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Sep 4, 2013 12:21 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

State Education Department Approves Merger Study For Tuckahoe And Southampton

Sep 4, 2013 12:21 PM

The New York State Education Commissioner has signed off on a merger feasibility study submitted earlier this summer by consultants for the Tuckahoe and Southampton school districts.

The approval from Commissioner John B. King will allow the districts to move forward with public hearings and votes on the merger proposal.

This week, both school districts released the study—which outlines potential changes in staffing, finances and building use if the merger goes through—on their respective websites. On Tuesday night, the Southampton Board of Education publicly discussed the merger study, and the possible merger, for the first time since the study was started earlier this year.

Included in the report is the previously unreleased potential impact the merger would have on both districts’ taxpayers. According to the report, which was conducted by the SES Study Team based in Canastota, if the merger goes through, and the assessed value of a home remains exactly the same, school taxes for Southampton residents will increase by an estimated 8.7 percent, from $2.42 to $2.63 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. But for Tuckahoe residents, the tax rate would drop by nearly two-thirds, from $7.50 to the same $2.63 per $1,000 of assessed valuation that would be levied in the new merged district.

With a number of assumptions in place, an average Southampton homeowner with a home assessed at $500,000 could expect to pay approximately $1,315 in school taxes for the 2014-15 school year. That would represent an increase of $105 from the current year’s projected school tax levy of $1,210.

A Tuckahoe resident with a home assessed at $500,000 could also expect to pay $1,315 in school taxes for the 2014-15 school year. That would represent a decrease of $2,435 from this year’s projected tax bill.

Board members on Tuesday night stressed that the figures are preliminary guesses and subject to change.

“There are a lot of things in this study that are no more than assumptions,” Southampton Board President Heather McCallion said during the meeting. “Although they are assumptions, they do affect the financial impact of the merger, so, hopefully, we will have more answers in the next few weeks.”

According to the report, the tax numbers assume that the 2014-15 budget for the new, merged school district will increase by 2.5 percent, to $71,470,013. It also includes a projected tax levy of $60,471,648. These figures are based on teaching and administrative needs for all four of the district schools. The study states that the number of teachers for grades K-6 will remain the same, but that six fewer instructional program support positions will be needed.

In grades seven through 12, five instructional subject positions are not needed, but the number of support instructors will remain the same, according to the study. The study also suggests the building-level administrative staffing for grades K-12 would be the same in a reorganized school district.

On the district administrative side, 1.8 building administrative positions could be eliminated, as well as one technology position and one secretarial position, according to the study.

In total, staff expenditures for the first year of the new district are expected to be approximately $6,104,634.

“I want to reiterate that the study addresses many things that have nothing to do with this merger,” District Superintendent Scott Farina said. “It addresses some things like staffing at the high school based on formulas that may be used for mergers across the state, but not necessarily how things may happen in Southampton—it is just some suggestions of what the consultants came up with according to their formula. It does not mean it is what Southampton would want to do moving forward.”

On Tuesday, Southampton School Board members said the report gives some very specific numbers on very vague assumptions, and that they wished a scale was given rather than specifics. The board also said the report does not address numerous issues—like the financial impact on both districts if the merger fails and Tuckahoe students chose not to attend Southampton in the future.

With the commissioner’s approval, 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.

The details of the merger will be discussed in multiple community forums scheduled for September 18. Times have not yet been set.

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 2014-15 school year on July 1, 2014.

“This is not just about tax dollars,” board member Andy Brindle said. “It is about how we want the school district to look. Would the district look better with another school combined? Would it look differently? I find it frustrating as a board member that we cannot be more proactive in this process.”

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I urge everyone to read the study - a link can be found on the Tuckahoe School website.

The entire thesis is a work of fiction based entirely on assumptions which were used to reach a foregone conclusion. This is all about tax dollars and has nothing to do with education, especially when you consider SHHS scores on regents exams.
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Sep 4, 13 12:57 PM
2 members liked this comment

This entire study is a big Con by the Southampton School Board (SSB) and the Tuckahoe Board TB) who want to limit choices of Tuckahoe taxpayers only to Southampton.

The SSB has been wildly overcharging Tuckahoe taxpayers for decades to fund their massive overspending on their horrendously mediocre school and suddenly realize that the TB has to make a choice to go with them or another school district in consolidation, sending shivers up their spine for the loss of all that lucrative ...more
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Sep 5, 13 12:02 AM
1 member liked this comment

A Common Sense Solution to the Tuckahoe Problem for Taxpayers/ Parents: A Five Year phased Liquidation of the Tuckahoe School.

In the open market for education, almost all metrics show Tuckahoe to be a failed school, with huge historical increases in low return expenditures, perpetually low test scores, some of the highest tax increases in recent years in New York State, wherein in around 2002, the Board had the gall to raise taxes by 21% in one year.

