The Tuckahoe School District has renewed a one-year exclusivity agreement to send all its freshman high school students to the Southampton School District next year, while discussions about a proposed merger continue.
At a board of education meeting on Monday evening, Tuckahoe board members approved the contract, which will maintain the current tuition rates paid to the Southampton district. According to President Bob Grisnik, Tuckahoe will pay $21,263 for general education students and $63,298 for special education students for the 2014-15 school year.
Mr. Grisnik also announced that students who are currently enrolled in the Westhampton Beach School District will be allowed to remain there next year.
“We have been having talks with Southampton ourselves, and what we are going to do next year,” Mr. Grisnik said. “I wanted to let the public know that we, as a Tuckahoe Common School District, will be in business as usual next year. Our students will be going to Southampton as they did this year, exclusively. It is business as usual.”
Mr. Grisnik and board member Daniel Crough voted in favor of the contract. Board member Harald G. Steudte was absent from the meeting. The Southampton Board of Education was expected to vote on the same contract at its Tuesday night meeting, but it was canceled due to snow. The meeting will take place instead next Tuesday, December 17, at 7:30 p.m. in the intermediate school music room.
The new agreement comes weeks after a proposed merger between the two districts failed to pass muster with Southampton voters, leaving many Tuckahoe parents wondering where their children would attend high school come September, and whether the smaller district would be able to remain open.
Under the agreement, Tuckahoe has agreed to pay the same tuition rates for the 2014-15 school year as it pays now, $21,263 for general education students and $63,298 for special education students. Currently, Tuckahoe has budgeted for 13 special education students and 116 regular education students next year, according to Tuckahoe business official Keri Loughlin, a total of $3,289,382 to be paid to the Southampton district.
According to Ms. Loughlin, the district anticipates sending three special education students and 23 regular education students to the Westhampton Beach district, although those tuition rates have not yet been finalized.
This week, Southampton Superintendent Dr. Scott Farina said the district is pleased with the deal, noting that it is still very early in the budget process.
“We are happy that Tuckahoe approved the agreement at this early stage,” he said. “We will be bringing the agreement in front of our board at our next meeting.”
With the tuition agreement in place, both districts can now move forward with creating budget proposals for next year. The process is still in the early stages, and taxpayers will vote on a final budget in the spring. This week, Mr. Grisnik said that Tuckahoe is looking at any ways possible to save money, and that, based on strict budgeting this year, it should be able to stay under the New York State tax levy cap without significant cuts. However, he said, it is still early.
“We are leaving no stones unturned,” he said.