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Jun 4, 2012 1:24 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Tuckahoe And Southampton Schools To Host Joint Public Meeting On Wednesday

Jun 6, 2012 10:14 AM

Members of the Southampton and Tuckahoe school boards were slated to sit down on Wednesday, June 6, to discuss ways the two districts can better work together.

The meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. in the Morris Meeting Room of the Rogers Memorial Library, is meant to bridge the gap and “strengthen the relationship between Southampton and Tuckahoe,” according to Tuckahoe School Superintendent Chris Dyer.

The meeting was first planned as an informal, private get-together between members of both boards—something akin to a relationship-building retreat, according to Southampton School Superintendent Dr. J. Richard Boyes. “Both boards have changed over time, and most members do not even know each other,” he said.

The meeting quickly evolved into an open forum at the library when some members of the community expressed a desire for a public meeting right away, since the districts are intertwined in many ways.

Both districts also have opted in for a possible state-funded efficiency study, along with five other districts and the Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services, which would consider whether they should engage in shared services—and even weigh the possibility of consolidating some of the districts in the group.

Mr. Dyer downplayed the possibility that consolidation—a topic that has been raised in the past where Tuckahoe and Southampton are concerned—would be discussed on Wednesday, but Dr. Boyes said it likely would come up. But he added, “There would have to be a mutual agreement by the respective boards of education to even pursue this option—it cannot be unilateral. The State Education Department has a well thought-out sequential process that requires a lot of data collection, analysis and polling of voter support prior to a formal vote [for consolidation].”

The upcoming meeting between the Southampton and Tuckahoe school boards isn’t the first of its kind, according to Mr. Dyer.

In February, officials from both districts met to discuss ways to share services and save money. As a result, the Tuckahoe Common School District alone saved about $20,757 in transportation costs by contracting with the Southampton School District to provide bus service for one special needs student to the Islip Academic Center for the remainder of the year. Next year, the district will save an estimated $31,920 from the deal.

“This meeting is really a sequential and concurrent segment of ongoing discussions that precede current board and administrative members,” Mr. Dyer said.

At a recent Tuckahoe School Board meeting, School Board President Robert Grisnik said that everything would be “on the table” for discussion.

“Now that the meeting will be held in public, we’re likely to discuss common history and identify specific issues for future work sessions,” Dr. Boyes agreed, adding that no decisions would be made.

In light of budget cuts to stay under the state-imposed 2-percent tax levy cap next year, school officials expect to discuss many issues, including tuition rates that Tuckahoe pays to Southampton each year. Consolidation, and other options to “improve efficiency and effectiveness,” all will be discussed, Mr. Dyer said.

On June 19, Tuckahoe residents will vote on the school’s amended $17.7 million budget, which is approximately $157,227 less than a budget rejected by voters last month. The district has reduced its projected tax levy increase from 1.99 percent to 0.99 percent. According to district officials, the reductions were made in transportation, maintenance, equipment, supplies and business office restructuring.

A budget hearing will be held at the school on Tuesday, June 12, at 7:30 p.m.

“This meeting supports open communications and greater community engagement,” Mr. Dyer said. “We all belong to the Southampton community. We have been historically connected and remain an integrated educational family.”

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Get out and vot Tuckahoe taxpayers!!
By bigfresh (4534), north sea on Jun 5, 12 6:18 AM
Yeah, get out and vot!
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Jun 5, 12 8:20 AM
Hampton Bays Rotary, Autumn Evening by the Sea, Oakland's, HB Rotary