It's a failed model without ...more
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Sep 6, 13 9:38 AM
Excellent news. Fantastic to read about such great improvements in educational opportunities for all children of this area! The Southampton School Board has nothing to fear but fear itself!
Sep 4, 13 1:33 PM appended by KevinLuss
However, I do not think kids in Westhampton should come out of their school before they graduate. That is a real shame.
By KevinLuss (356), SH on Sep 4, 13 1:33 PM
That's an odd comment. I see nothing referring to "great improvements in educational opportunities". Would you care to elaborate?
By VOS (1241), WHB on Sep 4, 13 1:44 PM
He can't, because this is only about fictional tax dollars.
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Sep 4, 13 2:00 PM
There are too many to list here but they include a plan for a center of reading immersion, a new hi-tech learning center with all new computers and cutting edge technology, the stabilization and growth of SHampton's AP course offerings and a laundry list of increased educational opportunities. But I'm just a lowly taxpaying parent and have no desire to take on the gang of cowardly lions who roar behind fake names ,perpetual anger and effortless zingers. There will be 2 community information sessions ...more
Sep 5, 13 5:04 PM appended by KevinLuss
chief, I have no idea where you get the idea that kids cannot read because of computers. R.I.F.
By KevinLuss (356), SH on Sep 4, 13 5:04 PM
1 member liked this comment
Hmmm the reason children can't read is because the school is lacking a computerized reading program? Then you think we should spend more money on advanced educational programs. These school districts need to learn how to teach the basics.You don't need a computer system to teach kids how to read people have been learning how to read for centuries without a computer. I don't know what the total answer is to fixing the educational problem but it sure isn't spending more money because that's obviously ...more
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Sep 5, 13 6:56 AM
Can someone please explain how adding more kids to a crap school district is good for education?
By SidViscuous (26), on Sep 4, 13 2:17 PM
2 members liked this comment
This entire process, up to and including breaking a promise to our kids to stay at Westhampton Beach (which is not a shame, but a slap in the face) has been a sham. From what I've read so far, the entire study is based on nothing but assumptions, one of the biggest being that assessed values of properties in the district will "remain exactly the same."

The dismissive attitude of those with differing opinions is one of the reasons we've reached this point in the first place. My son already ...more
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Sep 4, 13 5:54 PM
2 members liked this comment
I can appreciate that conservative approach of using an assumption such as ''assessed values of properties in the district will remain exactly the same''. As we know, this is most likely not going to be the case. Should assessed value of properties increase, the tax rates could potentially be even lower. Further, the study was prepared with data, text, charts and information sets provided directly by Scott Farina and his board to the firm who used that data in the resulting findings. There can ...more
Sep 5, 13 5:19 AM appended by KevinLuss
to clarify, both districts and supers provided data and depending on your perspective the tax rate would be different. better word.
By KevinLuss (356), SH on Sep 5, 13 5:19 AM
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The conspiracy is not the vote, but the manipulated data designed to sway that vote.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Sep 5, 13 9:43 AM
That's an odd comment. I have seen nothing that would indicate manipulation of data. Would you care to elaborate?"

Sep 5, 13 9:56 AM appended by KevinLuss
I provided a very specific response to the request that I elaborate. I remain confident that nobody will be able to provide very specific examples of where data was manipulated. Also, unless someone has spoken to the folks quoted in the paper, you are just making assumptions about their gamesmanship. The Southampton Board spent a lot of effort expressing that they were prohibited from advocating for or against the merger.
By KevinLuss (356), SH on Sep 5, 13 9:56 AM
assessments will be made purely according to the tax demands of the town. not according to market demands or lending demands or whatever infrastructure the town has to offer. school or no school the town NEEDS to stay in the business of government so they will conspire to present data/research or whatever that in their best estimation confirms their own existence.
By david h (405), southampton on Sep 5, 13 10:31 AM
my personal example was essentially:
>my bank appraisal was 400K
>my insurance company valuation was $250/sq ft (house 1300 sq ft)
>comp house on my street had just traded @535K, was scraped and a mansion put in its place
> town assed at 800K .. the jusdge denied my re-assessment because the town just needed all the taxes they could get and wouldn't lower my bill.
-whatever tax $ we can possibly save from the inefficient shinnecock school (too many non tax paying families have ...more
By david h (405), southampton on Sep 5, 13 10:40 AM
"too many non tax paying families have ...more their kids there"

They do pay taxes, because they pay rent and the owner of the building has a tax bill. Does the building owner pay a "fair amount" probably not, but that's not the fault of the "residents".
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Sep 5, 13 11:28 AM
the motel has approx. 10 units ..all single or double room occupancy. (and it is in a horrid state, just to add the obvious)
in 2012 there were 75 children in shinnecock school using that address ..the school had to send 2 buses .. did you ever witness it in person ?? I did.
.. that tally simply does not add up .. should I be clearer ?
its either abuse (families from elsewhere driving their kids to that 'motel' to catch the bus .. I also witnessed the kids being ...more
By david h (405), southampton on Sep 5, 13 12:56 PM

There is no need to be specific as to how the data is manipulated which becomes irrelevant because as the Southampton officials said, they are merely products of the consultants' assumptions, not theirs, and they feel no compulsion to stand behind them, acknowledge if they're realistic, and indeed feel any obligation to follow even one bit of them. That is painfully clear from the quotes I provided above.

