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Southampton-Tuckahoe School Merger Defeated

Voters in Tuckahoe were in favor of the merger, while Southampton voters were divided.

Linda Springer, the district clerk at Tuckahoe School, counts the absentee ballots. Credit: Taylor K. Vecsey
Linda Springer, the district clerk at Tuckahoe School, counts the absentee ballots. Credit: Taylor K. Vecsey
The proposal to merge the Southampton and Tuckahoe school districts failed to muster a majority in Southampton, therefore squashing the merger, at least for now.

Tuckahoe School District voters, who were looking at a sharp tax decrease if the merger passed, approved the annexation overwhelmingly with a vote of 565 to 35, according to school district clerk Linda Springer.

Meanwhile, Southampton voters were divided with 1,075 voting against the merger and 693 in favor, according to Amy Pierson, the district communications specialist. Southampton residents were looking at a tax increase of at least 8 percent.

Tuesday's vote was meant as an advisory vote. A straw vote, it is a non-binding vote mandated by State Education Law. If the majority of voters were in favor of it, only then would a statutory vote take place on Dec. 5.

Now, it's back to the drawing board, according to Christopher Dyer, the Tuckahoe School superintendent. "We will explore all the options," Dyer said after learning of Southampton's vote. Dyer said he and the board will look for ways to reduce tuition costs, find savings in the budget, and seek out state aid as part of the upcoming budget process. 

"We will continue to look for guidance from our board and our next meeting is Monday," he said. 

Dyer thanked the community, including a handful of parents who stuck around to hear the results on Tuesday evening. "They voted with their hearts for the kids," he said.

In Tuckahoe, there was a total of 600 voters — a large turnout for the district, which has about 1,800 registered voters. Twenty-seven of the votes cast were done by absentee ballot, Springer said. 

Sue Riccardi, who lives in the Tuckahoe School District and has a child in Southampton High School, said she wasn't surprised Tuckahoe voters came out in such force. "This is the way I knew it was going to go. It's what's best for the community. It's about what's right for the kids in the high school," she said.

She said high school students, from both districts, decorated signs encouraging people to vote. Standing in front of the Southampton Middle School, they held signs that said, "Vote Yes," and "11968 — We're all one community."

Of the machine ballots in Southampton School District, 653 were cast in favor of the merger versus 975 that were against. Pierson reported 36 absentee ballots approving the merger and 94 against, plus 4 affidavit votes in favor and 6 against, making for a total of 1,628 votes.

Superintendent Scott Farina was not immediately available for comment, as he went into executive session with the board after the vote.

"We have to continue on with our business and our business is education," Robert E. Grisnik, the chairman of the Tuckahoe School Board said.

Grisnik 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.

Another vote next year is always a possibility, he said.

