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Sep 23, 2013 9:06 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Tuckahoe Board Of Education Unanimously Approves Moving Forward With Merger Vote

Sep 23, 2013 9:06 PM

The Tuckahoe Board of Education unanimously voted in favor of moving forward with a proposed merger with the Southampton School District on Monday night.

The approval by the board was the first hurdle necessary for the merger to move forward. With Tuckahoe's approval, the Southampton Board of Education will cast their vote on the issue at the October 1 meeting.

If the Southampton board approves the merger, the proposal, which would annex the Tuckahoe school into the Southampton School District effective on July 1, will go to votes in each community on October 29. If either community fails to pass the vote, the merger will die, but if it passes, a final vote will be cast by both districts, and supervised by the state education department, on December.

"The study team did a great job presenting a road map of what would happen in the merged school district," Tuckahoe Board President Bob Grisnik said during Monday nights meeting. "We plan on working with Southampton and their school board and getting that information out, educating both communities on a lot of different things having to do with the merger, so everybody is fully informed and can make a good decision when they go to vote yes or no."

The possibility of the merger has long been discussed, but the study was not begun until last October, when both school boards voted to move forward. According to Tuckahoe Superintendent Chris Dyer, the difficult decision was forced by the financial situation of his district. Mr. Dyer estimates that due to the state mandated 2-percent tax levy cap, the district will have exhausted all of its reserve funds by the 2015-16 school year.

The current 2013-14 budget for Southampton is $61.9 million, and the current budget for Tuckahoe is $18.5 million. According to the study, the 2014-15 budget for the newly merged district would be about $71.5 million, approximately $8.9 million less than the two districts’ combined 2013-14 budgets, which total about $80.4 million, even without taking into account increases that could be expected in their separate budgets between 2013-14 and 2014-15.

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This is a sad final capitulation by the Board to the financial and academic damage they had wrought for more than a decade that had brought a once proud school district now on its knees facing the ultimate humiliation - financial and academic bankruptcy.

And if this Board had any sense of shame and propriety, they would resign, all of them for the incompetence they have shown that has led to this, and let more enlightened people manage this process instead of rigging the process to their ...more
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Sep 24, 13 1:05 AM
1 member liked this comment
Excellent editorial titled "Editorial: Proposed East End school merger a model for LI" in the Sept. 20 issue of Newsday addresses this topic at length. Of particular note is this quote:

"The plan is good news for residents in both districts, who would see significant budget savings, as well as more and improved class and extracurricular offerings. They would be wise to approve it in voting later this fall. The proposal also is food for thought for other districts where financial struggles ...more
By KevinLuss (356), SH on Sep 24, 13 6:10 AM
Every district in Suffolk should be merged into a county school district like they do in most of the country. The average district on Long Island is full of fat cat administrative jobs instead of hiring more teachers. We don't need all these fragmented little districts it is very inefficient. This will happen eventually just for the sheer fact that people cannot pay anymore than they are for property taxes.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Sep 24, 13 8:16 AM
1 member liked this comment
Merging Tuckahoe with a substandard, failing school district is proof that this is not about education. When the study assumptions prove wrong, the taxes stay the same (or go up if you are in Southampton), your house values have declined and your children are not learning, you supporters won't have to admit it was a mistake, but you'll have to live with it.
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Sep 24, 13 8:54 AM
Citing Newsday as a source of support is more than a little pathetic. Rather than congratulating both districts for exploring a merger,someone should take them to task for having caused the precipitious decline of their respective schools.
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Sep 24, 13 8:59 AM
The merger just gives two incompetent administrations more reasons to fail.
To actually save any money, the Tuckahoe school should close and all the students should be absorbed into the existing Southampton schools. The number of students declines because already property taxes are so high due to the exorbitant school budgets. So why not just get serious about "merging?"
By localcitizen (110), Southampton on Sep 24, 13 9:53 AM