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Jan 12, 2015 11:58 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton School District Proposes Five-Year Tuition Deal To Tuckahoe

Jan 14, 2015 10:50 AM

Southampton School District officials have approached their counterparts in Tuckahoe with a proposed five-year tuition exclusivity deal, one that would require Tuckahoe taxpayer approval via referendum this spring.

Under the proposal, Southampton would offer a 15-percent discount in 2015-16 from the non-resident tuition rate cap set by the state, as well as a 25-percent discount for special education tuition—though both rates would be higher than the amount currently paid by Tuckahoe for students matriculating to Southampton. As a condition, Tuckahoe would have to approve a tuition contract through 2020.

“We want the Tuckahoe students here,” Southampton Superintendent Dr. Scott Farina said this week. “We do not want to go every year not knowing what our budget and revenue numbers are going to look like.

“We would like to put this to rest for five years, so the Tuckahoe students do not have to worry about where they are going to school, and we have better projections for the future,” he added.

Tuckahoe officials declined to comment on the proposal, which was delivered to the district on Friday. The Tuckahoe School Board has not had a chance to fully vet the figures or other viable tuition options on the East End, Superintendent Chris Dyer and School Board President Bob Grisnik both said this week. They hope to have a decision made by the end of this month and have scheduled a community forum on January 21.

Under state law, Tuckahoe would have to hold a public referendum in the spring to approve any tuition deal extending beyond one year. The Tuckahoe School Board can, however, vote this month to approve the first-year tuition figures.

According to state mandates, the most the Southampton School District is allowed to charge in tuition for the 2015-16 school year for each non-resident student is $27,069; the cap is $88,842 for each special education student. Southampton is proposing that Tuckahoe pay $23,009 in tuition, which is 15 percent below the cap, but is still 8.2 percent more than the current tuition rate of $21,263. The tuition for special education students would be $66,632, 25 percent below the state cap, but 5.3 percent higher than the current year’s $63,298 tuition rate.

If the five-year plan is approved by Tuckahoe taxpayers, in years two through five of the agreement, only the incoming freshman rate would be readjusted, based on the new caps on non-resident tuition rates, as set by the state each year. Sophomore, junior and senior rates would be increased based on the annual budget-to-budget percent hike in spending in the Southampton School District.

Currently, Tuckahoe sends 109 students, plus 11 special education students, to Southampton for high school; another 22 students, plus two special education students, attend Westhampton Beach High School. Tuckahoe is projecting that next year’s freshman class will contain 27 students, plus 11 special education students.

At a Tuckahoe School Board meeting on Monday night, board members did not have answers for residents who had questions about the proposed deal, saying that even though Southampton had released the numbers to the public, they had only received the figures on Friday afternoon and had not had an opportunity to meet to discuss the proposal.

According to Mr. Dyer, the district has received proposed tuition rates from other districts, but none for multi-year contracts. He declined to say which districts approached Tuckahoe, or how much they proposed to charge for tuition.

The lack of information seemed to frustrate some of the approximately 20 people in attendance at the meeting on Monday.

“How can we even consider a deal like this when we could not afford their prices with exclusivity in the past, and now they are surpassing that?” she said. “It does not sound like we can afford that now, especially over a five-year term, when we are having trouble affording a one-year term.”

School Board member Harald Steudte said he understood Ms. Rissone’s concerns, and that the district is working as hard as it can to explore all options, a complicated process with the students’ best interests in mind.

“At some point, when do you stop dealing with them just for exclusivity?” Mr. Steudte asked. “I would like to see it opened up to Hampton Bays and Westhampton [Beach]. If there are people who want to go to Westhampton and feel it is a better school, then power to them, and it should be opened up. If it costs a bit more then so be it.

“Southampton is only looking at us as a cash cow,” he continued. “They are beating us up and beating us up, and then being nice—but in the end, all they want is our money.”

In order for the agreement to go into place, the Tuckahoe School Board would have to vote to approve the year one projection and move to schedule a public referendum covering years two through five. Southampton voters would not vote on the proposal.

If Tuckahoe does not approve the exclusivity agreement, Southampton would charge the full state-recommended non-resident tuition rates for all students moving forward.

