Merger Study Team Hosting Community Forums To Discuss Combining Districts This Week

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The Southampton and Tuckahoe school districts will host two community forums this week to discuss a possible merger that is likely to come up for a vote later this year.

On Wednesday night, representatives from the SES Study Team will hold the first forum, dedicated to presenting study findings and addressing community questions, in the Southampton High School auditorium at 7 p.m. The same study findings will presented on Thursday night, also at 7 p.m., at the Tuckahoe School.

The possibility of the merger has long been discussed by the two districts, but the study was not started until last October, when both school boards voted to move forward. The results of the study were approved without comment by New York State Education Commissioner John B. King in August, giving the study the final okay to go to a public referendum.

The merger study was approved by both boards due to the dire state of the Tuckahoe school finances. Tuckahoe School District Superintendent Chris Dyer said in a recent interview that because of the state mandated 2-percent tax levy cap, the district will have exhausted all of its reserve funds by the 2015-16 school year.

The first hurdle for the merger to pass will be separate school board votes. Each district will have to approve a proposal for a public vote. Tuckahoe plans to vote on the merger at its board meeting on September 23, while the Southampton School Board intends to vote on October 1, according to both superintendents. On October 29, residents in both communities would have their first chance to veto or pass the merger. If either community fails to approve the measure, the proposed merger will die immediately. If it passes, it will move to a final vote, scheduled for December 5, that will decide the fate of the districts.

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