Check back to Patch for more information as it becomes available.
Hazel Wilkonson the First October 29, 2013 at 08:41 PM
Tuckahoe voted for a tax decrease, SH voted against a tax increase. Was there ever any doubt that this would be the outcome. A complete waste of time and money.
michael Paraskevas October 29, 2013 at 10:03 PM
Another government scam
Meadow Lane October 29, 2013 at 11:10 PM
Southampton taxpayers are not the lambs that Tuckahoe thought them to be. Disgusted with previous taxes levied on them by the Town, their reaction said volumes about their intolerance to further attempts. What is surprising is that their decision, stated so firmly by the votes against the plan, goes against their typically generous support of Southampton's schools. Clearly, there were deeper concerns that our BOE could not overcome and I doubt they ever will. Many comments were shared on Patch this past weekend that helped voters express their worries and share what they knew with others. What I read was far better than the presentations from the S. Hampton BOE, who I give a failing grade to for Failure to Prepare and Communicate to those they represent.
justbreath October 30, 2013 at 05:53 AM
Why on EARTH would Southampton's low tax payers want to have to pay more...SMH
Frank October 30, 2013 at 07:42 AM
Screw Southampton pull the 3 million that tuckahoe pays for students and send them all to westhampton
A Cervone October 30, 2013 at 09:16 AM
It's unfortunate that the perception by some is that we are a community divided. Ethically, it is just that the school districts merge to one as we are a single community. The unfortunate reality that divides us, I hope to believe, is that the financial aspect wasn't worked out prior to bring the merger to a vote. For that, the community was not served well by the boards, particularly, Southampton school board as they held the reins. What's to come is only a matter of time to realize but our comments should reflect our wishes to remain one community.
Hazel Wilkonson the First October 30, 2013 at 12:11 PM
Can we stop with all of this "we're one community" nonsense! The vote proves otherwise. SH voters told Tuckahoe to go to _____. That cannot be anyone's definition of community.
K October 30, 2013 at 01:09 PM
It's kind of like the electoral college. 53% of all voters voted YES and 47% of voters voted NO but the effort has terminated for the time being because of the district rules.
Linda Goldsmith October 30, 2013 at 02:10 PM
Hazel Wilkonson the First - You should move away to an Island that's deserted! Get off this one! With COMMUNITIES that stretch across both forks, counties and shores of Long Island, OMG where would YOU go? The merger will take place eventually anyway.
Hazel Wilkonson the First October 30, 2013 at 02:26 PM
Linda, thanks for your suggestion, but I think I'll stay here and keep you maniacs in check. Your definition of community only applies to those that agree with you - thank you for proving my point with your maniacal. harangue.
Sid Viscuous October 30, 2013 at 02:45 PM
I LOVE all of this talk of "community"! "We are one big happy community. You don't agree with me? Move to an Island! This is MY community!" Wow, you look at the way people in these districts behave and you really have to fear for their children. Crazy, man. Absolutely crazy.
Nelson Richards October 30, 2013 at 02:47 PM
Ladies and folks, This is all in the past now. Read the new piece quoting the SH School Supt saying that he think we must now go to the State Legislature for help. Holy Moses - they truly didn't think of this before yesterday's vote, did they? S Hampton voters were right to be suspicious. Not of Tuckahoe, perhaps, but of their own school board. This is the time for all good people to come to the aid of their school. There's a solution to be found. And these folks need our help. Can anyone hear me????
Private Eyes October 30, 2013 at 04:03 PM
These idiots who voted it down are going to regret it when the state moves in and forces the districts to merge. It's going to be a lot more expensive then.
Sid Viscuous October 30, 2013 at 04:11 PM
Ah, there's some more of that good old community spirit, eh PE? I am sure those "idots" will be much more likely to support your merger next time around considering how kind and understanding you are.
Linda Goldsmith October 30, 2013 at 04:23 PM
My posts include my real name. I have nothing to hide and am a proud "true local!" I have the same zip code as all the other "idiots" and "maniacs" that voted yes or no. The schools should have merged long ago, but we can't dwell in the past, just move forward, however, what gets my maroon blood boiling is people who insist on "segregation" for lack of a better word. "Us" against "them" but it's about all of the kids-both schools-our future-at stake! Taxes go up no matter what you do! The State let everyone down by not timely providing the information necessary to make an actual intelligent vote.
Meadow Lane October 30, 2013 at 04:35 PM
The only time it becomes "us" or "them" is when someone says it. Let's all avoid those words and work this out TOGETHER. I can tell you you that I have never heard it said in SH nor do I feel it exists. I do believe that the board let us down. With every "new idea" it seems that there's a new disclosure that they hadn't done their homework adequately. But we'll work it out. I liked me Blaugh's blog and the helpful replies from our community. I hope he writes again.
Hazel Wilkonson the First October 30, 2013 at 05:11 PM
Ms Goldsmith, you just told someone who disagrees with you to "move to an island". Your hypocrisy is astounding.
Linda Goldsmith October 31, 2013 at 08:49 AM
HW: And you are quoted as saying "Southampton told Tuckahoe to go to _____?" There are other blogs about this merger. You should read some of those opinions. You called it "maniacal harangue" to those who disagree with you. Just sayin"!
Metz Lerner November 02, 2013 at 09:16 PM
Maybe staying to the subject at hand, an important one to all concerned, would be advisable.

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