The Tuckahoe School Board met in executive session on Monday to discuss the five-year proposal, although Mr. Dyer declined to comment on the discussion. The board, he said, would like to schedule a meeting with the seven-member Southampton School Board to discuss the numbers.

A community forum is scheduled for January 21 at 7 p.m. in the Tuckahoe School library on Magee Street. If more space is needed, the meeting will be moved to the upstairs cafeteria.

“This board is striving to find a sustainable relationship with a good, quality high school, while putting the children first,” Tuckahoe School Board member Dr. Daniel Crough said Monday. “It is really that simple. But it is not an easy goal to achieve. It is not a time to poison a relationship because you are frustrated and exhausted.”

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Southampton voters don't have a chance to vote on this but Tucakahoe does?! Who is paying so that Tuckahoe taxpayers can enjoy a discount? Southampton BOE members are you paying the difference? Oh that's right the Southampton taxpayers will be paying, er subsidizing their tuition. Somehow the Southampton BOE thinks that Southampton voters will embrace this, this will be a total of 7 years of discounts on the backs of the Southampton taxpayer. Way to look out for Tuckahoe once again Southampton ...more
By April1 (156), Southampton on Jan 12, 15 1:04 PM
3 members liked this comment
Two words: "incremental revenue"
By GlassHouses (64), anywhere on Jan 12, 15 2:49 PM
That's pretty funny April! You taxes will go up more without the Tuckahoe students than with them.
In the long run though, you and I totally agree on this one. NO LONG TERM DEAL. Send all the Tuckahoe kids elsewhere, enough strong arming by the Southampton School District, OR at a minimum, give the Tuckahoe students back the options they used to enjoy before being held hostage by these one sided deals.
By lamm (304), Southampton on Jan 12, 15 7:09 PM
1 member liked this comment
It would be nice if Southampton put out some hard numbers for once on what the district would look like without Tuckahoe. I would think the best interest of the Tuckahoe students would be to give those students a choice as they have had for decades until the last two years.
By April1 (156), Southampton on Jan 12, 15 9:19 PM
I challenge you to find a single instance where anyone on this planet asked you what would be in the best interest of the Tuckahoe students. Until then, yours is unsolicited advice provided by a never satisfied member of the SH school district with an agenda.
By Holly 65 (4), Southampton on Jan 13, 15 6:59 AM
1 member liked this comment
Really???????
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on Jan 12, 15 1:25 PM
April, you know there has to be a financial incentive for Southampton to want the Tuckahoe kids, or they wouldn't insist on these exclusive deals. My guess is they really felt the loss when more Tuckahoe parents started sending kids to Westhampton. You have to remember that the board is made up of non professional educators working as volunteers and hypothetical numbers aren't easy.
By lamm (304), Southampton on Jan 12, 15 11:07 PM
I think Southampton wants to know if you are in or are you out. Tuckahoe spends an awful lot of time wiggling & whining (not to mention finger pointing), and precious little on constructive action to solve their problems. If you are not "in" Southampton needs to know & plan accordingly. Budgetary contraction to a sustainable level is certainly not the end of the world. Regardless of what a bunch of 16 yo's have to say about the matter.
By East End 2 (150), Southampton on Jan 13, 15 12:07 PM
2 members liked this comment
I don't understand why they are insisting on a long term deal in order to give us a more affordable tuition. That is really the issue right now. The board cannot legally sign a 5 year deal, it must go to a vote first. If they needed to know immediately they would offer us the discount year to year.
By lamm (304), Southampton on Jan 13, 15 9:57 PM
Yes, non professional educators working as volunteers BUT accountable to their constituents, which are the Southampton taxpayers.
Where us the accountability?
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on Jan 13, 15 12:58 AM
Nothing like a mother/daughter tag team with your coffee. If you run a business and your biggest client has options, you make them an offer like this. How is securing 5 years of consistent income not looking out for your constituents? How does one jump to the conclusion that Southampton taxpayers will be picking up the slack for the ''discount''? That is not a logical thought process. Why don't you or your daughter run for school board and then you can put together all the numbers you want? ...more
By Holly 65 (4), Southampton on Jan 13, 15 6:55 AM
1 member liked this comment
It seems to me, if the SH school district, is proposing a 5 year tuition deal, to the Tuckahoe school district, it is doing so for reasons of fiscal management, and supporting the levels of services, staff, and courses that it currently offers the students in the SH High School. Without this "discounted" deal, a negative impact could be felt in both districts.
There is such a thing as the economy of scales. For example, it may cost less to have full classes of students, than to have smaller ...more
By QuietLife (61), Southampton on Jan 13, 15 10:08 AM
1 member liked this comment
