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Long IslandTowns

Southampton and Tuckahoe school districts to again put a merger to the voters

Residents who want Southampton and Tuckahoe schools to

Residents who want Southampton and Tuckahoe schools to merge made emotional appeals for the districts to unite during a meeting of about 75 residents. Pictured is the exterior of Tuckahoe Common School on Magee Street in Southampton on Sept. 19, 2013. Credit: Randee Daddona

The Southampton and Tuckahoe school boards have agreed to move forward for the second time in about a year with public votes on merging their districts.

The Southampton school board voted 6-0 last Tuesday to schedule a "straw vote" -- the first step in a two-step voting process -- on Nov. 18 on the question of whether the district should annex neighboring Tuckahoe, which has only a K-8 school.

The Tuckahoe school board voted 3-0 Monday to hold a straw vote the same day as Southampton.

If the votes pass in both districts, a second round of referendums will be held, most likely in January. A "no" vote in either district would halt the process.

Southampton comprises an elementary, intermediate and high school, and already absorbs Tuckahoe's students after eighth grade.

In October 2013, Southampton residents voted against the annexation, while Tuckahoe residents supported it. Because Tuckahoe's tax rate is much higher than Southampton's, a merger would cause Tuckahoe's rate to drop and Southampton's to rise -- a key issue among voters last year.

The districts decided to try again, in part because a state budget amendment now allows the tax-rate equalization to occur gradually, over 10 years, and because Southampton produced a new, more detailed budget analysis showing the merger would save the district $4 million.

At a Sept. 11 community forum, proponents of the annexation said it would unify the community and help bolster and preserve programs.

Voting will take place on Nov. 18 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Tuckahoe School on Magee Street and the Southampton Intermediate School on Leland Lane.

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