To conjure up assorted visions about how wonderful and greatly improved the academic ...more
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Sep 5, 13 8:25 PM
2 members liked this comment
Thank you. As much as I work, there is never any time to read fiction. If dagdavid is going to suggest that there is fraud being perpetrated in a scheme including people from Albany to Southampton and beyond, one would think that specifics are in face relevant. It's quite a charge.

With regards to the rest of your fluff. Unless you can find anyone else in the history of Tuckahoe that attempted to dismantle the 3 person board and create a more responsive and representative group of ...more
By KevinLuss (356), SH on Sep 6, 13 5:05 AM
KevinLuss, pleae point out where I stated a "fraud" was being perpetrated in a "scheme including Albany and beyond". I did not.

Your pathetic attempt to completely misrepresent my statements reeks with the stench of desperation that has permeated this rush to merge. Please refrain from attempting to speak for me.

By dagdavid (646), southampton on Sep 6, 13 9:37 AM
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"Unless you can find anyone else in the history of Tuckahoe that attempted to dismantle the 3 person board and create a more responsive and representative group of 5, please let me know."

If memory serves me, you can add me to your list of one. You can also add my wife and a number of other people who can speak for themselves.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Sep 6, 13 10:53 AM
Mr. Luss, are you refering to this "heroic" effort:

Bid for Tuckahoe Changes Dropped For Now

Petition won’t be sent to the state
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Sep 6, 13 11:15 AM
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" Unless you can find anyone else in the history of Tuckahoe that attempted to dismantle the 3 person board and create a more responsive and representative group of 5, please let me know."

With blatant lies, you again turn an evil and sordid attempt by your cabal of Tuckahoe yahoos to displace an elected Board so you can continue your program of incompetence and ignorance that has destroyed this once great school district.

The fact is, you and your cablal including each and ...more
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Sep 7, 13 1:25 AM
1 member liked this comment
Natures a hypocrite she is worried about 40 condos that will produce no children going to school in Hampton Bays. The condos will have a proper sewage treatment plant and part time resident. Meanwhile down the road there is a motel with a couple cesspools basically taking care of a hundred people in 10 small motel rooms. Nature why don't you go down and stand in front of the motel and protest the pollution that is coming out of that place. What about the over 1.5 million the school is using to educate ...more
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Sep 7, 13 8:18 AM
Disagree with you on that on, observant. That board treated this community with the same arrogant dismissiveness as the current. In fact, the similarities between the two boards is astonishing in that both served only thier personal interests. That board's actions began the uncontrollable slide towards destruction of a once great school and this one has hammered the last nail.
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Sep 7, 13 3:33 PM
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Could not agree more, progressnow!
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Sep 7, 13 3:38 PM
tax savings if they merge and run more efficiently .. only to be offset by the loss of tax revenue to the new police force in sagaponack .. only to be reverse offset by the higher densities and demands on the town with the new 88 units on magee st/bishops lane & new shinnecock mini mega mall & the new 44 unit low income housing facility on sandy hollow & new art museum demands & new high density condo project at the canal and alleged 'safe & cost effective' sewage treatment facility on a wooded ...more
By david h (405), southampton on Sep 4, 13 6:53 PM
With the average child costing nearly 30k a year when do we figure out throwing money at education is not working.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Sep 5, 13 11:27 AM
1 member liked this comment
Please cite the "nearl 30k" figure Chief. The average is well below that. (Still high, yes, but not 30k)
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Sep 6, 13 9:10 AM
Using another poster's comment as a reply to my post is a bit smarmy, nonetheless, I have no problem standing behind my assertion. Anyone who knows anything about these studies knows that the study firm is hired to support the goals of their client, not contradict them.

To that end, the firm goes out and makes a number of assumptions ". . . based on formulas that may be used for mergers across the state, but not necessarily how things may happen in Southampton."

Even those ...more
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Sep 5, 13 12:45 PM
It is no surprise that KevinLuss would make such a pathetic attempt at twisting dagdavid's statements to such ludicrous levels.

This is the MO of all of those pushing this merger who feel that they will gain some sort of personal fame for their efforts from their friends and family in the Southampton School district who have used the Tuckahoe taxpayers as a cash cow for oh so many years.

I am curious, do you have children at Tuckahoe, Mr. Luss, and, if so, where were you intending ...more
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Sep 6, 13 10:01 AM
1 member liked this comment