Spin, Spin, Spin, it is enough to make us dizzy. Neither School can sustain the staff, salaries and benefits in the long term without breaking the back of taxpayers. Merging successful administrations and raising standards will save these schools not "begging for bucks". People may support success rather than extend a non-sustainable system. If the students come first would not choice be the American way.
By peconicpoolguy (1), Southampton on Jan 13, 15 10:12 AM
Selfish, Selfish, Selfish. If you want your child to go to school in a different school district, you should move to that school district. It's not righteous to claim moral authority when you possess a stated and clearly defined agenda. Choice is not normally the American way when it comes to public school educations. That's why people examine the school district before they move into one.
By Holly 65 (4), Southampton on Jan 14, 15 6:29 AM
1 member liked this comment
Can anyone explain how a five year contract would benefit either school if tuckahoe will have no money in TWO years? Or is that the plan? Wait two years, tuckahoe goes insolvent and put the merger vote up again? So then Southampton will vote yes so they don't lose tuckahoe to Hampton Bays? Problem is if the merger fails for third time, Tuckahoe is left high and dry. No money and no merger. Tuckhoe said before the merger that there was a plan B. what they failed to mention was their plan B was ...more
By rl (11), southampton on Jan 13, 15 8:11 PM
3 members liked this comment
Is that how you normally go about gathering information? You put your questions anonymously in the comment section of the local newspaper and hope that someone with credibility answers it? What is wrong with people in this village. If you run for school board and win, you can come up with the ideas. That's the whole thing about BOEs. There is a name for a person who feels the need to micro-manage the school, come up with the solutions, read specific reports - it's called a Board Member.
Jan 14, 15 7:31 AM appended by Holly 65
Not to mention Laura, that the school's demise is a lot like global warming...we should have been done and gone a long time ago if all the predictions were authentic.
By Holly 65 (4), Southampton on Jan 14, 15 7:31 AM
Clearly rl's questions where rhetorical. Some people, like the poster you're questioning, appear at board meetings and ask questions. Just because you "come up with the ideas" doesn't mean they're good ones. I am a huge defender of school boards, and sometimes feel that it's a thankless job. But Tuckahoe's is very split right now with only one who is willing to have an open mind and not blindly follow what the Southampton board tells us we must do. My rhetorical question is this...if we are ...more
By lamm (304), Southampton on Jan 14, 15 10:16 PM
Lol. That was a rhetorical question. When school board members seem to be driving a school into insolvency then of course their actions should be challenged. Just because they sit on the board it doesn't mean they are going to make the right decisions. You can sit back with blinders on if you choose, doesn't mean everyone has to. You know....America, free speech, democracy etc. If you don't want to hear BOE members criticized, don't read the posts.
By rl (11), southampton on Jan 14, 15 11:41 AM
1 member liked this comment
Please, Tuckahoe Board, say NO to the 8.2% increase in tuition to Southampton. I guarantee they will sharpen their pencil....and why is the tuition rate being offered by WHB not being made public to the Taxpayers of tuckahoe???
By lauraj80ft (3), southampton on Jan 14, 15 1:18 PM
What happen Lamm you said it was important that Tuckahoe students go to Southampton , because we need to keep a sense of community. Now the merger failed, and your taxes didn't drop 60%, and suddenly it's not so important to go to Southampton. I thought it was for the kids?
Your a fraud, and phony!
By the way Tuckahoe doesn't like the 8% raise in tuition by Southampton, but the 30% raise to the Tuckahoe superintendent Dr Dyer is ok? You wonder why Tuckahoe is in such trouble.
By chief1 (2783), southampton on Jan 15, 15 7:53 AM
1 member liked this comment
Chief, the ONLY way a merger will happen is for Tuckahoe to pull away. You don't compare 30% of one persons salary to 8% of millions of dollars in tuition. The 5 year deal includes yearly increases that Tuckahoe has absolutely no control of. Your tuition rate is already unsustainable.
By lamm (304), Southampton on Jan 15, 15 11:59 PM
Southampton is unsustainable? They are charging Tuckahoe around 23k a student basically the same as WHB. Tuckahoe's tuition is way over 30k a student in their own school. What are you talking about? It's a shame you talk about doing better things for kids when in reality it's more money for faculty, and staff. I never hear what will be better for the advancement of students just your tax bill.
By chief1 (2783), southampton on Jan 16, 15 10:18 AM
Let's all stop the drama. Southampton has always welcomed Tuckahoe children. The school board needs to know how to project it's budget. Yes or no just answer the question. There is no need to hold Southampton hostage each year.
By Rumrunner21 (2), Southampton on Jan 15, 15 5:20 PM
What on earth are you even talking about? Tuckahoe gave Southampton an exclusive then tried to implement a merger which was voted down twice. You act as though Tuckahoe is playing coy with Southampton - they have been all in since the get-go with no plan B.

