After a decade-plus absence from the Tuckahoe School Board, Harald Steudte wants to rejoin.
Steudte, who will turn 62 on the day of the election, is self employed, running his own construction business. He has two adult children who are Tuckahoe graduates, Jennifer Parendo, a teacher, and Benjamin Steudte, a construction worker.
He served five three-year terms on the board, ending in 2001 when he declined to seek re-election. He said that several reasons have motivated him to throw his hat in as a candidate once again, and chief among them is taxes.
Steudte said that as a School Board member again, he will fight the Senaca Falls formula, the New York State rule for determining how much a sending district such as Tuckahoe must pay in tuition to receiving districts. Tuckahoe School District does not have a high school, so it sends its ninth through 12th graders to Southampton School District and Westhampton Beach School District.
He thinks the formula is unfair to Tuckahoe, and wants to negotiate and litigate to reduce the cost of tuitioning students, he said. Tuition can run from $23,000 for a typical student, to $65,000 for a student who needs a little extra help, to $100,000 for a student who needs "more than a little help," he said. “That’s almost as much as one instructor's getting — that’s absurd.”
Steudte is also concerned that students attending Tuckahoe School or having their tuition paid by the district may not meet residency requirements, and said it should be investigated to make sure everyone is legally and legitimately in the school.
“What’s interesting in Tuckahoe right now is we’re at 62 percent ESL, non-English speaking population,” he said, adding that it raises the question, “Are they all supposed to be there?”
Another concern is that the number of Tuckahoe students slated to enter high school is about to spike, thus spiking tuition costs, he said. “What’s really going to happen when that comes to pass?”
He expects that next budget season the district will need to pierce the state mandated tax cap implemented in 2012. “The taxpayer should really be prepared that next year’s going to be a major hit,” he said.
He said he wants to see the budget currently proposed pass and said the board did a good job adhering to the tax cap.
Steudte favors the Tuckahoe School Board increasing from three members to five, which he appealed for two years ago unsuccessfully. He said that there has been divisiveness on the board in recent years that he thinks could be avoided with more members.
Steudte said he is not decided on whether Tuckahoe should merge with Southampton School District, but thinks it should be studied. “[The possibility is] always going to be out there," he said. "The state is probably going to look at that very favorably.” He pointed out that assessed property values are higher in , so a merger would work out financially for Tuckahoe residents.
Steudte was a trustee on the Southampton Village Board from 1991 to 1999 and 2003 to 2005. He also served a five-year term on the Southampton Fire District Board of Commissioners after winning as a write-in candidate in 2005.
He has been member of the for more than 30 years and is a former youth baseball coach.
Steudte is looking to unseat , a two-term incumbent.
The election will take place in the gymnasium Tuesday, May 15, between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.