is reprehensible that Dan Crough would even consider making the statement about sacrificing being a good thing for our children. It was not put into the article the fact that many of our children have already sacrificed much. And Yes, the board didn't want to "sacrifice" the children by sending them to Westhampton, when it was cheaper, which could've been done long ago.

Dan Crough sits there in his ivory tower boiling down the issue to "a simple one" let the community decide. He is forcing ...more
By purrazz@optonline.net (6), Southampton on Aug 14, 13 12:53 PM
It has become obvious in Dan Crough's gothic leadership of the Board that he is clueless of the fiduciary responsibilities of a Board member to represent ALL taxpayers and their children in how their tax money is spent. Instead of going full bore in deep discussions and spending money in exclusive discussions and "independent" feasibility study of a merger with Southampton, it had the responsibility of allowing Westhampton provide a competitive bid on equal terms as that offered to Southampton, ...more
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Aug 14, 13 7:31 PM
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