Southampton voters defeat proposed Tuckahoe schools merger

An exterior of Tuckahoe Common School on Magee

An exterior of Tuckahoe Common School on Magee Street in Southampton. (Sept. 19, 2013) (Credit: Randee Daddona)

Southampton voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to merge with the Tuckahoe school district Tuesday, defeating a plan that would have raised taxes in that district but saved millions for the combined school systems in the first year.

Tuckahoe residents passed the proposed merger 565 to 35. But Southampton voters rejected it 1,075 to 693, according to school district officials.

Both districts would have had to approve the merger. If it passed, it would have gone to a final referendum in December.


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Residents of Southampton had expressed dismay at the proposed increase in their school property taxes, which would have gone up 8.67 percent in the first year, according to a study commissioned by the districts. Tuckahoe's taxes would have fallen by about 65 percent.

Tuckahoe's school tax rate is currently three times higher than the wealthier Southampton district, which includes many oceanfront vacation homes. The study said the merger would result in an $8 million savings for the two districts.

Southampton Superintendent Scott Farina said Tuesday night that he was disappointed.

Tuckahoe pays $3 million a year to send its high school students to Southampton.

Farina wouldn't rule out bringing back the vote in the future.

"We need to work with state legislators to see if we somehow can lessen the tax burden that is put on the Southampton taxpayers by merging the two districts," he said.

The Tuckahoe school board, in a statement Tuesday night, said it will deliberate about next year's school budget in the months ahead. "We have time to plan our children's future well," the statement said.

Tuckahoe Common School District has 354 kindergartners through eighth-graders and 154 high school students. Southampton has 1,500 students.

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