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Jan 9, 2013 12:29 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Tuckahoe And Southampton Identify Key Questions For Merger Study, Seek Volunteers For Panel

Jan 16, 2013 9:41 AM

Just beginning the merger feasibility study process, board members and administrators from the Southampton and Tuckahoe school districts have a lot of questions.

At the first of several public meetings concerning the study, which took place at the Rogers Memorial Library last Wednesday, January 9, officials from both districts identified key concerns they have—primarily how a merger would affect taxes, students, staff and the districts’ facilities and programming.

The SES Study Team, the consulting firm conducting the study, opened the floor up to board members and both superintendents to voice concerns and to specify what they think the feasibility study should address. The results of the study are not expected to be completed or published until early August, according to Doug Exley, a member of the study team. The boards could put a potential merger to a vote as early as the summer of 2014.

“A merger study is a big undertaking—it’s an emotional undertaking when talking about local school districts,” Mr. Exley said to the officials. “This will be helpful for you, but it’s not something you’re going to be making a decision on now.”

After about an hour of collecting board members’ thoughts, the study team asked the boards to choose what they thought were the most important discussion points out of the 30 collected from their forum.

Roles were reversed as the board members and administrators got out of their seats to tally their choices, much like a game in a classroom.

District officials said they felt that the most pressing issues were what the impact of consolidation would be on taxes and finances for both districts; what would happen to staff members; identifying the different types of reorganization and how a chosen structure would affect students, staff and the boards; and determining how the districts can move forward together and respect each district’s unique identities, traditions and cultures, and create a new unified identity. Also identified were questions regarding the use of facilities and how they would be used to serve the students under a reorganization; setting a clear time line; identifying the 
opportunities, expectations and challenges with respect to student athletics and co-curricular activities; choosing programs that could be enhanced and created for special education students, and determining if reorganization would allow 
more special education students to be taught in their home districts; and, finally, what incentives would support a reorganization.

Tuckahoe School Board member Robert Grisnik expressed difficulty in seriously discussing reorganization, especially considering how it might affect those directly involved.

“The two districts have been working together for many, many years, but for me, being on the board as long as I have been, it’s very hard for me to sit down and talk about a merger because I believe in our district and over the years we’ve provided great education for our students and hired great staff members,” he said. “Those two things right there are my number one items I’m concerned about.”

Despite Mr. Grisnik’s reservations, the SES Study Team commended him and the boards for coming together to finding a solution to Tuckahoe School’s sinking financial future, but remained on point about the study’s purpose.

“First and foremost, this is about your kids and the programs for your kids,” Mr. Exley said. “Couple with that how we can do it more efficiently and more cost effectively.”

At the end of the meeting, the SES Study Team stressed the importance of having a joint community advisory committee to help with the merger study. According to Mr. Exley, the 30-member committee will review documents and provide insight, helping to answer the study’s key question: whether instructional opportunity will be enhanced for all students at a similar or reduced cost to taxpayers by combining the two districts.

Currently, the school districts are looking for parents, taxpayers, and other stakeholders—15 from each district—to take part in five to seven meetings led by the consulting firm over the course of seven months, beginning on January 30. Each meeting will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. at a central location.

Those interested in participating in the advisory committee should contact Terri Sutherland at the Southampton School District by calling 591-4510 or emailing tsutherland@southamptonschools.org, or Linda Springer at the Tuckahoe School District by calling 283-3550, extension 317, before January 22.

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If you really want community involvement, why wait until the day of the meeting to announce it? Did either school contact parents or community members prior to this? I was never contacted. The whole process is a sham and, like all "studies", a firm is hired to buttress the client's assertions, not disprove them
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Jan 9, 13 12:44 PM
2 members liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Jan 10, 13 8:39 AM
Stinker, Progressnow's comment is perfectly legitimate, that letting the community know about the issue the day of the meeting is deliberately exclusionary of community involvement, so the Board can simply appoint members of their core group who will simply rubber stamp their predetermined decisions. Obvious.

Your reference that they don't contact those who disagree with them is why this school district is practically bankrupt and is the idiotic school district that it has become. The ...more
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Jan 10, 13 8:41 PM
1 member liked this comment
Observant, you have perfectly summarized the current Tuckahoe School. For many of us it is almost as if the board intentionally decided to destroy the school in order to allow a merger.

Just 2 years ago the school board went to the public asking to spend a million dollars to build on campus housing and now they are on the brink of destruction? What the hell happened?

The point of merging one now mediocre school with another is spot on! And for what? To save $600,000 of an ...more
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Jan 11, 13 10:46 AM
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It looks like the purpose of the story is to state that they are looking for members of the public to work on this. You wrote as thoughit is a done deal already.
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Jan 9, 13 3:28 PM
Moderator, you remove my comment in response to Stinker's ad-hominem but leave his? Come on.
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Jan 10, 13 9:33 AM
I am with Observant and Progressnow on this. They have perfectly described what has transpired.

