22 Aug 2014
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Southampton Superintendent: For School District To Merge, State Needs To Help

Southampton School Board will focus on whether Tuckahoe will send students to Southampton High School in coming year.

Southampton Superintendent: For School District To Merge, State Needs To Help
Southampton residents may have voted down the Southampton-Tuckahoe school merger on Tuesday night, but the discussion is far from over.

"Our plan is to work with Tuckahoe to see what the future sending-receiving relationship is going to be," Scott Farina, the Southampton School District superintendent, said Wednesday. "That's the first thing we need to do."

The merger proposal was defeated by Southampton voters 1,075-to-693, while Tuckahoe voters overwhelmingly supported the plan in a 535-to-35 vote.
Southampton would have suffered the bigger brunt, as an 8 percent tax increase was projected, while Tuckahoe's taxes would have decreased. The vote Tuesday was meant as an advisory vote that had both districts approved would have gone to a referendum in December.

While the merger is off the table for the 2014-15 year, another merger vote is possible in the future.

However, Farina said the districts will require help from state legislators. There is a need for new legislation that would help alleviate the burden on the receiving district in the annexation process, he said.

"I think that if the state wants small districts to merge and consolidate we're going to need legislation. If not, the chances of merger votes being put down strictly on the tax impact are great," he said.

On Tuesday evening, Robert E. Grisnik, the chairman of the Tuckahoe School Board said he has met with Sen. Ken LaValle, R-Port Jefferson, and Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., I-Sag Harbor, and they told him they are committed to seeing the merger take place. He said he would look to them for help in the coming months.

Farina said the district saw an above average turnout, like Tuckahoe did, for the advisory vote. Over 1,600 people cast ballots in Southampton. Last year's budget vote saw 600 voters, a smaller than usual turnout, which averages about 1,000, he said. There are 7,000 registered voters in the district.

"I really didn't have any expectation one way or the other," Farina said when asked if the outcome surprised him.

The Tuckahoe School Board meets Monday, and the Southampton School Board meets Tuesday.

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