The East Quogue Board of Education took a step toward giving students in the district the option of choosing to attend Hampton Bays schools instead of Westhampton Beach schools at its meeting Tuesday night.
The board unanimously approved a resolution authorizing Board of Education President Mario Cardaci to “include Hampton Bays as a tuition choice for seventh through 12th grade students.”
East Quogue School Superintendent Les Black explained that the resolution, though preliminary, was the first step in allowing the board to move forward in discussions with the Hampton Bays School District. He said during the meeting that the intention is to give students the option of attending Hampton Bays schools as early as next year, the 2013-2014 school year.
The board reported that in 2011, the East Quogue School District had a total of 424 students enrolled in the Westhampton Beach Middle School and High School, and a total of 424 students in the East Quogue Elementary School. The State Department of Education calculates tuition payments using a statewide system known as the Seneca Falls formula.
Hampton Bays Schools Superintendent Lars Clemensen said Tuesday morning that the amount of tuition the East Quogue School District would pay per student would be determined during the contractual agreement, but he said the state formula has traditionally generated lower tuition rates for the Hampton Bays School District than surrounding districts. Mr. Black said it could be a way for the East Quogue District to save money.
Mr. Clemensen said that before the Hampton Bays Board of Education can express interest in reaching such an agreement with the East Quogue School District, it must determine the capacity of the middle school and the high school to take on additional students.
“By no means is it a guarantee,” he said, adding that the School Board would need to evaluate how many additional students could be added to the schools without bringing in additional staff or classrooms. “We still have a lot of work to do.”
During the meeting Tuesday night, the East Quogue Board of Education also approved a $19.7 million tax levy for the 2012-2013 school year, the same levy that the district projected before it adopted a $22.4 million budget last spring.
Mr. Black said the tax rate increased to $10.39 per $1,000 of assessed value, up 20 cents from the projected tax rate of $10.19, a 4 percent increase from the 2011-2012 tax rate of $9.97 per $1,000 of assessed value. Under the new tax rate, a taxpayer with a home valued at $450,000 will pay $4,676 in the 2012-2013 school year, an increase of $189 from what they paid during the 2011-2012 school year.
Mr. Black said the tax rate increased despite the fact that the levy remained the same due to a drop in assessed property values in the district.