By dagdavid (646), southampton on Jan 11, 13 11:11 AM
Stinker, "violently lash out"? What is your connection to the school? I am a parent who pays very close attention to what is happening and willing to stand behind my assertions with my name. I have seen your posts, your inclination is almost always to resort to extremist rhetoric and personal attacks so it extremely funny that you would accuse others of the same.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Jan 11, 13 3:15 PM
You guys can throw around nastiness and blame all you want but the reality is that small school districts are not efficient to run. We live in a neighborhood where colleges and world class golf courses get huge tax breaks, where there is little else in the way of a business district, where there was a sudden wave of new immigrants to educate and where there is a community that doesn't want to pay another penny, with some of them lobbying strongly against any tax increase in recent years (and spreading ...more
By teachourkids (36), southampton on Jan 11, 13 7:39 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Jan 12, 13 2:06 AM
Teach, you mentioned real factors but those are hardly the dominant reasons. The community's dissatisfaction is due to 2 things: Out of control expenses by the School Board and utter failure to provide even just decent quality education, a return for all the taxes levied that could perhaps increase real estate values.

From 2001 to 2010, expenditures went up near double digits every year, all on top of a gigantic 21% increase about 2002, all charged to outraged taxpayers. If you pay attention ...more
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Jan 12, 13 2:06 AM
I remember a time that the school board tried to reign in teachers contracts. The board got so much crap from so many people! The teachers wore black shirts to school every day in protest. Obbservant, I don't disagree with you, the increase around 2002 could have possibly been from the addition. School population went up drastically right after that. Other than teachers salaries you don't mention what the out of control expenses actually were. But you can't deny the fact that what was acceptable ...more
By teachourkids (36), southampton on Jan 12, 13 9:53 PM
1)Teach, one of the key jobs of the Board is fiscal responsibility, reining in excessive, out of control salaries, benefits, and pensions of personnel that could bankrupt a school in the future, regardless of any crap from teachers' friends in the community who feel that loyalty to their friends is more important than the responsibilities to taxpayers. If the Board can't stand the heat, they shoUld have gotten out of the kitchen to make way for people who could get the job done! That "crap" is a ...more
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Jan 13, 13 12:45 AM
Obbservant, you would then need to shift blame to those that are hired to handle these things, namely the past superintendents and finance staff. The board relies upon their advice and knowledge when making these decisions, as they never claimed to be experts in the area of finance as you are. As far as getting out of the kitchen to make way for people who could get the job done, wow, if you knew anything at all about tuckahoe school you would know that there weren't many willing to do the job. ...more
By teachourkids (36), southampton on Jan 14, 13 10:13 PM

Teach,I am on record as having called Rozzi a hopelessly inept educator who presided over the steep decline of Tuckahoe. But she was largely following the lead of Grisnik, not vice versa as we all knew. Grisnik was the biggest defender of the Rozzi horrors.

When the sharp and experienced former principal who replaced Rozzi did not see perfectly eye to eye with Grisnik, he was gone in scarcely over six months! That sharp gentleman was the one who figured out quickly what it was costing ...more
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Jan 15, 13 3:48 AM
Observant, aka former board member, since you brought it up, the school went down hill AFTER you forced out Rozzi to satisfy your need for personal vengeance.

The business officer you refer to was a complete idiot, hired by an inept board who then gave him a huge raise for his ineptness. It was your time on the board that led to Tuckahoe's demise. I remember it well, as do so many others. You cannot escape your past. I feel sorry for everyone still living in that district, all of ...more
By witch hazel (224), tatooine on Jan 15, 13 9:19 AM
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Hey, teach, your logic is flawed. Are you unable to disagree with the president of the United States because you didn't run for the presidency?

You and observant or both off base. The buck stops with whoever is in charge, but that does not mean that the school wasn't destroyed long before their time!

2 years ago 2 members of this current board came to the Tuckahoe tax payers and asked to spend a million dollars of SURPLUS on on-campus housing! (the third member now believes ...more
By witch hazel (224), tatooine on Jan 15, 13 9:26 AM
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Amen, Hazel!! Don't you just love how some people try to rewrite history to make themselves heroes when they were the cause of the problems?
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Jan 15, 13 12:37 PM
Hazel , I don't agree that it's a fair analogy to compare running for president with running for a board seat on a small school board where it's possible nobody will even run against you. It's a no experience necessary, unpaid position that would probably be a more valuable use of time than spending countless hours posting hundreds of comments on this and another online news websites comments section. Our community being the tiny community that it is, it's so easy to make a difference! This ...more
By teachourkids (36), southampton on Jan 15, 13 9:31 PM
The school is basically broke and taxpayers have had enough. The school was warned about illegal motels and over crowded housing where multiple kids were illegally coming to school. The district did nothing so they could leave the bloated structure in place for taxpayers to deal with. There is no time to waste merge Tuckahoe with Southampton and fire half the staff. The layoffs are all this board is worried about. How about you worry about our wallets for once?
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jan 11, 13 7:42 PM
Pay attention, kiddies. Stinker has clearly identified himself as the newest member of the Tuckahoe school board. This is how you communicate with taxpayers in your district? Hah! No wonder your school is on the brink of collapse and the community is fed up. Stay classy, HS. Disgusting.
By witch hazel (224), tatooine on Jan 12, 13 10:44 AM
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Stinker is clearly someone who believes he is in the know, but is extremely nervous about being identified (hence the change of the user name over and over)

If you read his posts, however, he does clearly insinuate that he is part of the "We" he refers to when discussing the board and the community.

