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Jan 8, 2016 2:36 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton School District Considering Purchasing Building For District Office

The Southampton School District administration building was built in 1969 as a temporary structure, but is still being used 47 years later. DANA SHAW
Jan 8, 2016 2:50 PM

Southampton School District officials are currently in the process of searching for a building in the village to possibly purchase for a new district office.

The current district office is situated on the grounds of the Intermediate School in a 47-year-old structure that, when built, was only intended to be used for three years. Southampton Superintendent Dr. Scott Farina said this week that the temporary classroom building “just isn’t repairable at this point” because it does not comply with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, it does not have a robust HVAC system, and it simply does not have enough work space.

After weighing several options for a new office, Dr. Farina said that the most viable option would be to purchase an already-existing structure somewhere in Southampton. The district has already began a search, he said.

“We have started looking around. Certainly there are properties that are on the market and are being advertised for sale, but there are probably other properties out there that people would be willing to sell if they knew that someone was interested in it,” the superintendent said. “We would love to have some type of proposition for the May polling, with the budget vote.”

Other options considered were housing the office in an existing district building, leasing space, or constructing a new structure at the site of the current building. For the first option, Dr. Farina said that increasing student enrollment along with state mandates for more instructional programs make it hard to find additional space in one of the schools. Leasing an office building is also not a viable option because the district can only enter lease agreements for no more than five years, making that solution a temporary one. It also wouldn’t be cost-effective: “Looking at fair market value out here, we’re probably looking at $300,000 a year, something like that, which is expensive for a lease,” Dr. Farina said.

As for constructing a new building, Dr. Farina said that option was not entirely out of the question, but it was also not the best one. He explained that construction costs would be high due to the Wicks Law, which states that the union-prevailing wage be paid to workers, and the actual building of the structure would create a disturbance to students and neighbors. It is also, he said, almost too permanent of a solution. “If we build a building on site, we can never get rid of it. You can’t divest and there’s no exit strategy,” he said.

Dr. Farina stressed that purchasing a new building would not tack on additional taxes for district residents, as taxpayers already approved setting up a capital reserve account in the 2009-10 school year that targeted the creation of a bus garage and a new district office. With the bus garage project completed, there is now $8.2 million remaining in the reserve that officials can use for the new office. Voter approval is required for the district to tap into that money, though, Dr. Farina said.

Southampton school officials have talked about a new district office for several years. Dr. Farina said that recently, though, the matter was set aside due to the possible merger with the Tuckahoe School District.

“We put this on hold while we were investigating the merger with Tuckahoe. Now that we see that the merger did not go through—twice—we are revisiting this, because it is absolutely a need for the district,” he explained.

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Since the last set of temporary modular buildings lasted 47 years, why not just get another set? With some planing the entire installation of the buildings could be done over the next summer break with little disruption as the kids and most employees are off for the summer. Of course, this would be an inexpensive solution so I am sure it will not make it to the list of possible choices.
By bird (828), Sag Harbor on Jan 8, 16 4:39 PM
1 member liked this comment
Why has the school board not budgeted money over the years for this project??? All of the sudden the building is done. No planning for the future??? Spend all of the budget each year and just ask for more each year...
By knitter (1940), Southampton on Jan 8, 16 8:10 PM
Did you read the article?
Dr. Farina stressed that purchasing a new building would not tack on additional taxes for district residents, as taxpayers already approved setting up a capital reserve account in the 2009-10 school year that targeted the creation of a bus garage and a new district office. With the bus garage project completed, there is now $8.2 million remaining in the reserve that officials can use for the new office. Voter approval is required for the district ...more
By Hampton Hillbilly (10), Hampton Bays on Jan 10, 16 9:38 AM
What's happening with the property on Major's Path? Maybe the district could sell it or put it to use....it's been sitting vacant for years. That would put more $ into its coffers towards a new admin building.
By pvalk6 (32), Southampton on Jan 8, 16 8:29 PM
1 member liked this comment
Having sat on the Board of Directors at The Southampton Nursery School, I can say that the intent of the nursery school was to always have the property used for
educational use, not financial gain Having said that, the Majors Path property would be a good place for the Southampton SD District Offices. The district already owns the property and it is not far from the three schools.
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on Jan 8, 16 9:46 PM
2 members liked this comment
The majors path building is perfect for the administration. Problem solved
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on Jan 9, 16 5:27 PM
The majors path building is perfect for the administration. Problem solved
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on Jan 9, 16 5:28 PM
That administrative office is filled with friends of friends doing absolutely nothing. The Southampton School District has a shrinking population, and does not need to expand. We need to stop spending, and Scott Farina needs to leave, because he is fiscally irresponsible. We are going to end up like Sachem where they are out of money, and closing schools. At 39k a student I think we are at the end of our wallets.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jan 10, 16 2:53 PM
2 members liked this comment
FYI this is the money they were going to give up to subsidize the increased taxes if the Tuckahoe merger went through. They allocated this capital improvement money to offset the immediate increase in taxes to Southampton taxpayers.

That''s how they presented the "look! your taxes won't go up!" merger financials.

Now just imagine this money had been given up and they came to you today and said "oh, we need a new building and have no money"
By diy_guy (101), Southampton on Jan 10, 16 4:55 PM
The comparison to Sachem is very accurate and it is hard to believe there continues to be an increase in enrollment.
By 11953guest (48), southampton on Jan 12, 16 7:16 AM