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Southampton Superintendent: For School District To Merge, State Needs To Help

Southampton School Board will focus on whether Tuckahoe will send students to Southampton High School in coming year.

Southampton residents may have voted down the Southampton-Tuckahoe school merger on Tuesday night, but the discussion is far from over.

"Our plan is to work with Tuckahoe to see what the future sending-receiving relationship is going to be," Scott Farina, the Southampton School District superintendent, said Wednesday. "That's the first thing we need to do."

The merger proposal was defeated by Southampton voters 1,075-to-693, while Tuckahoe voters overwhelmingly supported the plan in a 535-to-35 vote.
Southampton would have suffered the bigger brunt, as an 8 percent tax increase was projected, while Tuckahoe's taxes would have decreased. The vote Tuesday was meant as an advisory vote that had both districts approved would have gone to a referendum in December.

While the merger is off the table for the 2014-15 year, another merger vote is possible in the future.

However, Farina said the districts will require help from state legislators. There is a need for new legislation that would help alleviate the burden on the receiving district in the annexation process, he said.

"I think that if the state wants small districts to merge and consolidate we're going to need legislation. If not, the chances of merger votes being put down strictly on the tax impact are great," he said.

On Tuesday evening, Robert E. Grisnik, the chairman of the Tuckahoe School Board said he has met with Sen. Ken LaValle, R-Port Jefferson, and Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., I-Sag Harbor, and they told him they are committed to seeing the merger take place. He said he would look to them for help in the coming months.

Farina said the district saw an above average turnout, like Tuckahoe did, for the advisory vote. Over 1,600 people cast ballots in Southampton. Last year's budget vote saw 600 voters, a smaller than usual turnout, which averages about 1,000, he said. There are 7,000 registered voters in the district.

"I really didn't have any expectation one way or the other," Farina said when asked if the outcome surprised him.

The Tuckahoe School Board meets Monday, and the Southampton School Board meets Tuesday.
Nelson Richards October 30, 2013 at 02:43 PM
And why wasn't this thought of before this vote? Why wasn't this discussed with the legislature? Is Dr Farina saying that neither SH or Tuckahoe put their heads together first to consider ALL the possibilities? Surely we can't be the first districts in the State of NY of have difficulty with the tax implications of a merger? Southampton needs leadership that is knowledgable. This is not the time to be going through this process with training wheels on either side of you. God help our children AND our community. I'm sorry, but you can't make this stuff up - you really can't.
Jerry Can October 30, 2013 at 05:42 PM
More of the Southampton voters need to turn out for the annual budget votes as well and not just for these one off votes. Its nice to talk about getting the state to help with the process, but where do the budgets go once that aid is removed. What's the true picture down the road. As I can see it Tuckahoe as to take a hard look at its numbers before it gets assimilated.

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