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Southampton, Tuckahoe Voters Headed to Polls on School Districts Merging

Straw votes scheduled in each school district on Oct. 29.

Voters in the Southampton and Tuckahoe school districts will get to show their position on the proposal to merge the two school districts at the end of the month. 

On Tuesday, the Southampton Board of Education voted to call a special district meeting to allow for the advisory referendum. The Tuckahoe School Board approved the vote at a meeting in September.

A straw vote — a non-binding vote — will take place in both districts on Oct. 29. State Education Law mandates an advisory vote be held on a merger, and if the majority of voters are in favor of it, only then can a statutory vote take place, according to Southampton School District Superintendent Scott Farina. That vote will take place, if necessary, on Dec. 5.

Last year, the districts commissioned a merger feasibility study, which was released this summer and has been approved by the State Education Department.

If the merger is approved, Southampton School District taxpayers are looking at an increase in their tax rate for the 2014-15 school year, while Tuckahoe School District taxpayers are looking at a sharp decrease.

School tax rates will go up $105 to $1,315 for a property with an assed value of $500,000, an increase of about 8.7 percent. Tuckahoe property owners will see their tax rates go down more than $2,400 on properties with the same assessed values. 

Board members and superintendents are prohibited under state law from campaigning for or against a merger. Farina would only say, "There are economies of scale that could be realized by a merger." 

According to an informational packet on the proposed merger, the cost of education per pupil goes down as the number of pupils goes up. "Because mergers create larger school districts, they result in lower per pupil costs when economies of scale exist," it said. 

Information was sent out on Wednesday with facts and more information on the merger. Farina said residents should receive them by the weekend. 

On Oct. 29, Southampton voters can cast their ballot in the Southampton Intermediate School music room 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The same hours apply to the Tuckahoe School District voters, who will vote at their school.


michael Paraskevas October 03, 2013 at 09:01 AM
i'll believe it when i see it.

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