Voters in the Southampton and Tuckahoe school districts are heading to the polls on Tuesday in the first on whether to merge the two districts.
The advisory referendum on the proposed annexation takes place in both districts between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.
A straw vote, it is a non-binding vote mandated by State Education Law. 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.
"An economy of scale is usually achieved with a reorganization of school districts. Financial savings are often achieved by eliminating duplicated services and redundancies. These savings can be used to enhance or improve school programs," according to information from the Southampton School District. "The reorganization of the two school districts into one will likely include enhanced student program elements and reduction in the size of workforce for some categories of employees and/or changes in how current employees serve their pupils." 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. Southampton school property taxes are initially projected to rise at least 8 percent.
School taxes will go up about $105 to $1,315 for a property with an assed value of $500,000, an increase of about 8.7 percent.
If the merger is not approved, the Tuckahoe School Board has said it may not be able to send its high school students to Southampton High School. Currently, 26 percent of the 577 students, or about 150 students, in the high school are from Tuckahoe.
"The financial impact to the Southampton School District would be a significant annual loss of approximately $3 million," the district said. "The loss of more than one-quarter of our high school students would affect every facet of our programming."
• The proposition will read: "Should the Southampton Union Free School District and the Tuckahoe Common School District be joined together as a single district by annexation?"
• Southampton School District residents can vote in the Southampton Intermediate School music room 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
• Tuckahoe School District residents can vote in the Tuckahoe School from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
How will you be voting? Tell us which school district you live in and why you are voting for or against the merger.