With Tuckahoe School District looking to curb costs to taxpayers, and Southampton School District not wanting to lose all of Tuckahoe's ninth- through 12th-graders to another receiving district, the two school districts now plan to study merging into one.
Tuckahoe School District revealed the districts' intention Wednesday morning in statements to the school faculty and to the media.
The districts have had a close relationship for decades, since Tuckahoe School District does not have a high school of its own and therefore sends most of its older students to Southampton High School. But other local school districts, namely Westhampton Beach and Hampton Bays, charge less for out-of-district tuition, which could translate to a lower school tax rate for Tuckahoe residents. Southampton does not want to lose the Tuckahoe students and the income they provide, as it could result in slashing programs from its budget that Southampton students enjoy.
"We are pursuing the feasibility study to maintain continuous improvement in our academic programs at a similar or reduced cost to our taxpayers," wrote Tuckahoe Superintendent Chris Dyer in an email to faculty and media. "The feasibility study’s purposes are to gather information, to research and provide facts to share, and to make recommendations to the two Boards."
According to a statement from the Tuckahoe School District, while many have speculated about the advantages and disadvantages of a merger, the only way to obtain accurate, objective information is through a study by a neutral third party.
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Dyer noted that a merger was discussed between the districts informally in 2008, and the boards met recently and discussed the tuition rate Tuckahoe is paying to Southampton.
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To find a consulting firm to complete the study and "determine the academic and financial advantages that a merger," both districts will release a request for proposal Wednesday, according to the Tuckahoe statement.
The districts expect to hire a firm in November, with a projected study completion date in January.
Tuckahoe School District noted that just because a study is planned, it does not mean a merger is inevitable; rather, it will be the basis for future decision making.
Dyer invites those interested in the matter to attend the Oct. 22 Tuckahoe School Board business meeting.