I have identified myself on these boards numerous times and my screen name is simply a shortening of my full name, David D'Agostino. Unlike the others who rant and rave about Tuckahoe, ...more
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Jan 12, 13 12:45 PM
There is no doubt you care about the future of the school and high school choice David. When I say few people came to the meeting, aside from one particularly busy meeting, you can attest to the fact that most were not well attended. I've spoken to a few parents who are upset about the possible merger who haven't come to a meeting all year. There needs to be more of a show of support by the Tuckahoe community to change this boards mind.
By teachourkids (36), southampton on Jan 12, 13 9:58 PM
The taxpayers have had enough! Instead of answering to the teacher's union, the board should answer to those paying the bills!
Speaking of bills, how will the merger effect the taxpayers of the Southampton School District? Will my taxes go up because of fiscal irresponsibility in Tuckahoe? Will the Southampton school boards have any say in what happens to Tuckahoe staff members? While we're all in the same community here, the well is about dry, we are TAXED ENOUGH ALREADY!
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 13, 13 8:36 AM
Bigfresh, you've got it backwards! Us tuckahoe taxpayers have been propping up Southampton with our tax dollars for years! We have paid literally tens of millions of dollars in tuition fees to Southampton high. Our taxes are nearly 3 times as high as yours and you're complaining about us! Hah! What a freaking joke! It is the refusal of Southampton hight to cut Tuckahoe residents a break that has led the school to its decline. Wow, the blatant ignorance of the facts in your post is astonishing, ...more
By witch hazel (224), tatooine on Jan 13, 13 10:16 AM
And it is Southampton, desperate to fill a school after a huge, unneeded expansion, that is leading this push. I suggest you direct your complaints to them.
By witch hazel (224), tatooine on Jan 13, 13 10:18 AM
Maybe you should leave your house and see whats really happening. Tuckahoe has many kids coming from illegal motels and illegal multi family housing units. One motel in the district has over 50 children living there which costs the district over a million dollars. The district has been warned that this was a problem and did nothing.
The district of Southampton has low taxes because of the houses in the estate section not from Tuckahoe. The thought that Tuckahoe keeps Southampton taxes low ...more
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jan 15, 13 6:12 PM
Have to agree with you here Hazel.
By teachourkids (36), southampton on Jan 15, 13 9:39 PM
We all choose where we live WITCH. I chose the Southampton district because of the low tax rates thanks to the multi million dollar homes in the Village among other things. I could care less if you chose a district where you pay out the wazoo for a bunch of illegals living in motels and over crowded homes. My question is whether Southampton School Districts taxpayers will see an increase in rates when the consolidation is completed.. If so, leave things the way they are. No need to make it personal, ...more
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 13, 13 10:32 AM
Bigfresh, Hazel may not have stated it to your liking, but she is dead on accurate. A big part of the reason your taxes in Southampton have been so low is because of the 10s of millions of tuition dollars paid to Southampton by Tuckahoe residents.

You cheer for the demise of Tuckahoe in order to make some ludicrous political statement about immigrants while neglecting to realize that we have been propping you up for years and years and that includes those of us who did not even send ...more
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Jan 13, 13 12:33 PM
Stinker, aka we all know who you are, has perfectly demonstrated why the public does not get involved, regardless of what side they are on. With board members like these, what do you really think can be accomplished.
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Jan 14, 13 2:41 PM
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progress Now..... the fiscal conservative... questioning where money is going....LOL
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Jan 15, 13 4:10 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By witch hazel (224), tatooine on Jan 16, 13 8:20 AM
since Bob Grisnik, spokesperson for all southampton, has been on the board for over 20 years why is he not answering the questions regarding prior superintendents, comptrollers, union contracts, building contracts, tuition contracts, etc. seems to have no voice these days
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Jan 16, 13 4:45 PM
Grisnik, the common thread in the Tuckahoe Boards that oversaw Tuckahoe's collapse from the community's pride into academic Hell and impending financial insolvency, who ignored community entreaties to professionalize governance and planning.

He is the person most responsible for the decline and the power behind that Board who installed that deer staring into the headlights Dan Crough who knows academic governance and financial budgeting about as much as a raccoon does about playing the ...more
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Jan 16, 13 6:27 PM