No matter how you look at it, the school district with no high school is not holding the district with the high school ''hostage''. The irony of your statement beginning with ''Let's stop all the drama'', which you follow up with ...more
By Bob Molly (10), southampton on Jan 17, 15 9:44 AM
1 member liked this comment
Rumrunner, a 5 year contract needs to go to a vote by law. The question can't be answered right now.
By lamm (304), Southampton on Jan 15, 15 11:44 PM
If Tuckahoe's board actually agrees to put this up for referendum, something is going on here on both sides. Tuckahoe claims to have no money in 2 years. So why does Southampton ( and Tuckahoe) want to sign a FIVE year deal? Southampton isn't guaranteed 5 years of an increased tuition rate if we will have no money in TWO years. This just doesn't add up. Is the plan to try and merge again at that point, right as tuckahoe is going under? If it fails at that point Tuckahoe has no options left. It ...more
By rl (11), southampton on Jan 17, 15 6:53 AM
Translation: "Southampton voters were too stupid to realize that our school could not survive without Tuckahoe District Tuition fees so we had to act without them. Furthermore, because the Tuckahoe school board has demonstrated that they are more than happy to subjugate themselves to any and all of our demands, we have agreed to further subjugate their taxpayers for another five years to our under-performing district while providing almost no tax relief to their district's taxpayers."
By witch hazel (224), tatooine on Jan 17, 15 11:14 AM
Chief, we can't afford to pay tuition to any school on a long term basis. You always hear what you want and ignore all else.
By lamm (304), Southampton on Jan 17, 15 7:00 PM
is there a difference between So and Tuck? All Tuck residents get their mail thru southampton mail service, all the kids know each other since they all live in the same small town. Why not merge the distrits, keep the high school students in their hometown, turn Tuckahoe into a pre K and K program, utilize the building, and keep Southampton WHOLE again for the kids. These same kids grow up streets away from their friends yet go to different shools. What is wrong with this picture?? Southampton ...more
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Jan 17, 15 8:01 PM
1 member liked this comment
" Do it for the kids" love that phrase. Students from Tuckahoe go to Southampton at 23k a year when each student averages Southampton taxpayers a cost of 34k.
Tuckahoe wants their taxes dropped by 60%, and Southampton to put 10 million into the short fall that would be created by the merger. NOT FAIR.
Please tell how this helps education. How does it advance the education . Using kids as pawns so teachers keep their jobs is in bad taste.
By chief1 (2783), southampton on Jan 20, 15 8:23 AM
As if you care about education. You care about your tax bill, nothing else. Each student will average way more if Tuckahoe is forced to send high school kids elsewhere in order to save their pre-k to 8th grade.
By lamm (304), Southampton on Jan 20, 15 10:25 PM
Chief, you are so cute when you're lying
By witch hazel (224), tatooine on Jan 20, 15 7:09 PM
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